ZAP! Training Program

Past Tides
December 5, 2016 By Lalisa Stutts

ZAP! Training Program

October 12th and 19th

ZAP! is a training program designed for university researchers interested in translating their research into the marketplace. It is a compressed version of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program. The aims of ZAP! are to broaden the focus of scientists and engineers outside of the laboratory and facilitate the advancement of their research towards commercial products and entrepreneurial pursuits. As lead trainer of the two-day seminar, Farzin Samadani of the Innovation Node at Los Angeles pointed out early on that “we’re not here to pick winners.” Participants were taught the fundamentals of market research, including how to conduct, gather, and analyze industry and customer research to facilitate their technology development process and startup company ventures.


The overarching emphasis of the ZAP! training was to assist the teams in thinking more like savvy entrepreneurs, rather than just bench scientists. A set of questions revisited throughout the series seminars and exercises were: what is the invention, who is it for, and why should we care? Samadani reminded the trainees when assessing the market and communicating with consumers, to not get bogged down in the details of the science of their technology. The importance of market assessment, rather, lay in uncovering the value propositions of their invention: how does the tool or methodology impact the user in terms of money, time, quality of outcome, and even happiness.

I think the ZAP! Program here at the Cove and Applied Innovation helps me think about new ways of forming a company and commercialization. One thing is we never thought about interviewing potential customers. We usually think that science is the most important thing and what we put the most effort toward. We originally thought that once we built this device, everyone would use it, but the reality is that customer input helps me rethink the commercialization process.” 

– Hye-Won Shin of UBREATH

Graduates of the ZAP! Fall 2016 Program

GRAM – Wheelchair rehab device: Yasemin Sarigul-Klijin

WARD – Adapting historical weather data to minimize construction delays: Mohsen, Niknejad, Omid Mazdiyasni, Amir AghaKouchak, Harshad Momtaz

SYNTR – Microfluidic device to dissociate tumor: Ahmed Zobi, David Duarte, Hugo Salas, tissue from solid tumors into single cells Justin Stovner, Derek Banyard

COMPAS – A clinical operations management and patient analytics system: Curtis Hendrick & Michael Glover for healthcare

PUREIST – Continuous, efficient production of medical radioisotopes: Leila Safavi-Tehrani (post doc) & Mikael Nilsson (PI)

UBREATH – A Novel Approach to Asthma Inhaler Compliance Using Breath: Hye-Won Shin

ZAP! Program Contact: 

Doug Crawford

 Senior Licensing Officer


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