Overview of UW NSF I-Corps Site Program

Do you have an idea that you think has commercial potential? Do you dream of starting a company sometime in the future? If your answers are yes, then the NSF I-Corps program may be right for you.

What is the I-Corps program?

The National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) is a federally funded program to accelerate academic research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization. As the collaborative innovation hub of the UW, CoMotion® has secured an NSF grant to establish an I-Corps Site on campus. The CoMotion I-Corps Site issues approximately 30 awards per year. Grantees learn to identify valuable commercial opportunities that can emerge from academic research, gain skills in entrepreneurship through training, develop a mentor network of seasoned entrepreneurs, and receive $2,500 to fund their customer discovery process.

Why apply for an I-Corps grant?

  • Improve your odds for commercial success.
  • Develop best practices for conducting customer discovery and identifying key stakeholders.
  • Learn, practice, and hone your entrepreneurial skills.
  • Understand market trends and needs in your technology area.
  • Expand your network of like-minded peers, instructors, investors, customers, and mentors.

Who should apply?

The I-Corps program is for teams or individuals who are ready for customer validation. You are ready to find out if you have customers who will pay for your product or service.

To be eligible for a UW NSF I-Corps Site grant, a team or individual must satisfy the following requirements:

You must be pursuing a startup or commercialization opportunity with a science or technology base. The team lead must be affiliated with the UW, although the intellectual property need not be assigned to the UW.

  • Team Lead (required). Typically a UW student, post-doctoral scholar, faculty member, or staff member, with relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation.
  • Academic Lead (encouraged). A UW faculty member. The Academic Lead must have an academic appointment that would normally qualify him or her to submit proposals or play the role of PI in subsequent submissions to the NSF.
  • Business Mentor (encouraged). Typically an experienced or emerging entrepreneur. If you do not yet have a strong mentor, let us know. We can help make introductions through our networks.

In addition to applying for an I-Corps Site grant, teams are also encouraged to participate in other entrepreneurship training opportunities around campus, such as the UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship’s annual Dempsey Startup Competition, the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, and  the UW Health Innovation Challenge. Eligible teams should also consider applying for the NSF National I-Corps Team grants or Phase 0.

Selection process

Team and commitment. The first and most important goal of the UW I-Corps Program is to teach grantees how to approach commercialization. We are looking for teams who are enthusiastic about technology commercialization and have clear goals. When you apply, make sure that:

  • The team structure conforms to the eligibility requirements (see Who should apply section).
  • Team members have sufficient time and interest to participate in the I-Corps training and explore commercialization of the technology.
  • You can articulate a clear preliminary vision for the commercialization of the technology. This will ensure a strong starting point in the I-Corps program’s customer/product ecosystem discovery process.

Commercial potential. The selection committee is looking for a thoughtful and plausible explanation of how your technology might be turned into a scaleable product. Much of the program is dedicated to testing your hypotheses about commercialization. However, strong applicants will have some ideas about what a product would look like, who would buy it, and who their competitors would be.

I-Corps Selection Committee

The selection committee for the UW NSF I-Corps Site grants program is comprised of:

Program details and requirements

  • Selected teams receive $2,500 to fund their customer and ecosystem discovery process.
  • Team Leads attend a special training that introduces the lean startup methodology (see Program resources section) and techniques to conduct customer and ecosystem discovery through field interviews. All team members are encouraged to attend.
  • Teams must conduct at least ten customer interviews and submit a final report detailing the work accomplished with the grant.
  • Teams have until the final report due date to spend the award money (for an exact date see the How to apply section).

Wondering what comes after I-Corps?

Select grantees who successfully complete the I-Corps program requirements will be eligible for further training through the BOOM program, and may eventually apply for further funding through the National I-Corps Program.

How to apply

Application steps

You will need to complete an application form. Make sure to record your responses in a separate document, as you will not be able to save responses in the form. You will receive a copy of your responses via e-mail upon submission of your application.

