New NSF Innovation-Corps (I-Corps) Program to Provide Startup Support

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Posted on: August 18, 2011

On July 28, 2011, the National Science Foundation launched Innovation-Corps (I-Corps), a public-private partnership designed to bring promising research projects out of the lab and into the marketplace. Supported by the Deshpande and Kauffman Foundations, I-Corps was developed in conjunction with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and is a part of the Obama Administration’s focus on innovation. Through I-Corps, NSF seeks to identify and nurture research capable of transitioning out of academia and the laboratory, and link it into a broader network of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts. I-Corps requires awardees to attend classes and learn the mechanics of creating a start-up company. Awardees would be required to assess their field and potential competitors, determine their customer base, attract investment, and market their ideas. Critically, this process is meant to enable grantees to define what value their idea or invention adds to the marketplace. While there are many possible outcomes for I-Corps teams, those envisioned by NSF include: start-up businesses, licenses to technologies or products, SBIR proposals, and business plans ready for investor support. Each team will utilize a mentor, who is a volunteer from the private sector with expertise in converting academic research into commercial products and technologies. NSF anticipates awarding one hundred $50,000 grants a year for three years. Each award will be made to a team led by a Principal Investigator (PI). PIs must either be current NSF grantees or have received an NSF award within five years previous to submitting an I-Corps proposal. More information is available at