Accelerate UConn banner

Accelerate UConn (AU) helps faculty, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and undergraduate students determine the commercial potential for new ideas, technology, and products and develop strategies for bringing their innovations to the marketplace.

Using the I-Corps framework developed and endorsed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Accelerate UConn leverages resources from across the University in order to provide specialized support to UConn entrepreneurs.

Applications for the Accelerate UConn Spring 2020 Cohort are open. Apply today!

Learn more about the Spring 2020 cohort.

Participants will learn how to:

  • develop new ways to communicate the value of your product or technology
  • understand the structure of the market you are entering
  • develop strategies for generating demand for your product or technology
  • identify next steps needed to launch your venture
  • identify customers most likely to bring you rst revenue

Teams will receive: 

  • 7 weeks of training on the Business Model Canvas and Customer Discovery Process
  • coaching from industry experts and access to next step resources
  • up to $3,000 to support customer discovery and development of minimum viable product
  • help to identify team members

Meet the Instructors

Michelle Cote

Michelle Cote
Instructor, CCEI

Alice Nichols

Alice Nichols
Principle, Integrated Strategies International

Scott Kozak

Scott Kozak
CEO, Rho Renewables
CBO, Universal Sequencing Technology

Joseph Lipuma

Joseph Lipuma
Professor, Strategy Innovation, BU

Program Participants

Fall 2019 Cohort

Dr. Georgios Bollas and William Hale (Faculty and Ph.D. Student), School of Engineering – Fault inference in cyber-physical systems

Dr. Wes Hamrick, Dr. Tom Scheinfeldt, and Brooke Foti Gemmell (Faculty, PostDoc, and Staff), School of Fine Arts & Greenhouse Studios – Sourcery

Dr. Baikun Li and Nikhil Gupta (Faculty and Industry Partner), School of Engineering – Determinant Materials

Jason Micalizzi, Brian Gibbs, and Dr. Paul Nahass (Alumni and Faculty), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering – SnakeSkin Basketball

Kishan Patel and Harsh Patel (Undergraduate Student and Graduate Student), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Lund University – Wrap-up

Shaleighne Cantner, Richard Forristall, Joshua Salazar, and Raja Sivaramakrishnan (Alumni and Industry), NEAG School of Education, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Industry Partners – Engagement Solutions

Allyn Sweet, Dylan Nenadal, and Dr. David Noble (Alumni, Undergraduate Student, and Faculty), School of Business – GridLite

Michael Toomey (Graduate Student/Staff) School of Fine Arts – Traveling Interactive Museums

Peter Goggins and Daniel Lesh (Undergraduate Students), College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – Pisces Atlantic

Christopher Papa and Owen Brown (Undergraduate Student and Industry Partner), School of Business and Industry – Chiron Recovery

Spring 2019 Cohort

Dr. Arash Esmaili Zaghi, Alexandra Hain, and Danielle Marzitell (Faculty, Ph.D. Student, Undergraduate Student), School of Engineering, and School of Fine Arts – Arax Engineering: 3D imaging for bridge inspection.

Dr. Mark Brand, Jonathan Mahoney, Dr. Elaine Choung-Hee Lee, Veronica Vallejo, Keiona Khen (Faculty, Ph.D. Student, Industry Partners, Undergraduate Student), College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources- Aroniomics: Aronia for commercial fruit production.

Nikolas Franceschi-Hofmann, Elizabeth Perry, and Dr. Yu Lei (Undergraduate Students and Faculty), School of Engineering and School of Business- Geyser Remediation: Remove PFAs from drinking water.

Joseph Rapisarda and Akash Balaji (Graduate Student, Undergraduate Student), School of Business and School of Engineering- FitTrek: data sharing application

Emily Yale, Anthony Mastrocola, Dr. Mei Wei, and Kevin Waugh (Graduate Student, Undergraduate Student, Faculty, Industry Partner), School of Engineering- Land Maverick: Soil sampling using robotics.

Christian Heiden, Joseph Bonelli, and Mark Meyering (Undergraduate Student, Faculty, Industry Partner), College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources- Levo International: Hydroponic garden installation.

