Developed by the National Science Foundation, the I-Corps program fosters entrepreneurship that will lead to the commercialization of technology. The site program offered through Michigan Tech will be structured around the same Lean LaunchPad teaching methods and principles used by NSF's National I-Corps Program.
Michigan Tech’s I-Corps Site is geared toward developing potential I-Corps Teams for the National I-Corps program and providing an entrepreneurial program for graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, staff, alumni and local community teams to complete together to help them achieve their business potential.
The first and most important goal of I-Corps Sites is to encourage technical entrepreneurship and teach faculty and students how to think about commercialization. Teams should have clearly defined goals and expectations for how the program can help develop and commercialize their idea.
Our I-Corps Site program provides infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training, and modest funding (awards of $1,000 – $2,500 per team) to enable teams to transition their work into the marketplace or into becoming National I-Corps Team applicants. With the support and mentorship of the Site, the teams will learn first-hand about entrepreneurship and explore the transition of their ideas, devices, processes or other intellectual activities into the marketplace.
Upon completion of the I-Corps Site Program, participants may be eligible to apply for the National I-Corps program (an intensive 6-week NSF training with the opportunity to be awarded a $50,000 grant) as well as many other funding opportunities. Non-university-based teams will need to include at least one team member based at a university for grant administration purposes.
Applications for the May 2019 Workshop are now open. Apply now.
Who is I-Corps For?
The I-Corps curriculum provides real-world, hands on, immersive learning about what it takes to successfully transfer knowledge into products and processes that benefit society. It’s not about how to write a research paper, business plan or NSF proposal. The end result is not a publication, a deck of slides or even a scientific discovery.
Instead, the entire I-Corps team will be engaged talking to industry customers and competitors and encountering the chaos and uncertainty of creating successful innovations. Getting out of the laboratory/university is what the effort is all about. This curriculum requires full participation from the entire I-Corps team. Each member must commit to in-depth preparation, attendance at the lectures, workshops and WebEx conference calls. If you cannot commit a minimum of 5 hours per week, the Michigan Tech I-Corps Site program is not for you.
I-Corps is perfect for early stage projects looking to assess a commercial opportunity. This program works equally well for university researchers that are in the process or have filed an invention disclosure, as well as SBIR/STTR Phase I awardees, or companies looking to spin-out new technologies.
Benefits of I-Corps
- An opportunity to see the real world impacts of your research and technology
- You will gain an appreciation for what it takes to commercialize technology and barriers to adoption
- Discover a market for your technology that you had not previously considered
- Your network will exponentially as you have priceless contact with teachers, investors customers and inventors
- Increased skills; you will learn the language of business and about the 9 fundamental principles of a business model
- Ability to identify increased commercial potential for your technologies
- Increased probability of grant success
- Quicker elimination of non-commercial research tracks
- Increase your visibility within your institution
- You will save years and money by accelerating your understanding
- You will help contribute to an innovation ecosystem that will change the future of the State of Michigan and the Midwest
Participants in the I-Corps Site Program will be expected to commit at least 3-5 hours per person per week to market research, customer discovery and other commercialization-focused activities. Therefore, it is important that the participants are interested in gaining new knowledge from the program, and not just receiving the I-Corps Site grant funding.
Once accepted, participants will be required to attend a kick-off event, two training sessions, mentor meetings, and a final Presentation Day where participants will show how their business ideas have developed over the course of the workshop.
Participants will also be expected to schedule at least two meetings with members of the teaching team. You can schedule a half hour slot with a specific teaching team member by clicking on their Office Hours below.
All current undergraduate and graduate students, doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers, alumni, administrative staff, and faculty are eligible to apply. It is required that participants apply to this program as a team of at least two people. We do not recommend that teams apply with more than four participants. Typically, teams consist of:
- At least one scientific or technological expert who is responsible for the team's idea ("the scientific leader")
- At least one student , alumni, or post-doctoral fellow interested in conducting entrepreneurial research and directing group efforts ("the entrepreneurial leader"). The entrepreneurial leader may or may not have prior business experience, but is committed to leading or organizing team activities during the I-Corps Site Program.
The Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship can help facilitate team formation in order to match people with different experiences onto teams. For more information on team formation, please contact Mary Raber (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Jim Baker is the Executive Director of Innovation and Commercialization, as well as the Co-director of the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship. Jim has been the co-founder of a biotechnology company and a UP-based manufacturing company as well as an adviser, director, or mentor of numerous startup companies. Specializations include intellectual property, technology licensing, corporate research, and start-up business development.
Jonathan Leinonen is a lecturer in the School of Business and Economics and also co-director of the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship. Jon has worked with numerous innovation-based companies to launch products and raise early stage capital. He specializes in agile resource provision toward strategic, collaborative benefits through direct involvement across stakeholders including universities, non-profits, government and private companies, leading various roles with them.
Lisa Casper earned her MBA from the University of Oregon. She completed her undergraduate BS studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a degree in Aeronautical Science as well as earning flight instructor and commercial aviation certificated and her multiengine and instrument ratings. She worked as a Systems Engineer supporting project management for science and engineering projects at both Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space. Most recently she worked as an Entrepreneurship Instructor and Advisor for students at Finlandia University.
Mary Raber is the Assistant Dean of Academic Programs for the Pavlis Honors College, the Director of the Global Leadership Program, and the Co-director of the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship. Mary is the co-founder of a medical device startup and specializes in engineering education research, leadership development, program management, and the process of product development.