Health Sciences Lean Startup

Health Lean Startup logo

The Dobson Centre, in partnership with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, is thrilled to welcome the McGill health sciences community to our startup ecosystem, and to support and accelerate health related innovation through the development of entrepreneurship.

The Health Sciences Lean Startup Program is a tailored learning approach intended specifically for entrepreneurs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, medicine and dentistry as well as a variety of multidisciplinary fields that are working to improve health, quality of life, patient centered healthcare, prevent and cure diseases, and understand how humans and animals function.

The program is designed to help take aspiring entrepreneurs and early stage startups from the idea stage to developing and launching a viable business, while immersing them into the world of entrepreneurship.

Throughout the 8-week program, startups participate in weekly workshops with industry and subject matter experts, and conduct self-directed work on their business strategy. They gain exposure to business frameworks and tools to evaluate their idea and generate challenging, yet feasible goals for their startup.

By the end of the program, participants will have the confidence and the clarity to present their idea to various stakeholders and to take their vision to the next stage.

View the program brochure


Program Overview

Target Dates: October 19 - December 7, 2021

Duration: Tuesdays from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. for 8 weeks

Key Learning Themes

Lean Startup Turning An Idea Into A Business

  • Why some startups fail and others succeed: stages, pitfalls and best-practices • Validating your proof of concept
  • The framework to creating a viable product
  • Understanding your market
  • Protecting your IP & Legal Issues
  • Financial Projections & KPIs
  • Generating a business model to move from idea to startup
  • Crafting and articulating your vision to stakeholders


ACTION LEARNING: Throughout the program, participants work with their teams on achieving milestones related to their startup idea. This process is a crucial component of the program and will ultimately lead to the development of a viable startup concept.

WEEKLY WORKSHOPS: The central platform for introducing strategic frameworks and business concepts that guide the process of turning a scientific idea into a business. Workshops also provide the opportunity to bridge theory with real-world application through stories, examples and insights from guest speakers. Workshops will generally last 2 hours but we reserve an extra hour for guest speakers and mentors.

Following completion of the Health Sciences Lean Startup Program, Teams are encouraged to enter in the 2022 McGill Dobson Cup competition.

Course Plan

Week Workshop Themes            Action-learning project

Why Some Startups Fail And Others Succeed

  • Program introduction and overview
  • Understanding the cycles and stages of a startup
  • Overcoming prevailing challenges and avoiding common pitfalls
  • Best-practices - drawing from lean methodology to improve the odds

Market Outreach

  • Talking to your target market or potential partners to learn what the really want

Validating a Proof of Concept

  • What is a proof of concept and why you need it?
  • Using value proposition design to:
    • Validate the need
    • Address customer pain points
    • Conceptualize a solution/prototype
    • Seek feedback and testing


Value Proposition Design:

  • Defining what problems you will solve and how you will do it

The Framework to Creating a Viable Product

  • The purpose of a minimum viable product
  • Criteria for building and testing your MVP

Minimum Viable Product:

Developing/defining the features of your MVP and roadmap for early-stage testing and feedback



Understanding Your Market

  • Tools for competitive analysis
  • Researching your market and determining its size
  • Identifying your beachhead market

Market Research:

  • Researching your market to determine where you fit

Protecting Your IP & Other Legal Issues

  • What does it mean to be "venture ready" from a legal point of view?
  • Understanding corporate structure
  • Managing your IP
  • Talking about your idea revealing trade and secrets

Reflection on legal issues:

  • Determine your revenue and cost structure
  • Identify important milestones and KPIs for your startup

Financial models and KPIs

  • Determining how you will generate revenue
  • Financial projections for startups
  • Tracking milestones and important KPIs

Revenue Generation:

  • Determine your revenue and cost structure
  • Identify important milestones and KPIs for your startup

Building a Business Plan

  • Moving from concept to operating a viable business - identifying the key building blocks
  • Roadmap for the future

Business Model Generation:

  • Articulating your business' infrastructure, offerings, customers, revenue streams and more

Crafting and Articulating Your Vision to Stakeholders

  • Creating and telling a compelling story
  • Tips for communicating data and scientific information
  • Understanding what goes into an elevator pitch and a pitch presentation
  • Putting together an attractive business plan to present to stakeholders

Create a business plan:

  • Putting it all together into a compelling plan

Program Application 

This program is for McGill-affiliated aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage startups that are working on a medical or health-related innovation, and are looking to validate their idea and move towards launching a startup.

  • Your team has at least one member that is affiliated with McGill (e.g., student, faculty, staff or alumni).
  • Your team has at least one technical co-founder, and can build your business upon a technology, science, or idea that is significantly or radically disruptive.
  • Your startup is working on an innovation focused on improving health, quality of life, patient centered healthcare, preventing and curing diseases, and/or understanding how humans and animals function.

All team compositions: unidisciplinary, multi-disciplinary and inter-professional teams are welcomed and encouraged, as are teams that include learners or graduates.

A commitment towards attending all the workshops and executing the project work is required.

Candidates must apply online by September 26th, 2021 at 11:59 PM.


Have questions about the program? Contact Kika Armata for more information: kika.armata [at]

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