The ICAP Introductory Course helps inventors and entrepreneurs take the right first steps in bringing new technologies and innovations to market. ICAP is an official NSF I-Corps regional short course program run in partnership between George Mason University and George Washington University. 

ICAP includes FREE training programs and counseling services offered through ICAP instructors and mentors to startups across the Commonwealth. The ICAP Introductory Course helps startups identify potential customers and develop successful business models. It is an ideal program for early-stage companies trying to prepare for eventual venture investment.

Through our partnership with the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, special emphasis will be given to cyber and cybersecurity-focused ventures. For more information about CCI, please visit their website

What to Expect:

The ICAP Introductory course is a 2.5-week intensive startup assistance program targeting early-stage, innovative high-growth potential companies. Using Lean Startup as its principal methodology, entrepreneurs learn how to identify their initial customer segment, validate their ideas, and develop business models that investors would more likely fund. With mentoring and expert guidance, ICAP teams create a roadmap to early success in order to increase their potential to attract investment opportunities for funding and growth. Your ICAP Mentor works with you and your team one-on-one for customized support for the duration of the course and beyond.

This course teaches the key concepts of Customer Discovery during five (3-hour) sessions. In addition to the five sessions, there is extensive work done “outside the building”. Participants should expect to spend another 10 to 15, or more, hours per week conducting customer discovery interviews and on course assignments. Each participating ICAP team is required to complete a minimum of 20 customer discovery interviews over the duration of the introductory course. At the conclusion of the program, the participants l remain connected to their ICAP Mentors for follow-on advising and support.

Important Dates

April 7, 2023 – Applications are due by midnight

May 2, 2023 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm – ICAP Introductory Webinar

May 9, 2023 – Acceptance notifications and communication with next steps (7 days after Intro call)

May 16, 2023 – 9:00am – 12:30pm – Customer Segments and Initial Team Presentations

May 17, 2023 – 1:00pm – 4:30pm – Value Proposition

May 18, 2023 – 9:00am – 12:30pm – Customer Discovery

May 25, 2023 – 9:00am – 12:30pm – Each team reviews their Customer Discovery Progress

June 1, 2023 – 9:00am – 12:30pm – Final Team Presentations

During this introductory program, there is extensive work done outside the virtual classroom. In addition to the virtual class meetings, participants should expect to spend another 10-15 hours per week on customer discovery and course assignments. At the conclusion of the program, you will remain connected with your ICAP adjunct to continue your progress on the Five Steps to Startup Success over the following 6 to 24 months.

The introductory program is designed to generate a maximum impact over a relatively short duration and should be considered a required first step for anyone interested in commercializing a technology or product, whether through a startup or licensing arrangement. Some graduates of this cohort may be eligible to apply to NSF’s Seven-week National I-Corps Program, which includes non-dilutive grants for customer discovery and prototype development. Additionally, this program can help teams develop better submissions for SBIR and CCF grants from Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technologies.

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