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February 14, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Ten-week “Scipreneur Challenge” gets underway this Thursday

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Last Thursday night was characterized as Session 0 for the first-ever statewide “Scipreneur Challenge” hosted by the BioTN Foundation.

For those not familiar with the program, it is focused on university students and postdoctoral fellows, providing them with a hands-on experience in commercialization of research and entrepreneurship. Universities and other research institutions make life science intellectual property (IP) available to teams of students, usually four to six per team. Each group is tasked with designing a commercialization plan for the technology, including a business proforma (executive summary), and a 10- to 15-minute investor pitch.

The “Scipreneur Challenge” is normally offered regionally by the organization’s three Academic Alliance Chapters. For 2022, the decision was made to hold it as a virtual series with instruction and other activities offered to all three groups in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. There is hope that the final pitches, scheduled for April 21, can be offered as in-person event, but that will depend on a variety of factors including COVID-19.

Between now and the pitches, there will be nine weekly sessions, most running from 7 to 8:30 p.m. EST on Thursdays. During Session 0, Bryan Barringer, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Christian Brothers University, outlined the topics for each session.

  • This Thursday (February 17) will be an introduction to the program, a review of available IP, and the formation of teams. To register for this session. click here.
  • February 24 will include the basics of entrepreneurship, an introduction to both design thinking and the idea discovery canvas, and a discussion about market identification and problem framing.
  • March 3 will include further review of problem framing, the all-important customer discovery process, solution framing, and the preparation of a one-minute elevator pitch about the technology.
  • March 10 will feature a guest speaker of federal regulatory issues and discussions about customer and solution value propositions as well as IP protection.
  • March 17 will focus on start-up finance and economics, channel and “go-to-market” strategies, and corporate formation.
  • March 24 will include a discussion about corporate funding and beginning to consider the late April pitch.
  • March 31 and April 7 will be less formal pitch practice sessions.
  • April 14 is described as a pitch practice rehearsal.

For more information, send an email to

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