Discovery Launchpad

The Discovery Launchpad is a no-cost, no-equity-required startup incubator and program of formal coaching for University of Minnesota innovators interested in forming a startup company to commercialize new technology or an idea.

The program leverages expert, experienced advisors, and the broad network of resources across the UMN to improve the success of startup companies and the overall return on investment for their research. UMN programs, such as MIN-Corps and MN-REACH, provide early stage support for technology development. The Discovery Launchpad complements these programs by helping researchers apply what they learned and explore the next steps in launching a company.

Customized Coaching & Curriculum

Participation in the Discovery Launchpad is voluntary and can start as soon as the researcher feels ready to explore the possibility of launching a startup. Experienced advisors help innovators move efficiently through the startup process using a three phase approach:

Three phases within a one year maximum participation timeline. Phases are: asses, coach, and post launch support. A formal invitation follows the "asses" phase. "Company launch" follows the "coach" phase.


Meet with Discovery Launchpad advisors to discuss the research, value proposition, team, and plans, review existing pitch materials (if any), and determine priorities.


Complete tasks on the work plan including:

  • Business, marketing, and sales plans
  • Capital formation plan
  • Regulatory plan, if needed
  • Financial management system and processes with an in-house CFO-in-residence
  • Professional business pitch
  • SBIR/STTR funding assistance (delivered by MNSBIR)

Shared office space available at no cost.

Post Launch Support

Consultation with Discovery Launchpad advisors available for up to one year.

Work Plan

Each company receives an individualized work plan based on its needs and priorities, including specific deliverables of varying scope and scale in the following areas.  

Individualized Planning Areas

Area Outcome
Business Model ●   Explore options, test assumptions, and develop a feasible plan for how the business will operate and generate revenue
IT and Operations ●   Understand, plan the design for, and implement IT and operations systems appropriate for the business
Technology Readiness ●   Identify strategy for completing necessary steps to ready technology for commercial use (may be integrated with regulatory plan, depending upon the nature of the business.
Marketing and Sales ●   Develop a marketing and sales plan
●   Develop an initial strategy to translate customer learning into sales execution and revenue
Regulatory ●   Develop a plan for seeking and obtaining appropriate regulatory approvals which may be needed for the business, including (as appropriate) FDA, EPA, USDA, FCC, etc.
Financial ●   Prepare a financial model and cash flow plan for first two years
●   Identify a financial management system and processes
●   Seek federal SBIR/STTR funding to support research and commercialization (delivered by MNSBIR)
Team ●   Define and nurture a healthy business culture
●   Understand the difference between advisory boards, boards of directors, and how to recruit and use both
●   Resource and incentivize the team
●   Define roles and work as a team for maximum results
Value Proposition and VOC ●   Explore and identify strongest value proposition and development path
●   Identify and collect customer insights required
We encourage companies to work with MIN-Corps for this portion of the program and bring the work back to the Discovery Launchpad for integration into the plan. Some will use NSF’s iCorps program.
Legal and Structural Considerations in Company Formation ●   Choose the right legal entity
●   Understand governance and fiduciary responsibility
●   Understand and develop a capitalization table
IP Plan and Preparing to Emerge from the University ●   Understand the risks and responsibilities of running an independent company
●   Understand conflict of interest and use of University facilities
●   Develop plan to preserve IP protection as IP responsibility is  transferred out of the University

Upon completion of the Discovery Launchpad program, startups will develop a complete investor pitch for their business.

Educational & Investor Events

The Venture Center hosts five free educational webinars for UMN innovators and the public every year. We also host the Minnesota Ventures pitch event for startups to pitch to investors and co-host Walleye Tank, Minnesota’s life science pitch competition with Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship twice per year - in the spring and in the winter.

To learn more about Discovery Launchpad and potentially enter the program, or for more information about Minnesota Ventures, email and we will schedule an introductory meeting with you.


Contact to schedule an appointment and learn more.