Lecturer Steve Blank has helped change how the U.S. government commercializes science, and was recognized for his efforts earlier this month with a coveted national leadership award.
Blank received the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance Innovation Corps Outstanding Leadership Award on April 11 at a National Innovation Network meeting.
As co-founder of the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps), Blank has helped shape the first major changes to commercializing government-funded research in 50 years.
Last year the Haas School's Lester Center for Entrepreneurship was named the coordinator of the Bay Area I-Corps Node, headed by Haas Dean Rich Lyons and Blank. Lester Center Executive Director André Marquis serves the role of Node manager.
All of NSF’s I-Corps nodes teach the Lean LaunchPad framework, a training program developed by Blank that focuses entrepreneurs on developing business models, rather than business plans, and on iterating their models quickly and frequently based on customer feedback. The framework grew out of an earlier customer development course Blank taught at Berkeley-Haas after observing that few business plans ever survived first contact with customers.
As part of I-Corps, Lean LaunchPad teaches hand-picked teams of the nation's top scientists and engineers how to take their ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace. ARPA-E also uses the program, and later this year the National Institutes of Health with adopt it, too.
A serial entrepreneur, Blank is the author of The Four Steps to the Epiphany; The Startup Owner's Manual; and “Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything,” a Harvard Business Review cover story that defined the Lean Startup movement.
In further recognition of his influence, Blank also was invited to give the commencement speech at the ESADE Business School in Barcelona last month. The focus of Blank’s talk was how innovation will shape the business world of the next 50 years—and what it means to business school graduates.
“The convergence of digital trends along with the rise of China and globalization has upended the rules for almost every business in every corner of the globe,” Blank said. “It’s worth noting that everything from the Internet, to electric cars, genomic sequencing, mobile apps, and social media were pioneered by startups, not existing companies.”
“Perhaps that’s because where established companies might see risks or threats, startups see opportunity,” Blank continued. “A pessimist sees danger in every opportunity but an optimist sees opportunity in every danger. Be an optimist. … Embrace change and lead the way.”
Read an article about Blank’s Lean LaunchPad class in BerkeleyHaas magazine.