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National NSF I-Corps

The National Innovation Corps ( I-CorpsTM ) program is designed to prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and to accelerate the transfer of cutting-edge, NSF-funded research into commercial success. Through extensive customer engagement, teams are able to validate potential applications of their technology. The curriculum is an immersive 7-week program designed to avoid building a product that no one wants; the number one reason startups fail.

Teams—composed of academic researchers, student entrepreneurs and business mentors—participate in the curriculum via online instruction and on-site activities through one of the NSF I-CorpsTM Nodes. Teams are expected to complete at least fifteen customer interviews a week, which means that over the 7-week course, teams will have contact with over 100 potential customers. For more information on applying as an I-Corps team visit the NSF I-Corps Teams page.

Benefits of the Program

  • Understanding why your technology has value and to whom.
  • Finding a market for your technology that had not been previously considered.
  • Gaining an appreciation for what it takes to commercialize technology and the barriers to adoption.
  • An expanded network of like-minded peers, instructors, investors, customers, and mentors.
  • An accelerated approach to prevent years of wasted time, money and resources.
  • The program is supported by NSF certified I-Corps instructors and a $50,000 grant from the NSF.

To Apply

Eligible I-Corps teams will go through a formal application process, beginning with an application submission to the NSF. In the days following, team members will be coached by the MWIN I-CorpsTM technology specialists in preparation for their interview with NSF. Teams are evaluated on a combination of factors, including the commercial readiness of technology, the potential market impact of innovation, and the team’s commitment and qualifications. Unlike other federal grants, the application and approval process usually completes in under 30 days.