Rise-Up program

Pathways to Innovation & Entrepreneurship

What is PIE-D?

PIE-D is a semester-long, credit-bearing, sprint-like class where one iteration of a “lean startup” design process is the major outcome. Participants will iterate based on key entrepreneurial focus areas: translating needs to technical specifications, concept generation and down-selection, specification refinement, functional prototyping, testing, and redesign.

Following the Lean Launchpad methodology taught by faculty to include real-world entrepreneurs, student teams will focus on ideation and iteration, spanning strategic areas to include oceans, defense, and healthcare. URI’s proximity to Naval infrastructure and investments, provides participants, sponsors and mentors an opportunity to apply rapid problem-solving skills that address critical issues identified by the Navy and real-world entities supporting the Navy.

Faculty and mentors will support and motivate students to explore the commercial landscape of their proof-of-concept “learning” minimally viable prototypes (MVPs) and assist them to navigate securing additional funding to support the next step in the innovation lifecycle.

How PIE-D Works

Problem Sourcing

Once a problem is submitted, the sponsor and the RISEUP team will collaborate to create a one-page summary. The summary is created via an efficient template that will both accurately capture the problem, and precisely deliver the issue for a civilian student team to understand.

Down Selection

Once the URI teams have the problem, students form teams and self-select which problem to work on in order to ensure enthusiasm toward solving it.

Beneficiary Discovery

Student teams will conduct approximately 80-100 interviews in a process called “beneficiary discovery”. This will allow the students to learn every aspect of the problem and see every possible solution pathway.


Sponsors will receive a fully explored solution pathway, ensuring they are applicable to the available resources for the appropriate solution. This will be presented by the student team at the end of the semester.

Who Should Apply?

If you are interested in solving real-world critical challenges ranging from national security, natural disasters, energy to environmental issues, Pathways to Innovation & Entrepreneurship is perfect for you!

If you would like to know more about PIE-D being offered this Fall at URI, please contact Pete Rumsey at peter_rumsey@uri.edu or reach out via the contact us form below.

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