The Simone Center’s Student Incubator initiative is an intensive program designed to assist students with a desire to start a business or commercialize their innovations. This initiative differs from other non-RIT university programs in that it is holistic in nature—the program focuses on both product (technology) and business development.
While the Simone Center provides innovation and business development coaches to most students seeking assistance, the Student Incubator program is more intricate and deliberate. Students accepted into the program get weekly coaching by an experienced coach (typically an entrepreneur or a product developer). Simone Center coaches assist students in all dimensions of advancing their business ideas or innovation projects including:
In conjunction with the Student Incubator Program, students can get access to other RIT resources, such as labs, technical advisors, etc. When sufficiently advanced, students may apply for admission to the RIT Student Incubator in Venture Creations.
The Student Incubator Program is team-oriented. Individual students, typically, do not enter the program. High potential projects require high potential teams and the Simone Center will assist lead innovators and entrepreneurs on how to network to find the right team.
Have you ever wished you could gain course or co-op credit for making your own products? If the answer to this question is “yes”, then RIT has a unique program that I believe will interest many of you.
The Simone Center is offering a new program entitled the Student Incubator Program (Maker/Product Development Track) that allows student teams to gain course credit for making their products. Traditionally, this program has primarily emphasized the realization phase of product development, but it has developed into a new Maker/Product Development track. This new track continues to require user insight, but emphases making instead of commercializing. It is also possible to earn co-op credit for making your products, but this requires an interview with the Simone Center/Construct staff.
Student teams are accepted into the Student Incubator Program in several capacities. They may join the program as a non-credit activity, for course credit, or, with the support and approval of the student’s home academic program, co-op credit.
Most students initially enter the program for course credit. They are granted a course credit through the Saunders College’s Applied Entrepreneurship and Commercialization course. Students many also gain course credit to the Center for Multidisciplinary Student’s I-Lab course or, with the approval of their home academic unit, a discipline specific course. All students must gain approval from the Simone Center for these activities.
Students may also gain coop credit for working in the Student Incubator. Coop credit, however, requires the support and approval of each student’s home academic unit. If approval is provided, the Student Incubator will serve as the coop employer. Students can only gain one course credit for entering the student incubator. After the initially entry, if the student team has made sufficient progress, they may continue with their coach in a non-credit bearing capacity.
The Student Incubator works in partnership with the RIT Venture Creations Incubator (VCI). VCI is a full service technology incubator which provides a range of services to startup companies that have progressed through the proof of concept stage and have met other incubator requirements. VCI charges a nominal fee for these services. The Student Incubator often serves as a feeder into VCI with the most advanced and promising projects considered for admission. Please note, most early stage student projects are too early for VCI. For further information about Venture Creations, visit their website at www.rit.edu/research/vc.
The Student Incubator program seeks to encourage the advancement of student initiatives toward revenue generation. As such, only student projects with an overarching “customer focus” will be considered. At a minimum, student initiatives require the following:
This unique RIT program allows selected students to integrate experiential learning projects into their entrepreneurship and innovation curriculum. These projects could entail advancing a student business or commercial innovation, working with other students on a product development team, or advancing a commercial application of a new technology.
Students who enter the Student Incubator Program are eligible for course or co-op credit. Most students entering the program receive course credit for their efforts. However, with the support and approval of their home academic units, students may also gain co-op credit. After receiving course credit, students with a passion for their projects may continue their association with the student incubator on a non-credit basis.
In addition to existing RIT courses, students gain access to a dedicated coach and many of the resources available through RIT. Whereas RIT typically does not provide startup funds, it does employ experienced professionals who have started and coached many businesses. These individuals prepare and introduce high potential student teams to the angel and professional investors who fund early companies. The student incubator also hosts alumni volunteers to provide insight into critical issues related to incorporation, team building, and partnering agreements.
While each student in the program receives a coach from the Simone Center, oftentimes teams require other forms of expertise—especially technology and design expertise. In these instances the student will need to reach out to technical expert faculty throughout the University. The Simone Center may be able to provide assistance with these efforts.
Not all student business and innovation projects are appropriate for the program. The program is intended to promote the advancement of multi-disciplinary student business projects. Most of the intended projects are innovation-related, scalable, and include technical, creative, and business related skills. Previous projects include websites and portals, software services, software, search engines, computer gaming, etc. Gaining a faculty sponsor is crucial to students entering the program. For more information see the Entry Requirements.
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