Benefits of I-Corps

The I-Corps program offers many potential benefits to participants. Here is a short list derived from the experience of past participants.

  • LEARN what it takes to commercialize your technology, along with the barriers to adoption and how to overcome them
  • DETERMINE the real-world impacts of your research or technology
  • EXPAND your network with introductions to potential mentors, customers and investors
  • IDENTIFY increased commercial potential for your technologies
  • INCREASE your probability for grant success with the credibility I-Corps provides
  • SAVE years and money by accelerating your understanding of your product and its market
  • ESTABLISH a path to the NSF’s I-Corps national program, which provides grants of $50,000 for I-Corps, and subsequent opportunities for SBIR grants

Who Qualifies for the Program?

Teams may come from regional universities, federal labs/agencies, and from the general community. However, specific program cohorts may be limited to certain team types, so please check for additional qualifications in the schedule for upcoming programs. Teams are expected to be technology-based, with specific innovations to test in the market, and be available and commit to all course work. If you have a question about whether you qualify, please contact us.

Teams will all go through a formal application process, and will be judged on a combination of the following factors: commercial readiness of technology, potential market impact of innovation, and team qualifications and dynamics.

Who Qualifies for the Program?

Teams may come from regional universities, federal labs/agencies, and from the general community. However, specific program cohorts may be limited to certain team types, so please check for additional qualifications in the schedule for upcoming programs. Teams are expected to be technology-based, with specific innovations to test in the market. If you have a question about whether you qualify, please contact us.

Teams will all go through a formal application process, and will be judged on a combination of the following factors: 1) commercial readiness of technology, (2) potential market impact of innovation, and (3) team qualifications and dynamics.

Curriculum

The I-Corps curriculum provides a real-world, hands-on, immersive learning experience about how to transform innovations into successful products and services. It’s not about how to write a research paper, business plan, or grant proposal. The end result is not a publication, slide deck, or a scientific discovery.

Instead, the entire I-Corps team will be engaged with industry; talking to customers, partners, and competitors; and encountering the chaos and uncertainty of transforming innovations into successful commercial opportunities. The program will force you to get out of your laboratory, university, or garage – and will often push you beyond your comfort zone.

This curriculum requires full participation from the entire I-Corps team. Each team member must commit to in-depth preparation, attendance at the lectures and workshops, and WebEx conference calls. If you cannot commit 15-20 hours per week, the Mid-Atlantic I-Corps Hub effort is not for you.

What Makes a Team?

A traditional I-Corps team consists of three individuals: an Entrepreneurial Lead (EL), a Principal Investigator (PI), and an Industry Mentor (IM). This three-person team has proven very successful in most cases. However, in some cases, it may not be possible for the Principal Investigator (PI) to participate in the program. In other cases, it may be possible for the Principal Investigator to act as an EL.

The I-Corps Mid-Atlantic Hub program will accept teams with two or three participants, as long as each team has a designated EL and IM. Teams of four may participate with prior approval from the teaching team.

Required Team Roles

The Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) acts as the team leader and spokesperson. Regardless of whether this person comes from a university, federal lab/agency, or community at large, this individual must have a strong desire to explore the commercial potential of the innovation brought by the team. Ideally, this person will have intimate knowledge of the technology even if he or she is not the original inventor. For university and federal lab/agency teams, a graduate student or post-doc will often fill this role.

In some cases, the inventor or principal investigator may act as the EL for two-person teams. For community-based teams (those that do not come from a university or federal lab/agency), the EL may be any team member other than the Industry Mentor. Any team may choose to have more than one EL with prior approval from the teaching team.

The Industry Mentor (IM)
will typically be an experienced entrepreneur or business executive. The IM is a third-party resource and sounding board. Mentors guide teams forward, help them interpret customer comments, assist the team in contacting relevant people, and keep the team honest about what they are hearing from the marketplace. If you do not have an appropriate mentor, we can help you find a suitable match. Teams may also have more than one mentor with prior approval from the teaching team.

Required Team Roles

The Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) acts as the team leader and spokesperson. Regardless of whether this person comes from a university, federal lab/agency, or community at large, this individual must have a strong desire to explore the commercial potential of the innovation brought by the team. Ideally, this person will have intimate knowledge of the technology even if he or she is not the original inventor. For university and federal lab/agency teams, a graduate student or post-doc will often fill this role.

In some cases, the inventor or principal investigator may act as the EL for two-person teams. For community-based teams (those that do not come from a university or federal lab/agency), the EL may be any team member other than the Industry Mentor. Any team may choose to have more than one EL with prior approval from the teaching team.

The Industry Mentor (IM)
will typically be an experienced entrepreneur or business executive. The IM is a third-party resource and sounding board. Mentors guide teams forward, help them interpret customer comments, assist the team in contacting relevant people, and keep the team honest about what they are hearing from the marketplace. If you do not have an appropriate mentor, we can help you find a suitable match. Teams may also have more than one mentor with prior approval from the teaching team.

Mentors can review the DC I-Corps Mentor Handbook
here.

Would your idea work in the real world?

FAQs

What is the difference between the regional I-Corps and the national NSF I-Corps programs?

    The Mid-Atlantic I-Corps Hub is designed to be a regional program, meant to foster and grow the wealth of knowledge in the greater mid-Atlantic area. For the Hub program, you do not need prior NSF funding. We encourage faculty at regional universities, researchers at federal labs, and technology entrepreneurs from the general community to apply to this program. The NSF I-Corps program requires that the lead faculty member (PI) have an NSF lineage. The National Program also provides $50K in grant money to complete the program, whereas the I-Corps Hub program does not.

    Do we need a previous grant to qualify for the Mid-Atlantic I-Corps Hub?

      No.

      Can you help me find a mentor?

        Absolutely! Please contact us at icorps@umd.edu

        Does the entire team have to attend the on-site training sessions & participate in the WebEx calls once a week?

          Yes, all members of the team need to be involved in the entire process, including both onsite programs and the WebEx calls.

          At what stage does my project need to be?

            Please click here for program requirements.

            Should I have disclosed the IP or have a patent filed prior to attending?

              We strongly encourage university and federal lab participants to speak with their Tech Transfer offices and/or patent attorneys prior to attending the program. There is the potential that IP information could be disclosed during the course of this program, although it is highly discouraged and should not be necessary.

              Not a fit for traditional I-Corps?