Toolkit for a 5-day workshop
on innovative product and service development

This Methodology Toolkit is designed to equip MA and PhD students and young researchers with the skills and experience to approach research from an entrepreneurial and market-driven perspective. The main idea behind is to think about the end users from the beginning of the development and to iteratively improve understanding and ideas for solutions. By emphasizing the importance of designing with the future customer in mind, researchers can create products, services, and systems tailored to the users' needs, and have the potential to make a real-world impact.

The workshop follows these learning objectives:

  • Develop an entrepreneurial mindset: Through the workshop, the participants will develop an entrepreneurial approach to research, learning how to think creatively, identify opportunities, and take risks.
  • Learn about process of research valorisation and commercialisation: The workshop will take participants through different phases of innovation cycle, including customer discovery, prototyping and testing, iterative design, technology and business validation, IPR management, and pitching.
  • Engage with real-world challenges: The workshop is designed to be highly practical, with participants engaging with real-world challenges.

Research bringing real-world impact

Duration: 15 min

In a short video series UNICO's CEO Vojtěch Nosek talks about Research design, Business validation, Valuation and Business development.

Extra info

Assess technologies with Technology radar

Duration: 2-3 hours

The aim of this activity is to evaluate a spin-out project, define its weak points and suggest actions for improvement.Technology radar is a radar chart with at least 8 criteria which is being used for assessment of technological projects. It is a fast and easy evaluation method to keep a track of your project portfolio and progress in time. This assessment can be used by the project team, technology transfer office or investor when evaluating a portfolio of projects.

Full instructions

Design Sprint workshop

Duration: 4-5 days

Design Sprint is a time-bound, 
structured innovation process that 
brings together cross-functional teams 
to rapidly ideate, prototype, and test solutions to complex problems,
typically within a week.

The big idea with the sprint is to build and test a prototype in just five days. It's kind of like fast-forwarding into the future so you can see how customers react before you invest all the time and expense of building a real product.

Full instructions in Google Doc


  • Solve problems and test new ideas in a focused and measurable way
  • Kickstart and obtain initial validation for product design work to maximize the chances of creating something people want.
  • The Design Sprint gives teams a shortcut to learning. Instead of waiting to launch a minimal product to understand if an idea is good, you’ll get clear data from a realistic prototype.


Before starting

  • Have a big challenge
  • Have a cross functional team (max. 7 people) ready with a clear calendar for 5 days
  • Make sure you have a decider on board


Day 1 - Understand & Define

Monday’s structured discussions create a path for the sprint week. In the morning, you’ll start at the end and agree to a long-term goal. Next, you’ll make a map of the challenge. In the afternoon, you’ll ask the experts at your company to share what they know. Finally, you’ll pick a target: an ambitious but manageable piece of the problem that you can solve in one week.

Templates & resources

Lightning talksMapLong term goal and Sprint questionsAsk the expertsHow might we questions

Day 2 - Ideate

After a full day of understanding the problem and choosing a target for your sprint, on Tuesday, you get to focus on solutions. The day starts with inspiration: a review of existing ideas to remix and improve. Then, in the afternoon, each person will sketch, following a four-step process that emphasizes critical thinking over artistry. You’ll also begin planning Friday’s customer test by recruiting customers that fit your target profile.

Templates & resources

Lightning demos4 step sketchSCAMPER

Day 3 - Select direction

By Wednesday morning, you and your team will have a stack of solutions. That’s great, but it’s also a problem. You can’t prototype and test them all—you need one solid plan. In the morning, you’ll critique each solution, and decide which ones have the best chance of achieving your long-term goal. Then, in the afternoon, you’ll take the winning scenes from your sketches and weave them into a storyboard: a step-by-step plan for your prototype.

Templates & resources

Sticky decisionStoryboardTechnology radar

Day 4 - Prototype

On Wednesday, you and your team created a storyboard. On Thursday, you’ll adopt a “fake it” philosophy to turn that storyboard into a prototype. A realistic façade is all you need to test with customers, and here’s the best part: by focusing on the customer-facing surface of your product or service, you can finish your prototype in just one day. On Thursday, you’ll also make sure everything is ready for Friday’s test by confirming the schedule, reviewing the prototype, and writing an interview script.

What to use

  • Office supplies
    Paper, stickers, your hands, cardboard, foam,..
  • Prototyping SW
    Figma, Sketch, Adobe XD, InVision
  • 3D modeling SW
    CAD, Blender, Maya, SketchUp,..
  • Physical models
    3D printing, LEGO, plywood, styrofoam,..
  • Other options
    Generative AI, fake doors, marketing,..

Templates & resources

Prototyping Day Tips by AJ&Smart

Day 5 - Test

Your sprint began with a big challenge, an excellent team—and not much else. By Friday, you’ve created promising solutions, chosen the best, and built a realistic prototype. That alone would make for an impressively productive week. But you’ll take it one step further as you interview customers and learn by watching them react to your prototype. This test makes the entire sprint worthwhile: At the end of the day, you’ll know how far you have to go, and you’ll know just what to do next.

Templates & resources

5 act interview

Next steps

  • Congratulate yourself and the team for great work. You now have a tested prototype and insights into how well it works.
  • Collect all the outcomes and prepare them for the debrief.
  • Plan a debrief session after the weekend to take further actions.

Sources & Extra reading

Pitching workshop

Duration: 3-4 hours

Participants will have the opportunity to practice pitching their technology/start-up ideas to a panel of peers and mentors.
This activity simulates a real-world pitching scenario, helping participants refine their communication skills and receive valuable feedback.

The pitching session can vary in length depending on the number of participants and the depth of feedback provided. It's recommended to allocate 3-5 minutes per pitch, with additional time for Q&A and feedback.

Full instructions