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Nathaniel Hafer, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Program in Molecular Medicine at UMass Chan. He is the Director of Operations for the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UMCCTS).  Dr. Hafer leads the I-Corps program at UMass Chan and serves as the UMass Site PI for a 22-site project, funded by NIH/NCATS and led by the University of Alabama-Birmingham, to adapt, test, and disseminate a novel version of I-Corps for biomedical researchers.

The I-Corps Program at the UMCCTS, a UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UMCCTS) initiative, is designed to support the translation of biomedical research by providing early-stage education and strategic guidance to faculty, staff and students during the ideation phase of technology development.

Designed specifically for the biomedical researcher at UMass, it guides interdisciplinary teams through a hands-on process of understanding the market for their technology utilizing a proven customer discovery methodology.

This short course is a pre-cursor to a selective and intense set of courses run by the NIH and NSF and known as I-Corps. The I-Corps Program at the UMCCTS is designed to give teams a feeling if they and their opportunity are ready to apply for the national classes held by NIH and NSF. This short course maintains the intensity of the full I-Corps program but limits the time commitment.

CAPCaT taught an I-Corps short course to 6 pilot awardees over the past 3 years. All other pilot awardees were granted exemptions from our course since they previously completed an I-Corps course. Course evaluations were uniformly positive, with attendees reporting a 2-point change in pre- and post-course scores for defining potential customers, mapping the product ecosystem for an industry, and determining market size.

Feedback included: “The single most valuable part is, through the customer discovery process, I'm much more confident about who my target customers are and what their pain points. It's good to know I'm developing technology that will be useful” and “we have discovered potential market for our product in the US. Before this we have been focusing on markets in low resource settings such as in Africa and Asia.”

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