Executive Director, TEC
352 Coordinated Science Lab
1308 W. Main St.
Urbana, IL 61801
About NSF I-Corps
National Science Foundation's (NSF) Innovation Corps or I-Corps is a public-private partnership program that teaches university faculty and student entrepreneurs with a targeted curriculum to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research, and provides entrepreneurship training to participants.
The Illinois I-Corps Site is a collaboration between the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering, EnterpriseWorks at the Research Park, with participation from the Office of Technology Management, and IllinoisVentures.
I-Corps at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Faculty and students working on STEM-related technology can participate in the I-Corps program and receive up to $2,000 to participate in the customer discovery process of their innovation. The Illinois I-Corps Site offers 4 cohorts a year (2 per semester) on a rolling submission application cycle. Each team is supported with an I-Corps grant of up to $2,000 to cover travel and prototyping costs. The program consists of 3 workshops over 6 weeks, where teams work to validate the market size, value propositions, and customer segments of their innovations.
Upon completion of the program, teams are in position to apply to the National I-Corps program where they receive $50,000 dollars and participate in a rigorous 7 week program, or perphaps apply for an SBIR award.
Students are also encouraged to participate in one of the many technology entrepreneurship courses on campus that offer the I-Corps methodology, including TE 250: From Idea to Enterprise which was developed based on the I-Corps program.
Benefits of Participating in the Illinois I-Corps Program
There are many benefits from participating in the I-Corps program, including:
- Mentoring from local experts
- Validation of Market Size, Value Proposition, Customer Segment
- Engage with campus entrepreneurial ecosystem
- Seed Funding (up to $2k)
- Opportunity to be referred to the $50k NSF National I-Corps program
- NSF I-Corps curriculum based on the Lean Launchpad methodology
- Dramatically improving chance for equity free funding:
- SBIR Phase 1 ($225k)
- SBIR Phase 2 ($750K)
- SBIR Phase 2B ($500K)
How to Apply to the Illinois I-Corps Site