Are there plans to cancel upcoming Focus Weeks due to COVID-19?

The SGCI is monitoring the effects of COVID-19 within the meeting and event industry and will take direction from global, federal, and local health officials. Unfortunately, this has meant that the June in-person Focus Week has been canceled. In its place, we are offering a virtual mini-course called Jumpstart Your Sustainability Plan, June 16-18, 2020. Learn more and register here!

We are hopeful that we will be able to move forward with the December Focus Week. Since this is a rapidly evolving situation, we'll make adjustments to upcoming dates based on the most current recommendations to ensure the safety and health of our participants. Still, we encourage those interested in participating to apply soon so we're aware of your interest and can hold a space for your team in an upcoming Focus Week. Those interested in attending the November/December session should apply by September 25. We'll contact you that week with updates and to notify you of acceptance status.

How much does it cost to attend Focus Week?
The Focus Week is offered at no cost to selected participants. Breakfast, lunch, and some dinners will be provided. Attendees will need to pay for travel, hotel, and remaining dinners. 

Who should apply?
Teams of project leaders are strongly encouraged to apply. Teams should include both the project "owner" and the tech lead. The person attending as the "owner" may be the project's Principal Investigator, or the business owner or entrepreneurial lead. Having a technical background is not required. If there is a third person you would like to include, please include this in your application. 

Only one application is needed per team. Teams with projects that have already launched and have active users are preferred, but early-stage initiatives will also be considered.

For each session, we will select 6-10 teams to participate, based on their potential to deliver significant value to the community. We can only accept a limited number of teams for each Focus Week, and sessions do fill quickly.

What is the difference between the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) and Focus Week?

NSF's I-Corps™ is an 8-week program offered to research start-ups looking to test out their technologies with market viability. The outcomes of I-Corps Teams projects are threefold: 1) a clear go/no go decision based on an assessment of the viability of the overall business model, 2) substantial first-hand evidence for or against product-market fit, with a pithy definition of the customer segments and corresponding value propositions, and 3) a narrative of a compelling technology demonstration for potential partners. I-Corps provides teams with $50,000 to conduct over 100 face-to-face interviews along with additional training on the customer interview process, market insight, business model canvas, and technology commercial readiness. If your project is interested in becoming a start-up or is a start-up, then I-Corps would be a good fit. 

The SGCI Gateway Focus Week is a 5-day workshop for non-commercial research products. Participation in Focus Week results in the development of short term goals and a pitch deck, opening paths that can move the project towards sustainability. There is no cost to attend Focus Week as the registration is currently subsidized by NSF and most meals provided (teams cover their own travel and a few meals). Participating teams receive training on the following topics during Focus Week: sustainability planning, effective communication, audience assessment, customer identification, user-design/experience, cybersecurity, marketing strategy, sales strategy, budgeting a grant, and funding opportunities. Teams are not expected to leave with a start-up but instead are encouraged to apply introduced sustainability methods to their project through actionable 3-month and 6-month goals that are set at the end of the 5-day workshop.

When and where are Focus Weeks offered?
Focus Weeks are offered twice a year. The first session of 2020 will be offered virtually as a reimagined mini-course called Jumpstart Your Sustainability PlanJune 1-5 at Columbia University in New York, NY. The second session will be Nov. 30-Dec. 4 at the San Diego Supercomputer Center in La Jolla, CA. We encourage you to sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on application dates and future opportunities. 

Who are the Focus Week instructors?
You can meet the Focus Week instructors here.

When will I know if my application has been accepted?
All applicants will be notified of the status of their acceptance within a week of the deadline. Upon admission to the program, participants will receive information regarding travel and hotel options. 

How can I learn more about what the Focus Week experience will be like?
Hear what instructors, as well as past participants, have to say about Focus Week by reading these blog posts: