National Science Foundation I-Corps Site

The NSF awarded Invent Penn State I-Corps Site status and $500,000 in September 2017 to support entrepreneurship training and microgrants for university-related startups. Eligible teams receive up to $3,000 for customer discovery to advance their ideas.

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About the Site

NSF I-Corps is a public-private partnership program that teaches university and community entrepreneurs with a targeted Lean Launchpad curriculum to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research and the innovation ecosystems surrounding our university communities.

The Invent Penn State I-Corps Site provides mini-grants, commercialization training and mentorship for up to 30 potential startup teams per year. The commercialization training sessions, offered through several boot camp programs, help inventors begin customer discovery, learn about the commercialization process, network with experienced entrepreneurs, and determine if a market exists for their innovation.

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Benefits of Participation

Selected teams will:

  • Receive an I-Corps Mini-Grant of up to $3,000, which can be used to attend industry trade shows, visit potential customers, and cover virtual customer discovery expenses including LinkedIn Premium and Zoom Pro.
  • Have the opportunity to work with a dedicated mentor who meets with the team to provide business expertise, advice on pitch development, funding strategies, and help grow a network of contacts.
  • Perform 30 structured customer interviews to gain insights into the market for the team’s innovation.
  • Have opportunities to showcase their new venture at the Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference.
  • Become eligible to apply for an I-Corps National Teams $50,000 grant award (please note: this is an alternate National Teams eligibility path for PI’s who have not previously received NSF funding).
  • Qualify for an increasing number of NSF grant awards that require NSF I-Corps training as a criterion for eligibility.
  • View eligibility criteria here.

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Learn more about the program and how you can apply today

Application Process

The Invent Penn State NSF I-Corps Site provides $3,000 mini-grants, commercialization training, and mentorship opportunities for up to 30 startup teams per year.

If you have…

Then you are ready to apply today!

 

Bootcamp Information

The commercialization training sessions, offered through I-Corps affiliated boot camp programs, help inventors begin customer discovery, learn about the commercialization process, network with experienced entrepreneurs, and determine if a market exists for their innovation. Eligible applicants for the I-Corps Site grant program must first be selected for one of the I-Corps affiliated programs or have completed one such program within the past year.

Learn more about the eligible Bootcamps.

 

I-Corps Funding Request

The $3,000 Mini-Grant is provided in the form of reimbursement to individuals. This means an individual, not a business entity, must incur covered expenses to be eligible for reimbursement. Most commonly, a team member will charge eligible expenses to a credit card and receive a receipt they can later submit for reimbursement. 

Learn more about the Reimbursement Guidelines.

 

Penn State I-Corps Teams

The top entrepreneurial Penn State teams are selected each year to participate in the NSF I-Corps program. Each team receives up to $3,000 for use to attend industry trade shows, visit potential customers, develop prototypes and cover customer discovery expenses. Selected teams come from a variety of different industries and focus on a variety of different problems.

2019 – 2020 Teams

2018 – 2019 Teams

2017 – 2018 Teams

National I-Corps Teams

The National I-Corps Teams program identifies NSF-funded researchers to receive additional support in the form of entrepreneurial education, mentoring, and $50,000 in funding to accelerate the translation of knowledge derived from fundamental research into emerging products and services that may attract subsequent third-party funding.

Learn more about the National Program.

FAQ's

Looking to learn more about the program? From information about reimbursable expenses to documentation needs, look not further than our FAQ’s to get your questions answered.

Learn more about Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s).

The Process