CLICK HERE to go to the application form

Application timeline


  • Cohort Application closes: 2nd Friday in November
  • Grantees announced: 2nd Friday in December
  • Training dates to be announced after application closure
  • Final reports due: 1st Monday in July


  • Cohort Application closes: May 8, 2020
  • Grantees announced: May 27, 2020
  • Training 1: June 23, 2020 or June 24, 2020
  • Final reports due: December 14, 2020

All training and events will be held at CoMotion Labs @ Fluke Hall, 3rd floor, 4000 Mason Rd., Seattle, WA 98105 (Directions here)

Past grantees


Matthew Sissel

For people at rock climbing gyms who can’t figure out the techniques to climb a given route, BoulderBeta is the video-based solutions manual that shows them. It provides an easily navigable database of routes while also building local climbing communities.

Chibage Chip
Tamuka Chidyausiku

Chibage Chip is a biosensor that gives commercial almond, vine, or maize farmers a tool to combat the agricultural effects of climate changewhile helping plant biology researchers answer questions about global warming.

Computational Health Services Evaluation Tool
Scott Spencer

For health insurance underwriting entitieswho design benefit and coverage packages, this predictive model is a precise decision-making tool that provides accurate insight into downstream utilization of healthservices and associated costs.

Eastlake Robotics
Sergii Pochekailov

For life sciences laboratories, Eastlake Robotics automates a wide range of routinely-performed experimentsthat cannot be automated using existing industrial solutions.

Justin Junn

knownMD provides access to expert guidance and information to consumers who are searchingfor a great physician, regardless of their benefits plan or insurance company.Unlike patient reviews and “top doctor” lists, knownMD gathers recommendations from young physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Jonathan Gosting

Locket makes it easy for people to protect their legacy by ensuring their estate plan is secure, complete, and accessible.

Logical Drug Delivery System
Ilya Zlatkovsky

This technology helps pharmaceutical experts develop novel drugs that need to be targeted to particularphysiological conditions, or onesin the pipelinethat may need a dose reduction due to high toxicity.

Lonely Produce
Claire Baron

For farmers growing local produce and businesses seeking to keep their dollars in the community, Lonely Produce is the two-way marketplace that connects buyers and sellers.

LostDawg – Ikarus
Keya Madhukar

For extreme sports and adventure enthusiasts, this action product is a fully programmable AI-based platform that enables users to capture experiences and get assistance using gestures or voice commands across multiple smart devices like drones, smartwatches, and dash-cams.

Jennifer Steger

TheNanodropper is an affordable, universal eyedropper adaptor that decreases the volume of oversized eyedrops toreduce cost, waste, and side effects, ultimatelyincreasing access to expensive prescription eye medications.

Maher Khelifi

NURI uses doctor recommendations to match patients with cardiovascular problems to the best available services.

Optheia Insights
Amy Chen

This device remotely communicates standardized anterior eye images of patients in order to help specialty ophthalmology clinics improve quality of patient care, increase patient access to expertise, and decrease time wasted on unnecessary follow up visits.

Reflection Toolkit
Wendy Roldan

For engineering educators who are interested in the design of reflection activities, the reflection toolkit will make practical and tangible the insights gathered throughscholarship on reflection.

Smart Acoustic-based Security System
Shima Abadi

The smart noise-detecting features of this security system make it ideal for home monitoring, baby safety, older adult safety, and assistance for those with hearing disabilities.

Tailored Forks
Kenneth Aphibal

Tailored Forks is a food concierge service for the busy, health-focused person. This service consults culinary and nutrition professionals to plan and execute healthy eating at an affordable and value-driven price point.

Theranostic Vest
Larry Pierce

Theranostic Vest produces a wearable technology that improvespatient response to cancer therapy.

XFlow Energy
Benjamin Strom

XFlow Energy is focused on minimizing the cost of wind energy by developingreliable,high-performancevertical axis wind turbine technologies while driving down initial capital, maintenance, and transportation costs.


Astrolabe Analytics
Robert Masse

Using a suite of cloud computing, data management, and machine learning techniques, Astrolabe Analytics enables battery startups and manufacturers to utilize their battery data better to make better batteries.

Manuel Nordhoff

Augury is a software tool that can increase the speed, diversity, accuracy, and cost-efficiency of a design project by predicting how attractive changes to a website will be to a particular target audience anywhere in the world.

