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September 14, 2023 | Tom Ballard

NSF announces several complementary add-ons to its I-Corps program

The multi-phase program now includes the Jumpstart Academy, then I-Corps, and finally the Next-Steps Accelerator.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced a $5 million award to the University of Illinois to develop a novel entrepreneurial training and mentoring program for academic researchers that builds on the highly successful “NSF Innovation Corps” (I-Corps™) program.

“The new entrepreneurial training aligns with the goals of the ‘CHIPS and Science Act of 2022,'” said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF Assistant Director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP). “It will serve to accelerate the translation of research and increase the successful commercialization of key technology areas, thereby strengthening U.S. economic competitiveness.”

According to the announcement, the pilot is a comprehensive approach to entrepreneurial training that specifically builds upon and extends the long-running I-Corps that uses the customer discovery process to validate customer segments, value propositions and other aspects of the business model. The new training framework consists of three components, starting with something called the Jumpstart Academy, then I-Corps, and concluding with the Next-Steps Accelerator, which provides support services and additional training for a start-up launch.

Training topics include:

  • Validating the business model;
  • Forming the founding team;
  • Registering the business licensing and protecting intellectual property;
  • Obtaining sources of capital;
  • Pitching to investors; and
  • Preparing for start-up growth and exit strategies.

Upon successfully completing the training, participants will receive additional support services such as industry-specific mentoring and funds for additional research to develop and test a minimum viable product.

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