The National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (“I-Corps”) program is one of the nation’s leading technology transfer preparation programs. Modeled originally on the Peace Corps, I-Corps is the only technology transfer that teaches entrepreneurial skills. It was designed to help you, a university faculty member, bring your technologies to market. Non-tenure-track research faculty and tenure-track are both encouraged to apply.
You are eligible for $50,000 to conduct customer discovery while participating in an immersive entrepreneurial experience. The success rate for I-Corps teams applying for SBIR grants is roughly 50%, or at least 3 times higher than without this training. This funding comes directly to you as a university principal investigator.
Applications are required to have a NSF funding history. If you have NSF awards, you may apply directly for a team grant. If not, you may obtain your legacy by entering a short training program managed through the I-Corps Node led by USC.
Your team must have an entrepreneurial lead (EL) and an industry mentor (IM). The EL should be a graduate student or postdoc in your lab, while the industry mentor must come from the business world. Often I-Corps teams recruit retired business owners or others with strong sales experience.