I-Corps Team Grant

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 bring technologies to market.

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 West Hub led by USC.

The I-Corps team will consist of three roles:

  • Entrepreneurial Lead (EL)
  • Technical Lead (TL)
  • Industrial Mentor (IM)

The Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) may be a postdoctoral scholar, graduate, or other student, staff member, researcher, or other personnel with relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigating the commercial potential and landscape surrounding the innovation. The Entrepreneurial Lead will typically guide translation of the technology, should the I-Corps Teams 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 relevant core technology about which the I-Corps team is exploring commercial potential. Typically, the Technical Lead will also serve as the Principal Investigator (PI) of the award.

The Industry Mentor (IM) will typically be an experienced entrepreneur or business leader with expertise in transitioning technology out of academic labs. The Industry Mentor should be a third-party resource and may be recommended by the proposing institution. The Industry Mentor will be responsible for advising the team on its progress throughout the I-Corps Program and will usually have contacts in the industry area(s) being explored. For more details on the role of the IM, please see the I-Corps FAQs. Other than their direct expenses for program participation, IMs are not compensated through I-Corps Team awards. Mentors are part of a volunteer cadre of leaders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

For more information, read the NSF Teams FAQ.


Published on July 1st, 2021

Last updated on August 4th, 2022