Rise-Up program

Ideation Studio

What is i(X) Studio?

Ideation Studio ( “i(X) Studio”) is a continuous program (Fall & Spring semesters, as well as a Summer session) that sponsors faculty and student teams to explore and embark on the pathways for taking technological innovations to market. i(X) Studio is driven by the belief that everyone can be an entrepreneur and innovator, with the right tools, coaching and a proven repeatable process (Lean Launchpad) that guides the way now and into the future. i(X) Studio programming will be hosted at URI’s Launch Lab, with possible additional i(X) studio spaces resident in individual colleges (College of Engineering @ Fascitelli and Ocean Engineering @ the Narragansett Bay Campus are under discussion as initial pilot i(X) labs). IxStudio is also available asynchronously.

i(X) Studio’s goal is to help URI and RI groups explore and navigate the establishment of company startups after spinning out from the dorm room, garage, classroom, and/or lab. This program will focus on accelerating the growth of start-up companies to get to the next stage(s) of their development. Using Lean Launchpad methodologies, teams will create and iterate a Business Model Canvas (BMC), execute customer discovery, develop and test their Value Proposition, and create Minimally Viable Products (MVPs) to be tested by early adopters. They will learn to “Love the Problem” and “Identify their Customer” before falling in love with the solution. Teams are encouraged to learn the “engineering” of their viable and sustainable Business Model before the creation of their MVPs.

i(X)Studios is supported by collaborations from the URI Research Foundation, RIHub, URI Launch Lab, and MassChallenge, among other RI innovation ecosystem partners, faculty and students as well as URI affiliated community members. Teams will work together to use repeatable “lean” entrepreneurship and innovation processes and tools to advance ideas and IP towards new potentially dual-use products, services, and businesses that provide benefits back to URI, RI, its inventors, industry, and society.

To transform discoveries and ideas into game-changing solutions, venture mentorship will be provided by Ideation Studio partners and the larger RI entrepreneurship ecosystem with the below outcomes

  • Developing a Business Model
  • Raising Capital
  • Collaborative Research Funding
  • Navigating Seed Funding Challenges
  • SBIR/STTR Application Assistance
  • Guidance & Mentorship
  • Tailored Curriculum in Startup Lifecycle
  • Preparing Pitch Decks


Individuals, teams or startups with URI-affiliated, working on STEAM based innovations who want to commercialize and create real-world impact.


1 Semester equivalent of Curriculum based Learning and MVP Development Eligible Projects enter Stage 2 of Development with possible funding


Develop theoretical and applied business acumen and an entrepreneurial mindset through a tailored curriculum. Learn repeatable processes around ideation, customer discovery processes, identifying your market opportunities, and ultimately develop a lean startup business model canvas(es)


Get individualized assistance from a curated group of program coaches, experienced proven industry mentors, and subject matter experts who are dedicated to supporting the development and expansion of your startup.


Access to funding for supplies and the creation of MVPs, customer discovery, early customer acceptance, customer testing, as well as additional funding opportunities through grant-writing education, partner and investor connections.


Broaden your network of tech innovators, entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors – in Rhode Island, the United States and globally – by leveraging a range of events and connections facilitated by our program partners, MassChallenge, RIHub and URI LaunchLabs.

Who Should Apply?

Ideation Studio is designed to support students, entrepreneurs, researchers, educators, business leaders, and startups in fueling the next steps of their growth. You are encouraged to apply if:

  • You wish to learn Lean Startup Methodology via an extensive curriculum
  • You are looking to collaborate, network and potentially create/join teams based on common interest areas for problem solving
  • You are hoping to develop a Business Model and possible Minimal Viable Product during your participation

Startups that offer URI-affiliated, STEAM based innovations may also apply if:

  • At least one member of the company (i.e. founder, executive, technical subject matter expert, researcher) is a URI System faculty, researcher, student, staff and/or alumni. Students and alumni must partner and apply with a current URI faculty and/or staff member; OR
  • The technology must have originated and/or been developed at the University of Rhode Island

Program Leads

Joe Loberti

Independent Business Development Consultant

Joe Loberti is a seasoned professional with over 25 years of experience in Entrepreneurial, High Tech, and Consumer Environments. Joe has a strong track record in business development, particularly in the startup and early-stage venture space.

Joe was a Principal at Navia Business Development, a business development firm that helps foster growth in startups and early stage ventures. In addition to continuing to work in the business development area, he is the co-owner of a number of business ventures, including Revolution Cycle Works, a bicycle component manufacturer. His prior positions include CEO for Alektrona, a smart grid communications company and in-house senior business development roles for Navia clients.

Joe worked for over 17 years at American Power Conversion (APC) and became a Senior Vice President prior to his departure in 2008. He is also involved as an active investor, mentor and advisor to local businesses.

Nishita Roy-Pope

Founder & CEO of Tribe Academy

Nishita is an award-winning leader and founder currently running the RISE-UP program. With over 15 years of experience working in high impact leadership roles in the tech and non-profit sectors, she is leading the charge at URI through curriculum training in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Nishita’s current role as the Founder and CEO of a growing startup venture focused on empowering young people reflects her dedication to fostering early learning skills, communication and collaboration, and developing an appreciation for diversity.

Meet Our Team

Erik Brine

Director of Defense R&D Initiatives & Operations

Peter Rumsey

Program Executive

Ancita Sherel

Program Manager

Joe Loberti


Linda Larsen

Operations Manager

Magali Dieny Eaton

Associate Director (Center ICE)
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Special Thanks

Ideation Studio would not have been possible without the consistent, generous support and guidance of Magali Dieny Eaton, Associate Director (Center ICE) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The URIRF RISE-UP team is extremely grateful for her contributions towards the launch of this program at the University of Rhode Island.

Special thanks to our all our partners and teammates at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Hawai’i who have collaborated with us over months to make this project a success.