By providing targeted seed funds for commercialization efforts, the proposed I-Corps Site will not only enhance existing innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) programs, but also significantly improve visibility of innovation and entrepreneurship and expand participation in existing technology transfer programs. Thirty teams per year are expected to receive I-Corps Site funding to translate ideas and research to the marketplace.
The Site entrepreneurial education program is based on the I-Corps curriculum with experiential, collaborative learning and uses the Business Model Canvas with the Lean LaunchPad methodology.
The objectives are to: (1) Enhance entrepreneurial activities and training experiences for undergraduate and graduate students at S&T; (2) Expand training opportunities available to post docs, faculty, underrepresented groups; (3) Increase the number of teams entering the NSF I-Corps program and other programs; and (4) Transition more activities to commercialization. Teams will be recruited from existing and new entrepreneurial student and faculty activities, course projects, research, and participants in local and regional venture competitions and entrepreneurship events.
The I-Corps Site will be a catalyst and morale booster to create a critical mass of innovators and entrepreneurs to establish more technology hubs, increase the state economic base, and engage civic leaders and other stakeholders. It will be a bridge for collaboration with more state wide startup communities.
Each site team will have the following composition: Academic teams will consist of an Entrepreneurial Lead (EL), Academic Lead (AL) and Mentor (M) and submit an application before the deadline.
Mentors (M) will be identified through various means such as faculty, alumni, professional staff and local and regional entrepreneurs.
Academic Leads (AL) will generally be a faculty member supervising or associated with the project idea and may be the PI for an I-Corps team project upon successful completion of the Site training.
Entrepreneurial Leads (EL) are students (undergraduate or graduate), post-doctoral scholars, faculty, professional staff, or community/regional individuals who have a passion and commitment for entrepreneurship and have an idea, project or research they want to pursue which is related to STEM areas.
For an entrepreneurial team to be considered for participation, the AL and M must complete the Site BMC/LLP workshop (multiple offerings per year) prior to the selection process. The EL completes an Experiential Entrepreneurship course (list courses) or a suitable replacement.
NSF has actively funded U.S. research universities since the 1950s. To accelerate the return on its investment, the NSF in 2012 started a tiered program called the Innovation-Corps (I-Corps™) to prepare scientists and engineers to translate their NSF funded research projects from the laboratory to commercialization.
Components of the NSF I-Corps program include:
- I-Corps Nodes: Node programs offer entrepreneurship training to university project teams accepted as I-Corps team sand support regional needs in innovation education, infrastructure and research. Training includes online instruction and on-site activities.
- I-Corps Teams: Teams need prior NSF funding or certified by going through a Site program and generally consist of three members: the principle investigator, the entrepreneurial lead, and the mentor. The principal investigator (PI) serves as the technical lead and project manager. The entrepreneurial lead (EL) typically a postdoctoral researcher, graduate student, or other student, possesses relevant technical knowledge and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation. The entrepreneurial lead should also be prepared to support the transition of the technology, should the I-Corps project demonstrate a level of readiness appropriate to leave the academic institution. The mentor (M) brings entrepreneurial experience and serves as the principal guide in determining the technology disposition. Currently, teams receive $50,000K if they become a grantee.
- I-Corps Curriculum: The curriculum is modeled after Steve Blank’s Stanford University and University of California-Berkeley Lean LaunchPad course with additional components designed specifically for I-Corps teams. The I-Corps curriculum is a 7-week immersion experience and accelerated from the normal university course timeframe.
- I-Corps Sites: The Site program facilitates academic institutions in taking technology projects to commercialization directly or become an I-Corp National Project Team applicant. The Sites program also provides this same opportunity to individuals across the state of Missouri. In addition, the Site Program provides infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training and modest funding (maximum of $3,000) to teams and an introduction to the I-Corps curriculum.
With support from experienced mentors, teams will learn about entrepreneurship and explore the transition from their ideas/projects to the marketplace. Upon completion of the I-Corps Site program, participants are eligible to apply for the NSF I-Corps Team program (an intensive 7-week NSF training with the opportunity to be awarded a $50,000 grant).