Seventeen innovators graduate from first Fermilab Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Practicum

Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer Manager Cherri Schmidt provides insight on the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship at Fermilab. Photo: Reidar Hahn

Recently, 17 Fermilab innovators graduated from the first Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Practicum, sponsored by the Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer. Designed as a lighter version of the DOE’s Energy I-Corps, the practicum ran for six weeks and covered topics such as using the management template called the Business Model Canvas to understand the potential path to commercialization for a new technology.

Although the practicum focused on facilitated discussion, it featured lectures as well. The instructors included Fermilab’s graduates of Energy I-Corps program and representatives of the University of Chicago’s Polksy Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Students in the practicum separated into teams, and each team focused on a single technology to learn the skills it takes bridge the gap between innovation and direct societal impact.

The Community Advisory Board attended the final Lab to Market Strategy presentations by practicum students. Photo: Reidar Hahn

“Scientists are familiar with hypothesis testing and exploring the unknown,” said Brendan Kiburg, Energy I-Corp graduate and practicum lecturer. “The difference here is that as short-course students, they are trying to use their skills to determine what problems really matter to potential customers. They learned some of the most important lessons in this course: Their initial hypotheses are usually wrong, and the best way to learn this is to ask the customers.”

The final module consisted of practical discussions of technology transfer at Fermilab and final presentations to the Fermilab Community Advisory Board, who provide ongoing advice and guidance related to the future of the laboratory.

Jesse Batko and Noah Curfman discuss the value proposition of their technology. Photo: Reidar Hahn

“One of the primary goals of this short course was to help technical professionals at the laboratory learn more about the business of transitioning technology out of the laboratory and into a commercial product or service,” said Cherri Schmidt, Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer manager. “This first cohort exceeded my expectations, each team coming up with a great ‘go to market‘ strategy in a very short period of time. We plan to hold this practicum on an annual basis so that we can continue to advance the entrepreneurial culture at Fermilab.”

Fermilab innovators interested in learning more about DOE’s Energy I-Corps should contact the Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer at Details on Fermilab’s most recent participation in the corps can be found on our recent post about lessons learned at Energy I-Corps.

Laura Rogas is the program administrator for the Fermilab Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer and the Illinois Accelerator Research Center.


The practicum drew participation from all parts of the laboratory, creating champions of innovation across the lab:

Graduates of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Practicum Cohort 1

Accelerator Division:
Kris Anderson
Joseph Angelo
Jesse Batko
Raul Campos
Noah Curfman
Brian Hartsell
Carol Johnstone

Particle Physics Division:
Matteo Cremonesi
Juan Estrada
Arnab Ghosh
Stefan Gruenendahl
Guillermo Fernandez Moroni
Javier Tiffenberg

Mike Geelhoed

Scientific Computing Division:
Marc Paterno

Applied Physics and Superconducting Technology Division:
Derek Plant

Raina Wang

Practicum lecturers:
Daniel Bowring, Fermilab
Charlie Cooper, Fermilab, IARC
Brendan Kiburg, Fermilab, PPD
Steve Lehman, Polsky Center at University of Chicago
Jason Pariso, Polsky Center at University of Chicago
Aaron Sauers, Fermilab, OPTT
Cherri Schmidt, Fermilab, OPTT & IARC
Ray Stochowiak, Founder and CEO, Shared Imaging LLC
Charles Thangaraj, Fermilab, IARC

Graduates are pictured with Fermilab Deputy Director for Administration Tim Meyer and Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer Manager Cherri Schmidt. Graduates not pictured are Kris Anderson, Joseph Angelo, Brian Hartsell, Mike Geelhoed, Marc Paterno and Javier Tiffenberg.