What is I-Corps?

The National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program uses experiential education to help researchers gain valuable insight into entrepreneurship, starting a business or industry requirements and challenges. I-Corps enables the transformation of invention to impact. The curriculum integrates scientific inquiry and industrial discovery in an inclusive, data-driven culture driven by rigor, relevance, and evidence. Through I-Corps training, researchers can reduce the time to translate a promising idea from the laboratory to the marketplace.

What is the NSF I-Corps Mid-Atlantic Hub?

Across the country, Hubs implement the I-Corps™ program in the research community by creating a network of universities that help researchers learn how to translate fundamental research to the marketplace. The I-Corps Hubs form the new operational backbone of the National Innovation Network, a network of universities, NSF-funded researchers, established entrepreneurs, local and regional entrepreneurial communities, and other federal agencies. Hubs work collaboratively to build and sustain a diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem throughout the U.S.

The I-Corps Mid-Atlantic Hub is a collaboration of 10 large research institutions spanning North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania. The Hub is led by the University of Maryland and seeks to pool the combined resources of universities to standardize and spread I-Corps training across the region.

Why I-Corps?

I-Corps provides real-world, hands-on training on how to successfully incorporate innovations into successful products. The ultimate goal is to create a new venture or licensing opportunity for program participants.

The I-Corps curriculum was developed, and is taught, by successful technology entrepreneurs. Each participant in the I-Corps program will engage extensively with industry. Over the course of several weeks, you will talk to a minimum of one hundred customers, partners, competitors, and other market stakeholders. During this time, you will be seeking a solid product-market fit and building a viable business model for your innovation. Along the way, you will address several fundamental questions:

  • Who are your real customers?
  • Why will customers buy products or services based on your technology?
  • How will you get the product to your customers?
  • How will you make money?
  • How big is the potential market?
  • Who are your competitors?