NSF and NIH I-Corps elevate innovators

By Todd Strother, Ph.D., Center for Technology Commercialization

We often talk about and recommend that our clients get involved in the I-Corp programs that some federal agencies have. The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are the common ones our clients tend to gravitate to; where they can articulate their critical business hypotheses and then collect real data to validate or invalidate those ideas. We at the CTC are advocates of these “Lean Startup” activities and we provide programing that are based on the Federal I-Corp initiatives.

NSF started their program around 10 years ago which has various levels of participation and activities. In addition to the vigorous national level program are programs at the regional “nodes” and shorter programs at the more localized “sites.”

A focus of the national NSF program is on academic researchers who are considering commercializing a technology that results from their academic work. Historically, this national program has been open only to academic labs and the I-Corp grant funding ($50,000) would go to the professor’s lab to essentially fund the business model validation activities. A requirement to participate in the national program is that the professor has had previous NSF funded research or a previous NSF ‘pedigree.’ Read more …