Back to school
Proshonjit Mitra

Back to school is focused ondecreasing congestion on Seattle roads by creating additional transportation options for parents who drive their kids to school before continuing on to work.

Dylan Rose

CLiP is a camera embedded in a stylish headband that allows live music listeners to capture their favorite events. For the fans and artists, it provides better live engagement by reducing screen usage and increases post-show engagement through its online viewing platform.

Custom milled Zirconia Dental Implant
Sepideh Rahmani

The Zirconia Dental Implant is a non-surgical instant replacement for an extracted tooth, made with thehelp of 3D scanning data and CAD/CAM.

Laura Adam

Ebio·ome is a web platform to facilitate synthetic biologists’ work by managing their data.

Madeline Bennett

For music lovers, Otogear combines a hearing protection device and an attractive design into a customizable product that fans will want to wear everywhere.

Woody Fuller

ECoS is a Microsoft Word Plug-In providing help to users looking to streamline and optimize the process of preparing, editing, and publishing documents. For document editors, the tools allows them to quickly critique documents and state rules missed. For writers, the tool provides a quick turn-around and clear instructions (with examples) on how to improve their document.

Marium Raza

Elixir connects thousands of clinics and community health centers with the populations who need them the most.

Tina Li

FlushCut is a simple in-surgical tool that speeds up mandibularreconstruction surgery, resulting in faster patient recovery and greater success.

Matt Kaeberlein

Gerotech produces an easy-to-use system that reduces time and labor costs while increasing the throughput and quality of assays.

Sindhuja Dutta

GradnGo is a service that aims to help grad students who are coming to the US from India for the first time. It allows students to pick and pay for thefood, transport, and communicationservices they want once they arrive in the States.

Alex Takakuwa

msync provides a platform for alternative audio to be streamed and synced over existing video contentwhileconnecting consumers and producers of said content.

Matthew Tolentino

Using real time analyticsand wearable hardware, Namatad offers an on-scene fire response systemfor fire departmentsthat delivers visibility into response operations.Namatad also offers a safety system for schools, using smart badges to providevisibility into your child’s location and safety.

NDE Sensor Films
Ryan Toivola

For people who make and fly commercial aircraft, we have developed polymer films that change color and become fluorescent when exposed to elevated temperatures. This provides high reliability permanent measurements on the temperature history the materials were exposed to with no need for wiring, contrary to current products.

Next-generation protein therapeutics
Stephanie Berger

In order to overcome pitfalls in existing standard-of-care therapies, we have designed a database to more accurately generate and screen drug candidates.

George Ueda

Leveraging advances in computational protein design, Olico aims to engineer the next generation of biologics, i.e. naturally-derived large molecules used to treat many disease states, to improve upon existing therapeutics and cater to a variety of untreated diseases.

Madeline Bennett

For music lovers, Otogear combines a hearing protection device and an attractive design into a customizable product that fans will want to wear everywhere.

The ‘Ask A…’ Project (Ross Reynolds)
Ross Reynolds

‘Ask A…’ is a human interaction process designed to improve empathy and understanding between groups, paving the way for greater co-operation, improved work performance and enhanced understanding.

Jae-Hyun Chung

WearSens produces a novel non-contact sensor to track eyeball movement, openingup new avenues to wearable sensors for entertainment, human-machine interface, and healthcare.


A-Alpha Bio
David Younger, Bob Lamm, Eric Klavins, David Baker

A-Alpha Bio offers a novel more precise way to evaluate how drugs are likely to interact with their surroundings. By measuring the extent and nature of protein to protein interaction, it is able to predict more accurately than current technology whether or not the drug may be counteracted by the biome in the patient’s body.

Di Sun, Karl Böhringer, Mike Robinson

Dust can reduce solar panel efficiency by up to 35 percent and current cleaning systems can be expensive and cumbersome to use. Aquapel is a self-cleaning coating technology which repels oil and water and reduces dust accumulation.

Katharina Reinecke, Manuel Nordhoff

Using itemized data, Augury is a computer program that is able to predict whether new websites will be perceived as appealing, trustworthy and usable by their target users.

