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.
We had some idea after I-Corps that we needed certain things to get ready for the market.
Ramani Duraiswami, co-founder, VisiSonics / I-Corps Team December 2012
The National Innovation Network
Components of the NSF I-Corps National Innovation Network work together to grow and sustain the national innovation ecosystem. Through NSF activities and collaboration with other government agencies, NSF helps foster innovation among faculty and students, promote regional coordination and linkages, and develop networks.
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.
I-Corps Sites nurture and support multiple, local teams to transition their technology concepts into the marketplace. The Sites provide infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training and modest funding to enable groups to transition their work into the marketplace or into becoming I-Corps Team applicants. Sites are single-institution efforts to support innovation locally.
NSF has partnered with VentureWell to foster the National Innovation Network. Members of the I-Corps network can find additional resources on the VentureWell website.
I-Corps Nodes support regional needs for innovation education, infrastructure and research. The I-Corps Nodes work cooperatively to build, utilize and sustain a national innovation ecosystem that further enhances the development of technologies, products and processes that benefit society. Nodes are single- or multi-institution efforts to support innovation regionally.
NSF hosts monthly webinars about the Teams program and annual webinars about Nodes, Sites and supplements.
I-Corps Resources provide more information about the I-Corps curriculum and program, VentureWell and further reading.