The Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program is a program funded by the National Science Foundation that aims to accelerate academic research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization. Through training and mentorship program participants are able to test the value of their business idea by talking to potential customers. Those who do well in the program may apply for up to $2,500 of funding to continue testing their business hypotheses via customer discovery. This program is a great preparation for anyone looking to participate in business plan competitions, seeking gap funding, or to apply for further federal funding (I-Corps Teams grant, SBIR/STTR grants, etc.).
Participants in this program must be ready to spend several hours per week working on their project over the 6 weeks of the program.
Mentors who report the highest satisfaction from the program usually dedicate 2 hours per week over 6 weeks to the program and engage in a variety of activities (training, bootcamps, individual team mentoring, or pitching). Learn more about the mentor experience.
Teams are expected to complete the first challenge before they can proceed to the main program. The challenge includes completing a short training, and interviewing 3 customers in one week.
The program starts with a series of workshops, to help teams learn the skills needed to test their business assumptions.
Teams participate in further training and weekly check-ins with industry mentors around specific topics. These bootcamps also provide an opportunity for participants and mentors to network and share tips.
The program ends with teams pitching their idea to a group of mentors and investors followed by a question and feedback session.