Biomimetic Intelligence
Mehmet Sarikaya, Berk Ustundag

Mimicking the way the human brain stores information, this machine learning technology is capable compressing groups of files of similar types for storage.

Albert Nguyen, Jizhe Sun, Eli McCormick, Ana Silvera, Purushothaman Padmanabhan

This team designed a device that allows for easier and cleaner connection between the various parts involved in performing home dialysis. This device lowers the risk of infection for patients and simplifies the process, overall improving patients’ quality of life.

Emerald Snake Media
Claire Jennings, Jason Pace, Lisa Seacat Deluca

This team is producing computer science picture books for children using computer language to help them understand the world in which they are growing up.

William Zhou

With sustainability in mind, this team invented a set of smart garbage cans that can give feedback to the user on where to throw individual pieces of waste and educate them on waste production generally.

Tom Malone, Mark Pedro, Kevin Dibble

This team has developed a system capable of autonomously maintaining a facility’s inventory using a combination of drones, robots and stationary devices. This allows for supply chain optimization and immediate response to security breaches.

Vishaal Diwan, Dana Scott, Nicole Simon, Andrew Fry

The HandiMaps application maps the inside of venues strictly based on accessibility and allows those with a disability the freedom and flexibility to enjoy each and every outing on their terms.

James Joslin

MarineSitu offers advanced marine monitoring technology services that help companies fulfill their regulatory obligations for environmental monitoring.

Greg Newbloom, Lilo Pozzo

Membrion created a highly versatile filtering membrane. This technology has potential applications in various industries by improving performance of batteries, water purification, food processing or pharmaceutical production alike.

Oli Fitness
Alexander Orozco, Charlton Smith, Chris Dejarlais

Oli is a software based personal training program that guides users looking to do weightlifting. It provides a low cost solution to people interested in that activity and decreases the risk of injury from inadequate handling or body positioning.

Quinton PHSH
Kenza Coubrough, Elizabeth Halsne, Justin Meith

This device improves support and comfort for patients with abdominal hernias. Current devices tend to be uncomfortable and offer less support.

Rashomon Security
Ian Smith, Tadayoshi Kohno

This technology provides a reliable solution for companies to delete their sensitive data from public cloud servers.

Patrick Aubin, James Burke, Chris Richburg

For the 9 million Americans with knee arthritis and knee pain that require the use of a cane, SnapCane reinvents the cane by providing user feedback to encourage proper use, reduce knee pain and delay need for joint surgery.

Team Brewscience
Travis Guterson, Reagan Stovall, Andrew Gates, Andrew Klonitsko, Matthew Tolentino

By measuring the specific gravity of various liquids both cheaply and accurately, this team can improve the brewing process.  The current measurement method is less accurate and requires a discerning eye.

Team Swarm FX
Ashraf Faraj, Lilo Pozzo, Angela Kimber, Abdul-Hadi Jmaileh, John Gangi, Zoe Kootstra, Dilraj Bal, Kibaek Jeong, Lenny Lin, Hirotoshi Maeda, Anya Raj, LJ Yan, Emma Hohenstein, Taylor Banks

This team has developed a new more eco-friendly type of foam to fight wild fires. It is also lightweight and compactable enough to be transported and released by drones.

Team Traffigram
Sungsoo Hong, Mania Orand, Mia Suh, Rafal Kocielnik, Min-Joon Yoo, Thana-Pn Punkasem

Based on research showing improved decision-making, Traffigram is an interactive map system that allows users to choose among several destinations according to the time it would take them to get there. Current technology does not offer a one-glance comprehensive view of time-to-destination for multiple destinations.

Rachel Umoren, Megan Gray, Taylor Sawyer, Patrick Motz, Caitlin Esworthy, Jennifer Kett, David Woodrum, Douglas Danford

Using augmented reality, VANESSA is a training platform designed to improve training of physicians looking to develop expertise in prenatal counseling. Current training lacks patient diversity and availability VANESSA offers.


6ixS Vascular Solutions
Isaac Lam, Melissa Gile, Nicholas Zhen Hung Soo, Jason Dang, Anna Nordstrom, Ellyce Shulman

By creating a synthetic vascular graft that heals completely into a native vessel, this team can vastly improve the outcome of vascular surgeries. The most prevalent synthetic graft in the market for hemodialysis currently has a success rate of only 50 percent over a one-year period.

