Brock LINC program to support prototype development for entrepreneurs

Product development can be a challenging part of the entrepreneurship journey. A lot happens between the time ideas are formed and when goods or services enter the marketplace.

Brock LINC’s Navigate program helps participants explore their business ideas while the LINCubator guides early-stage start-ups.

But Brock LINC Executive Director Farzana Crocco and her team noticed what occurs in the middle — creating a product model, testing it, re-designing it, testing it again and again — is a process budding entrepreneurs are going through on their own.

Until now.

Crocco and her team are devising a program that supports participants in the physical development of their minimum viable product (MVP), a version they can introduce into the marketplace or present to potential investors for further funding.

“This prototyping program bridges our current programs to help participants get a better MVP, a path that will help them launch their products more efficiently, effectively and quickly,” she says.

The 12-week program will be divided into three phases common to most product design/development processes: schematics design, development and production. Crocco says these topics work to incorporate key concepts from business strategy into tangible, “real-life” outcomes, through the use of engineering and design principles.

She says professional support will be provided to create and market these prototypes to customers, manufacturers or investors. The team includes graphic, industrial and software designers and photographers, among others.

The program, which is open to all who have successfully completed Navigate, is being designed in partnership with innovation consultant Katherine Porter, a design expert, educator and entrepreneur who has given design workshops at Brock LINC.

“This type of support is rarely offered to early-stage start-ups, due to the co-ordination of expertise it requires,” says Crocco. “It replaces the more common pitch/award model, under which start-ups often deal with uncertainty on how to allocate funds most effectively.

“This model provides participants with hands-on guidance and support to develop a prototype, plus the marketing assets required to communicate their concepts clearly with a target customer or strategic investor,” she says.

The John Dobson Foundation is providing a total of $75,000 spread out over three years to fund the program.

Brock University has allocated $50,000 over three years to support learning materials, instructors, and other aspects of the teaching component.

The yearly program, free to student entrepreneurs, is expected to launch in May with an invitation for applications for those who are currently participating in Brock LINC programs. For more information, contact Cassie Conte at

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