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The E(I) Lab is a six-month experiential program designed to introduce graduate students, professional students and postdocs across UNC to the entire lifecycle of innovating a product with the proper product-market fit.  Members of each cohort participate in a ‘hackathon’ style weekend where they will form small teams of 3-5 members to develop innovative solutions to pre-identified unmet challenges in the healthcare space.

Over the subsequent six months, the team will work together with faculty mentors, business advisors, and guest speakers to build prototypes to their solutions.  By working through I-Corps curriculum, which includes the business model canvas and the customer discovery process of getting out of the building to talk to people, our students are able to identify suitable product-market fits.

From this iterative process of vetting innovative ideas and redesigning and executing on prototypes, the students will gain hands-on experience with developing a viable commercial product as well as the process of learning to hone their entrepreneurial mindset.  At the conclusion of the program, teams will present their progress to a panel of judges. You’re not pitching a product here, but your process.



An overarching goal of the Carolina E(I) Lab is to inspire, cultivate and accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation among graduate students, professional students and postdocs. The program is designed to minimize hurdles that prevent the brightest and most motivated from making a tangible impact on our nation’s healthcare system. To allow the creativity of the participants to take over, we will not focus on any existing technologies stemming from research in faculty labs. Instead, the ideas will be formulated directly by the graduate students, professional students, postdocs and faculty participants as part of the program itself. Through research and execution of innovative solutions, participants will gain firsthand experience in cross-disciplinary teamwork, leadership, versatility, idea evolution, product development and entrepreneurship. The program incorporates many of the leading methodologies proven to be highly successful in spawning innovation and developing promising technologies, from hackathons to Lean LaunchPad methodologies, and creates a streamlined process through which participants will: (1) tackle unmet challenges in healthcare, and (2) gain critical experience in not only formulating bold ideas but actually executing those ideas. For more information, please see the Format and Timeline page.


Through generous support from the Eshelman Institute of Innovation, VentureWell Foundation and the UNC Research Opportunity Initiatives, we will provide the necessary financial resources, access to experts, coaching and mentoring to ensure teams will be in the best position to succeed. Our goal is to reduce the barriers to successful innovation to only the imagination and drive of the program participants. The top teams, in addition to monetary prizes, will also be able to compete for additional funding to further advance the developed technologies.