Students eager to stretch their entrepreneurial wings can receive support from Worcester State’s IDEA Accelerator, a new program taking place this semester.
According to Director of Entrepreneurship Elaine Vescio, “the program is for students from any major who want to validate an idea for a product, service, or social venture. The action-based format gets the idea out of their head, tested, and refined.” The deadline to register for the IDEA Accelerator is Sunday, Feb. 14, with the kickoff meeting on Feb. 16 at 5:30 p.m.
The program incorporates the “agile project methodology” of dividing a larger project into a series of “sprints,” each one contributing to develop the idea into a viable concept. In the first two-week sprint, participants will create a customer value proposition; the second sprint will explore viable business models; and the third sprint will focus on telling the story of the idea.
Throughout each sprint, participants will receive guidance and feedback while creating a specific deliverable. At the conclusion of the second sprint, 10 finalists will be selected to compete in the Robert K. O’Brien Next Big Idea contest, to be held virtually on Friday, April 23. Now in its eight year, the business idea pitch contest—Worcester State’s version of “Shark Tank”—offers cash prizes for winning entries, including a grand prize of $2,500.
To manage the content, tools, and communications for the program, Worcester State will use Startup Wind, a virtual innovation platform for universities, states, and organizations.
“This is a game changer for being able to offer a scalable, and really well-supported accelerator program that is totally virtual,” says Vescio. “Massachusetts Technology Collaborative generously offered for Worcester State to be able to run our accelerator program as a cohort within Mass Tech’s Innovation Network in Startup Wind. This means there is no financial cost to Worcester State to use this powerful application to manage the complexity of a virtual accelerator program, so our resources can be focused on the students.”
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