The program is held through the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago. It helps to empower UChicago scientists, researchers, students and alumni to test the commercial potential of their research and ideas. Supported with funding from the NSF and run by the Polsky Center, the I-Corps program is specifically designed for participants working on projects related to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Mary and Kathy are both alumni of UChicago.
Mary and Kathy have done a significant amount of research in the area of product development uncertainty and risk. They developed a product development process called Exploratory PD® (ExPD). ExPD is based on trying to reduce the biggest product uncertainties, and the Product Risk Framework® (PRF) application software is designed to identify, evaluate, prioritize, and track the biggest product uncertainties. In a future release, predictive analytics will be incorporated.
Making decisions in the absence of sufficient information is one of the biggest challenges they see in product development.
For example, an organization may have a good understanding of the customer and competition, but relatively little understanding of the technology to use. Alternatively, the organization might see potential use for an existing technology, but not know very much about the market. Whenever there is a lot of uncertainty with a project, there’s the risk of making the wrong decision and costing the company—not just in money or time, but in lost opportunities.
The PRF helps project teams to analyze the constraints and uncertainties associated with new products. Instead of rushing into a product idea because it is a “great idea,” the project team is more likely to succeed if they use the PRF to guide its efforts to identify constraints and uncertainties, including how to address them, and track them through resolution.
Part of this NSF grant, includes the interviewing of Engineering, Research & Development and Product Management personnel on product risk and uncertainty within their organization. An interview is typically 1-hour, and the interviews begin in late December. Please contact Mary Drotar to be part of this important study.