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SLUStart is a program managed by the Research Innovation Group at Saint Louis University. It is designed to help researchers and innovators extend their focus beyond academia and the laboratory.

This program helps participants ensure that their research and innovations will have greater economic and societal benefit. SLUStart is similar to the NSF-I Corps program and serves as a stepping stone for SLU to become an official NSF I-Corps Site, thus providing the SLU community full access to the NSF I-Corps ecosystem. 

The SLUStart program aims to:

  • Train participants, particularly SLU faculty and students, in the lean startup methodology (i.e., customer development process) popularized by Steve Blank.
  • Increase the quality and impact of research conducted at Saint Louis University.
  • Advance the commercialization of SLU intellectual properties.
  • Increase the participation of underrepresented groups, such as women and African-Americans, in entrepreneurship and the technology industry.

If you have questions about SLUStart, contact Malcolm Townes in the Research Innovation Group at To participate in SLUStart, submit your application.


The following groups are eligible to participate in SLUStart:

  1. Anyone who is pursuing:
    • the commercialization of SLU intellectual property or
    • the advancement and maturation of a particular line of SLU research.
  2. Anyone pursuing their own concepts for innovations or new ventures who are:
    • members of the SLU community (i.e., faculty, staff, post-docs, graduate students, undergraduate students or alumni),
    • partnering with a SLU school, academic unit, center of excellence, or other division to pursue their innovation or new venture, or
    • appropriately affiliated with a SLUStart partner organization.

Submit your SLUStart application


What are the benefits of participating in SLUStart?

There are several benefits to participating in SLUStart.

  • Increase your ability to identify promising lines of research that will fair more competitively with potential funding agencies (for SLU researchers).
  • Qualify to pursue funding grants of up to $50,000 from the NSF I-Corps national program to further the development of your concept (once SLUStart is designated an NSF I-Corps Site).
  • Minimize the probability of failure when commercializing research and launching new business ventures by learning the methodology that most successful entrepreneurs use to start their businesses.
  • Increase the quality and impact of research projects and innovations.
  • Increase your ability to attract funding and outside investors for your research and new business ventures.
  • Increase your ability to successfully compete for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grants.
  • Increase your ability to differentiate yourself with potential employers during your job search (for SLU graduate and undergraduate students).
  • Develop skills that will help advance your career whether you're a university professor or still looking forward to your first post-college job.
How is the program structured?
The standard program is currently structured as seven components covered in two cohort working sessions, with one to two weeks between the working sessions in which participants conduct fieldwork (i.e., customer discovery interviews).  The instructors and mentors are available to provide one-on-one assistance to you on an as needed basis as your schedule allows during the time between cohort sessions and on an on-going basis after the conclusion of the cohort sessions.  Additionally, SLUStart has the flexibility to accommodate  other structures to fit the schedule and availability of participants and partners.
What kind of time commitment is required to participate in SLUStart?

Under the standard program, the the first working session typically lasts four to six hours and the second session lasts takes about six to eight hours.  The meeting days and times for the cohort working sessions are scheduled according the availability of the cohort participants.  Additionally, participants are expected to spend time outside of the working sessions applying what they've learned to their ideas.  However, how much time you spend outside of the working sessions is at your discretion.

Are there any costs associated with participating in SLUStart?
There is no cost to participate in SLUStart.
When are SLUStart cohorts held?
We accept applications to SLUStart continuously.  We form cohorts on a rolling basis whenever we have a minimum number of participants to form a cohort (typically at least three projects).