I-Corps is a National Science Foundation initiative to increase the economic impact of research it has funded.

The I-Corps™ program was created by the NSF in 2011 to help move academic research it has funded to market. Through a dynamic collaboration with VentureWell, the NSF offers select participants from US academic laboratories the opportunity to participate in a special, accelerated version of Stanford University’s Lean LaunchPad course. This revolutionary course engages participants in moving products out of the lab and into the market by talking to potential customers, partners and competitors and encountering the challenges and uncertainty of creating successful innovations.

749

Teams Trained

83

$M Raised By Teams

324

Startups Founded

I-Corps is a National Science Foundation initiative to increase the economic impact of research it has funded.

The I-Corps™ program was created by the NSF in 2011 to help move academic research it has funded to market. Through a dynamic collaboration with VentureWell, the NSF offers select participants from US academic laboratories the opportunity to participate in a special, accelerated version of Stanford University’s Lean LaunchPad course. This revolutionary course engages participants in moving products out of the lab and into the market by talking to potential customers, partners and competitors and encountering the challenges and uncertainty of creating successful innovations.

The I-Corps™ environment is fast-paced and rigorous; teams are pushed, challenged, and questioned in the hope that they will learn quickly whether or not their ideas are worth pursuing. Teams are expected to complete at least ten customer interviews a week, which means that over the seven-week course teams will have contact with at least 100 potential customers.

The teams—composed of academic researchers, student entrepreneurs and business mentors—participate in the curriculum via online instruction and on-site activities through one of several I-Corps™ Nodes. I-Corps™ Sites catalyze additional groups to explore potential I-Corps™ Team projects and other entrepreneurial opportunities that build on academic research.

I-Corps delivers real-world, hands-on, immersive learning about the successful transfer of knowledge into products and processes.

It’s not about how to write a research paper, business plan, or NSF proposal. The end result is not a publication or a deck of slides or even a scientific discovery.

The I-Corps curriculum provides real-world, hands-on, immersive learning about what it takes to successfully transfer knowledge into products and processes that benefit society. It’s not about how to write a research paper, business plan, or NSF proposal. The end result is not a publication or a deck of slides or even a scientific discovery.

Instead the entire I-Corps Team will be engaged with industry; talking to customers, partners, and competitors; and encountering the chaos and uncertainty of creating successful innovations. Getting out of the laboratory/university is what the effort is about.

This curriculum requires full participation from the entire I-Corps Team. (Each team member must commit to in-depth preparation, attendance at the lectures and workshops, and at least 15 additional hours per week for Customer Discovery.

The I-Corps curriculum is built on a special, accelerated version of Stanford University’s Lean LaunchPad course and additional elements designed specifically for I-Corps grantees. All I-Corps Team members will be required to attend a kick-off workshop at an I-Corps Node, join a series of web-based lectures, and present their business pitches at a meeting of I-Corps grantees. All I-Corps Team members also are expected to invest significant effort in their projects outside of the university/laboratory environment.

Benefits / Deliverables Title

The I-Corps™ environment is fast-paced and rigorous; teams are pushed, challenged, and questioned in the hope that they will learn quickly whether or not their ideas are worth pursuing.

Benefits of Participation

Access to successful individuals that know how to commercialize technology
Opportunity to explore new markets for your innovation
Expand your network of business and scientific contacts through both formal and informal I-Corps events
Aid in building an innovation ecosystem in Texas and the larger Southwest region
Practice your presentation skills and learn how to effectively communicate your innovations to many different types of customers
Why Participate

Understand the process for determining market opportunity for new technology
Gain a perspective on the market/industry/customers
Enhance the probability of successful commercialization
Shorten the commercialization time-frame
Significantly increase the likelihood of SBIR/STTR funding
Grant funding for graduate student and prototype materials
Build relationship with NSF and future grant prospects
Learn about entrepreneurship and commercialization
Participating in I-Corps programming will help you:

Determine the commercial viability of your product/technology
Develop an effective business model that can be shared with third-party investors
Get access to technology licensing and funding opportunities
Network with business and education leaders
Regional vs National

Establish NSF lineage

I-Corps Teams are composed of three committed, engaged members.

Over a period of six months, I-Corps Teams learn what it will take to achieve an economic impact with their particular innovation.
Entrepreneurial Lead (EL)

The Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) is typically a postdoctoral researcher, graduate student, or other student. The EL possesses relevant technical knowledge and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation. The EL should also be prepared to support the transition of the technology, should the I-Corps project demonstrate a level of readiness appropriate to leave the academic institution.

Principal Investigator (PI)

The Principal Investigator (PI) serves as the technical lead and project manager. To be eligible, the PI must have a currently active NSF award, or one that has been active within the past five years.

Industry Mentor (IM)

The Industry Mentor (IM) is typically an experienced entrepreneur or business executive. The IM guides teams forward, helping them interpret customer comments, assisting the team in contacting relevant people, and keeping the team honest about what they are hearing from the marketplace.

The I-Corps™ environment is fast-paced and rigorous; teams are pushed, challenged, and questioned in the hope that they will learn quickly whether or not their ideas are worth pursuing.

The NSF Corps (I-Corps) is a seven-week hands-on course designed to enable scientists, engineers, and researchers to understand the potential value of their technology and inventions to society, by teaching participants how to assess the market opportunity for new technology and commercial potential.

Teams of three (3) complete course and receive a $50,000 grant to determine the commercial potential of their innovation:

  • Is there a clear problem/need for the technology?
  • Who are our customers?
  • Are they willing to pay?  Willing to pay enough?
  • Is the solution better than the competition?
  • Is there commercial potential?