Bio-methane production units
Kevin Cussen, Sara Brostrom, Sameer Dawande, Sam Wright, Stacy Vautour Hanks, KaiQing Zhu

By creating and installing bio-methane production units in homes, indoor biomass pollution will be reduced. Indoor pollution created by households using biomass (charcoal, wood and dung) is the leading cause of death in India.

Brain tissue displacement detection device
Peter Chiarelli, Devon Griggs, Maitham Naeemi, Michael Lenning

This non-imaging ultrasound device that can detect the point of the largest brain tissue displacement due to blood pooling in the cranium better and faster than current techniques (including CT scans).

Diabetics breath analyzer
Danling Wang, Qifeng Zhang

Patients with diabetes currently monitor their health by using finger pricks and blood tests. This team is developing a low-cost, portable breath analyzer using materials with a sensitive response to acetone.

Ryan Ahearn, Leila Asfari, Tessa Gomes, Jack Kamel, Emraj Sidhu, Marene Miley, Paul Denisenko

Eta1 decreases greenhouse gas emissions by using Heat Energy Return (H.E.R.) to improve the performance and fuel efficiency of any gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle.

Christian Taylor, Ian Turner, Justin Lee

FitTraction is a web and mobile application that is going to revolutionize the fitness industry by improving motivation, accountability, and engagement resulting in higher member retention rates, more people involved in training, and healthier individuals.

Geo-tagged social media usage
Korey Padilla, Thomas Kuljam, Jim Thatcher

By using geo-tagged food and drink-related posts and aggregrating the posts into one place, customers and restaurants are able to access a wider variety of reviews.

Rucha Nimbalkar, Damiene Stewart, Jumana Karwa, Samir Sbai, Xinhe Wang, Sri Hari Vignesh, Pooja Vade

iTrajectory uses GPS to track the user’s trajectory over time, then combines that trajectory information with social media usage.

William Canestaro

The Institute for Protein Design has developed a novel therapeutic enzyme, KumaMax, which benefits patients with Celiac disease by cleaving the immunogenic region of gluten in the patient’s stomach.

Kevin Fukuhara, Vikas Singh, Nihal Uppugunduri, Saket Potluri, Jacob Jagodinski

OstomyTech’s Individualized Wafer Cutting System (IWCS) is a stoma management system including a smartphone application and a personalized wafer service, which creates personalized stoma wafers that are safer than current self-serve stoma wafer cutting system.

Non-invasive IOT blood pressure measurement
Jared Herdlevar, Jeffery Lytle, Willie Jensen, Mindy Huynh

Data is collected through an IOT device using pulse transit time, which is able to be analyzed and collected.

Smart Charger Pro
Nannan Jiang, Niccolo Fortes, Samson M. Smith, Yutian Qian

The Smart Charger Pro charges electronic devices with optimal and customizable charging time by creating a longer lasting charge and better preserved battery quality.

Student-focused computer voice commands
Ren-Wei Larry Chang, Mae Oreiro, Javier Serrano, Jonathan Suh, Mark Dela Rosa, Huy Ngo

This team bridges the gap between students with impaired vision and other disabilities by creating an automated voice interpretation software beyond what current technologies offer.

Travel and travel planning application
Aaron Joya, Sahith Cheera

By developing a mobile application allowing customers to find pre-established routes in a specified travel destination, customers are able to travel plan more easily.

Brian Stuart, Zach Sulauf, Moe Malakoutian

Triangul8 is a simple, icebreaking social game that fosters communication and strategic thought between two people or two couples and is played online or using mobile devices.

Z-ion+ Technology
Ruying Chen, Sabrina Kamran, Marvin Mecwan, Marleny Santos

Z-ion+ long-lasting grafts have coatings that prevent blood clots. Currently, 75 percent of grafts fail within two years of implementation. Z-ion+ Technology solves this issue.

Program resources

Contact us

CoMotion at University of Washington
4545 Roosevelt Way NE, Suite 400, Seattle, WA 98105