Dr. Lawrence Silbart, Joseph Carbonaro, and Malu Foley (Faculty, Undergraduate Students),College of Agriculture, Health and Natural resources, and School of Business – Therapeutic Bandage Systems: Bandage used to treat infections

Michael DaCosta, Brendan Mabey, Ankit Saini, and Sandeep Saini (Undergraduate Students and Industry Partner), School of Business and School of Engineering- Transit2College: College application support

Dr. Amanda Zaleski, Dr. Beth Taylor, and Dr. Robert Sanchez. (Post Doc, Faculty, Industry Partner) College of Agriculture, Health and Natural resources, SAMS-CI App: Mobile health application for patients and doctors.

Daniel Ruskin and Jonathan Davis (Undergraduate Students), School of Engineering- Secure Election Systems: Secure electronic absentee ballot collection.

Michael Gaulin and Dr. Lei Wang (Undergraduate Student and Faculty), School of Business and School of Engineering- Smart Charging System: Wireless charging station.

Fall 2018 Cohort

Dr. Xiuling Lu, Sterling Glass, Derek Hargrove & Andre Beringhs (Faculty, Ph.D. Students, Graduate Student), School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Science- Doxorubicin Nanoparticles for Leukemic Stem Cell Inhibition

Dr. Dasha Frias Landa, Ardita Hinkle & Dr. Flavio Uribe (PostDoc, Research Assistant, Faculty), UConn Health, Orthodontics- Triangle Retainers: Prevent the relapse of open bite using nonremovable retainer

Dr. Jason Henderson, Matthew Deluca & Rober Narciso (Faculty, Undergraduate Students), College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, Department of Plant Grass Science and Landscape Architecture- Turfgrass Weedbine

Michael Martin, Nick Myers, & Dr. Thomas Villalon (Graduate Student, Industry partners), School of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering Department & Institute of Material Sciences- iFrit: Using waste generated through production to develop a sustainable disposal process

Dr. Linda Pescatello, Yin Wu, Burak Cilhoroz & Robert Maybruch (Faculty, Ph.D. Students, Graduate Student, Industry partner), College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, Department of Kinesiology- Team Optimize: Decision support system for a guided approach to ExRx

Dr. Islam Mosa, Esraa Elsanadidy, & Dr. James Rusling (Post Doc, Graduate Student, Faculty), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Chemistry- BioCap-Harvest: New power course or implantable pacemaker

Dr. Simona Augyte & Daniel Koval (Post Doc, Industry Partner), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department- Kelp Development and processing: Locally and sustainable grown sea vegetables

Dr. Erik Wallace, Faith Sporbert, Thomas Crosby, Augusto Iversen, & John Bochicchio (Faculty, Undergraduate Students), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Mathematics- Mystika: Software designed for improve safety and speed of all secure communications

Dr. Krystyna Gielo-Perczak & Alexandros Mathioudakis (Faculty, Ph.D. Student), School of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering Department- Jointless Lower Extremity Exoskeleton

Peter Goggins & Patrick Hockings (Undergraduate Students), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Environmental Science Department & School of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering Department- Next Generation Multi-Trophic Aquaculture

Spring 2018 Cohort

Dr. Xiuchun Tian & Elizabeth Johnson (Faculty & Graduate Student), College of Agriculture, Heath and Natural Resources, Department of Animal Science- “MycoZap” Plant-derived natural compounds to effectively

Dr. Leslie Shor, Grant Bouchillon, Chris Hawxhurst & Wallis Boyd (Faculty, Graduate Students & Undergraduate Student), School of Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering & Department of Environmental Engineering- Living Fertilizer

Dr. Robert Aseltine, Dr. Riddhi Doshi, Wenjie Wang & Cal Collins (Faculty, PostDoc, Graduate Student & Industry), UConn Health, Division of Behavioral Sciences and Community Health, Center for Public Health and Health Policy- “WellTech” Improving the Collection of Patient Information Using Mobile Health Technologies

Dr. Bradley Wright, Elisabeth McClure, Lindsey Fecko, Samantha Tracey, Kendall Comstock (Faculty & Undergraduate Students), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department Sociology and Department of Communication- “Ackme Research” Testing well-being interventions 

Dr. Arash Esmali Zaghi & Alexandra Hain (Faculty & Graduate Student), School of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering- “Arax Engineering” Hybrid building columns

