The National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps program prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the university laboratory and accelerates the economic and societal benefits of NSF-funded, basic-research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization.
Through I-Corps, NSF grantees learn to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research, and gain skills in entrepreneurship through training in customer discovery and guidance from established entrepreneurs.
I-Corps Teams participate in the seven-week I-Corps curriculum. Each I-Corps Team learns what it will take to achieve a commercial impact with their innovation. The I-Corps curriculum enables Teams to systematically identify and address knowledge gaps to understand the most appropriate path forward for their technology concept. I-Corps Team awards support the team’s participation in the curriculum and their customer discovery work.
Each I-Corps team consists of three members: The Entrepreneurial Lead, the Technical Lead, and Industry Mentor.
The Entrepreneurial Lead ( EL ) can be a postdoctoral scholar, graduate, or other student with relevant knowledge of the proposed technology and a deep commitment to investigating the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation. The Entrepreneurial Lead should also be both willing and able to support the transition of the technology, should the I-Corps project demonstrate the potential for commercial viability.
The Technical Lead (TL) will typically be a faculty member, senior research scientist or postdoctoral scholar with deep and direct technical expertise in the actual core technology about which the I-Corps team is exploring commercial potential.
The Industry Mentor( IM ) will typically be an experienced or emerging entrepreneur who operates in proximity to the institution and is experienced in transitioning technology out of academic labs. The Industry Mentor may be recommended by the proposing institution or may be a member of the NSF-supported I-Corps Mentors network. The Industry Mentor will be responsible for guiding the team forward and reporting on its progress through regular communication with the cognizant NSF I-Corps Program Director.
The teams who have been selected make up the I-Corps cohort.