Concept to Commercialization

Purdue University Northwest’s Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center (PNW/CMEC) initiated the “Concept to Commercialization” (C2C) program to offer startup education and support to entrepreneurs. The Federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) has financially supported PNW’s unique entrepreneurial program in Northwest Indiana (NWI) since October, 2019.

An ultimate goal of C2C is fostering manufacturing related ventures, or consumer products that can be produced in the region. The program seeks to provide participants with lean startup guidance, intellectual property protection, prototype development and related resources.  We offer selected ventures early stage, pre-seed funding for future equity.

While the program is designed as self-driven, PNW/CMEC Staff, Brooke Rogan and Entrepreneur in Residence, Mont Handley, who successfully landed a deal on Shark Tank and built a manufacturing business from his invention, guide participants through the following 6 step program.

  • Concept Viability – In this first step of the program, prospective clients meet with the associate director for a preliminary assessment of the innovation.  This includes presenting a conceptual prototype or drawing that visually conveys the concept.
  • Entrepreneurial Viability – While a promising concept is essential, successful entrepreneurship relies heavily on the soft skills of effective communication.  Learning to deliver a business pitch to investors or a product demonstration to potential customers is vital.  A formal step in determining Entrepreneurial Viability, is for participants to present their concept at 1 Million Cups (1MC) of Northwest Indiana.
  • Intellectual Property Viability – C2C seeks participants with concepts that are either novel or innovative. With the help of our partners at Hartman Global Intellectual Property Law, our program offers each participant an appointment at C2C’s Intellectual Property Legal Aid (IPLA).  Participation in IPLA helps in the process of determining the probability of whether the product is protectable through a U.S. Patent.  Federal funds from the EDA are currently available through September 2021 to assist in filing patent applications.
  • Customer Viability – Determining and connecting with a customer base is a real challenge all start-ups face.  Introduction to Customer Discovery (ICD) provides a structured program to aid entrepreneurs in determining who might buy their product.  Taking place over 5 weeks, ICD helps in determining a product’s marketability by surveying potential customers and requesting their feedback. Clients who have completed ICD report great insight from having participated in this step of the program.
  • Product Viability – Clients who have completed the first 4 steps and prove to be a good match to the C2C program, are given the opportunity to receive aid in the production of a functional prototype.  PNW’s resources and staff allow for the realization of a concept into a tangible model and ultimately aid in the refinement of the design.
  • Commercial Manufacturing Viability – Once a prototype has become a functioning model, manufacturing analysis examines how the concept can be scaled through outsourcing or process design.

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur who might benefit from our program or if you have questions, contact [email protected] for more information.

Mont Handley

Entrepreneur in Residence/Associate Director
Commercialization & Manufacturing Excellence Center

210-989-2318 | [email protected]