Ernesto Ortega-Hernandez, Shemona Singh, Nicole Gauer (Undergraduate Students), School of Engineering, Department of Electrical Engineering and Department of Computer Science & School of Business, Finance Department- “Mesa” Bridging the disconnect of social interactions through food sharing

Dr. Ruth Lucas, Patrick Hocking & Amy Robinson (Faculty & Undergraduate Students- UConn), School of Nursing, School of Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering & Department of Electrical Engineering, Dr. Jimi Francis, Sarah Cowan & Shambhavi Adhikari (Faculty & Graduate Students- University of Texas at Tyler), College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Department of Health and Kinesiology- “Dyadic Innovations” Breastfeed diagnostic device

Dr. Amit Savkar, William Moshella & Matthew Dermody (Faculty, Industry & Graduate Students), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Mathematics & School of Business, Masters in Business Administration- “” Predictive analytics platform for student retention in STEM fields

Dr. Mu-Ping Nieh, Armin Tahmasbi Rad & Leila Daneshmandi (Faculty & Graduate Students), School of Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering- “Encapsulate” A tumor-on-a-chip device for individualized treatment

Dr. Christine Finck, Dr. Liisa Kuhn & Todd Jensen (Faculty & Researcher), UConn Health, School of Medicine & School of Dental Medicine, Department of Pediatrics & Department of Reconstructive Sciences- “Esophadex” A new esophageal device to treat esophageal

Team Composition

Entrepreneurial Team

Participation in this program requires the formation of an entrepreneurial team consisting of:

Entrepreneurial Lead (EL): The EL is responsible for driving the process of Customer Discover and Business Model development, and may also recruit additional students to participate in the team.  On faculty-led teams, the EL is typically a postdoctoral researcher, graduate student, or undergraduate student, who possesses the relevant technical knowledge and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation, and is responsible for leading the development of the business model for the product or technology proposed.  On student led teams, the EL is the student who acts as the point person during the length of the program, makes presentations on behalf of the group, and takes responsibility for group performance.

Academic Lead (AL): The AL is a faculty member that has led the development of a new product or technology, or has relevant knowledge about the problem the venture will solve. This person can act as the team’s Chief Technology Officer or advisor, and could also choose to take a more involved role in the development of the business strategy. 

It is not required that student teams have an Academic Lead, but it is strongly advised that they seek one out through this process.

Industry Mentor: An Industry Mentor is typically someone with experience transitioning technology out of academic labs and into the marketplace, or with experience bringing new products to market within the industry that the team is trying to enter. Industry Mentors should live in close proximity to the institution, and have connections throughout the region. The AU team can help facilitate finding an Industry Mentor.

If you have an idea for a new venture, or have developed a new technology that you would like to commercialize, but have not yet formed a team, Accelerate UConn staff may be able to help.  Please contact Jennifer Murphy:  Please provide her with an introduction to the product or technology that you are working on, a description of the existing members of your team, as well as an idea of the type of team member that you are looking for.


Program Timing and Commitment

Time frame: Fall and Spring semesters only


  • Attending and representing their team at all in-person and WebEx meetings during the 7-week program.
  • Lead the team’s customer discovery efforts and weekly 10-minute presentations on the insights and progress made during this process to the rest of the cohort, and program instructors.
  • Spend 10-12 hours per week on developing and refining their team’s business model during this program (During the opening: Thursday all day and Friday half day and closing weeks Friday all day)
  • During the interim weeks, 3 hours will be spent on group WebEX calls, and an additional 5-6 hours should be dedicated to customer discovery and the recording of information gained through interviews.

Academic Component: Student ELs can enroll in a 3-credit field study course (BADM 5320/MGMT 4899), in which they will participate in the requirements listed above.

Join a Startup Team

Become an Entrepreneurial Lead for CCEI!

This opportunity is open to students (undergraduate and graduate) who wish to be paired as the Entrepreneurial Leads (EL) to Accelerate UConn teams. You do not need to have your own idea or team, but rather if there is a need or interest by the teams accepted into our program, we will work to match candidates from this application process with those teams.

This opportunity allows for students to work directly with a real startup, learn about entrepreneurship as well as the approaches to entrepreneurship (Lean Launch methodology and Customer Discovery by startup pioneer Steve Blank). This is a great way for students to build on the experiences they already have while learning entirely new approaches from "hands on" opportunities.

Apply to be an EL