The I-Corps Site Program at UTRGV

The I-Corps Site Program at UTRGV

About the NSF Innovation I-Corps Program

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has established the Innovation Corps - National Innovation Network Teams Program (I-Corps Teams). The NSF I-Corps Teams Program purpose is to identify NSF-funded researchers who will receive additional support in the form of entrepreneurial education, mentoring and funding to accelerate innovation that can attract subsequent third-party funding. This will facilitate the application of scientific discoveries into technologies and products that eventually benefit society.

The NSF & I-Corps at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

In 2017 the Center for Innovation and Commercialization (CIC) at UTRGV was awarded an NSF Site Grant, with the sole purpose to assist in the goal of furthering entrepreneurial education and accelerating innovation. The purpose of the NSF I-Corps Teams grant is to give the project team access to resources to help determine the readiness to transition technology developed by previously-funded or currently funded NSF projects. The outcomes of I-Corps Teams projects will be threefold: 1) a clear go /or no go decision regarding viability of products and services, 2) should the decision be to move the effort forward, a transition plan for those projects to move forward, and 3) a definition of a compelling technology demonstration for potential partners.

Project Eligibility

All technologies will be considered and can be at any readiness level. All UTRGV, faculty, house staff, and graduate students may apply. Those awarded applications must agree to:

  • Participating in an I-Corps™ Workshop
    • The I-Corps™ Workshop is a 4-hour introduction to the lean methodology with a focus on customers and value propositions. Participants will learn the relevance of I-Corps™ and application in the commercialization pathway of academic ventures. Participants will understand how to generate relevant value propositions that meet a need of a specific customer segment. Participants will understand how to break customer segments in archetypes. Participants must attend 1 workshop to be eligible to apply for the Regional Program.

Creating an I-Corps Team

The I-Corps team will consist of three roles:

  1. Principal Investigator (PI)
  2. Entrepreneurial Lead (EL)
  3. I-Corps Mentor

Principal Investigator

The PI will be responsible for overall grant management. There is no specified limit on the number of Principal Investigators (PI). A PI may submit more than one I-Corps proposal during each submission window.

Entrepreneurial Lead

The EL can be comprised of one or more of faculty member, Resident, Post-Doctoral scholar, graduate or other student. Each member on the EL team should have relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation. The EL team should also be capable and have the will to support the transition of the technology, should the I-Corps project demonstrate the potential for commercial viability. The approach to develop the technology disposition will be a structured hypothesis/validation approach. The EL team will be responsible for proceeding along a content-guided path to develop, over the course of the grant, a final technology disposition plan. We can often assist in helping you identify an EL team if you do not have one identified.

I-Corps Mentor

The I-Corps Mentor will be an experienced or emerging entrepreneur with proximity to the institution and experience in transitioning technology to commercialization. The I-Corps Mentor will be responsible for guiding the team forward and tracking progress through regular communication with the Cognizant NSF I-Corps site director. The mentor is not paid for going through the program, but could become part of the venture if all parties so desire. We will assign you a suitable Mentor.

Click here to apply