From Problem to prototype

Iowa Medical Innovation Group (IMIG) is a two-semester interdisciplinary program that introduces you to all phases of medical device/technology development. Students from the colleges of Business, Engineering, Law, and Medicine collaborate in a real-world environment to identify a medical need, create a solution, and move it through the development and commercialization process.


  • Develop knowledge of the entire medical innovation process
  • Research and develop novel products that could lead to the creation of a new company or a licensing agreement with an existing company
  • Apply human-centered design thinking and other innovation tools to real-world problems
  • Work with on multidisciplinary teams with others who possess diverse knowledge and skillsets


  • Must be a students in either the college of Business, Engineering, Law, or Medicine
  • Attend all scheduled class sessions
  • Work with teammates to complete stepping-stone assignments on the need identification, ideation, and business plan development path
  • Complete the need identification, device design, commercialization and capstone presentations and final deliverables

How it works

Need identification and validation

The spring semester focuses identifying an unmet need in a defined area of strategic focus.  Students are introduced to the Business Model Canvas, design-thinking, customer discovery, value propositions, customer archetyping, FDA regulation of medical devices, privacy concerns in healthcare-related research, the basics of Institutional Review Boards, fundamentals of intellectual property, brainstorming techniques, project management and planning, and interdisciplinary team functionality. Student teams simultaneously identify and research a need, both through traditional research and customer discovery.  After the teams have developed a comprehensive problem statement that articulates the unmet need and its characteristics, they identify a design space and begin brainstorming high-level solution concepts. Students are encouraged to continue to communicate about their ideas over the summer.

Ideation and commercialization

During the following fall semester, IMIG teams refine the design space to produce a product that fulfills the unmet need they identified. Teams must take multiple considerations into account in designing the product, including financial viability, expertise of the user, needs of the customer, and the law. Teams are also expected to test their solution concept and iterate. The deliverable work product for the second semester is the creation of one or more prototypes of a product that addresses the unmet need along with an assessment of how the product addresses the need and why. Students will also be required to develop a business plan that provides a path forward for real-world implementation.

Teams who wish to continue with their product development and implementation after the conclusion of the fall semester are encouraged to do so, although there are no IMIG course-specific components.  Biomedical engineering senior design students will be expected to complete their senior design project tasks. 


Weekly class sessions are held on Wednesday nights from January through May and August through December. IMIG class sessions involve a combination of lectures from experts in different fields, team exercises, team in-class updates, and team project work.  Class sessions are highly interactive and are taught in team-based learning environment.


Iowa JPEC sponsors several elevator pitch and business plan competitions throughout the year. IMIG teams are encouraged to participate in these competitions beginning in the fall, once they have begun prototyping. IMIG teams will have the opportunity to compete and win funding to support their commercialization projects.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of IMIG, students will be able to:

  • Communicate with professionals across multiple disciplines using a shared vocabulary
  • Explain basic concepts from multiple different fields and how they interact with the development of a new medical technology
  • Leverage your own specialized knowledge and skillsets to add value to a multi-discipline team
  • Develop and implement a project plan to accomplish a complex task
  • Describe and use the fundamentals of the design-thinking process and Business Model Canvas
  • Describe and use a variety of other entrepreneurial tools, beginning with customer discovery interviewing, to solve problems in effective and innovative ways

Next Steps

Students interested in participating in IMIG should contact their faculty leads indicated by college below.