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NSF's Innovation Corps Pilot Program Turns One, Expansions Planned


The US National Science Foundation this week marks the first anniversary of Innovation Corps, or I-Corps, its three-year pilot program to connect the researchers it funds to technological, entrepreneurial, and business communities in an effort to "create a stronger national ecosystem for innovation that couples scientific discovery with technology development and societal needs," as the agency said at the program's launch.

In addition, NSF has announced additional teaching sites for the hands-on curriculum — Stanford University now joins the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan. "The curriculum is a hypothesis-based approach to assessing technological readiness that combines two site-based short courses, extensive online coaching and hands-on outreach to potential customers," NSF says. "I-Corps merges the structured coursework with guidance from NSF program officers and leading entrepreneurs, who committed their time to the program."

The agency adds that, of the nearly 100 teams — made up of academic researchers, student entrepreneurs, and business mentors — that participated in its initial I-Corps program, several have received NSF Small Business Innovation Research grants, "enabling them to develop companies based on what they have learned from the program."

NSF says it hopes to expand the I-Corps program to an additional 200 teams in the coming year, and is also soliciting proposals for new teaching sites to expand the program's national reach.