The NSF Innovation Corps (NSF I-CorpsTM) is a set of activities and programs that prepare scientists and engineers for extending their focus beyond the laboratory and broadens the impact of select, NSF-funded, basic-research projects. Teams of three are comprised of the previously-funded NSF grant Principal Investigator, an Entrepreneurial Lead, and an Industry Mentor.
This $50,000, 6-month grant kicks off with an intense 6-week, course using the Lean LaunchPad and the Business Model Canvas. It demands that teams “get out of the building” and undergo customer discovery to test their technology concept’s hypothesized product-market fit and commercial viability. Additionally, weekly webinars are conducted to review educational material and discuss what the teams learned in their customer interviews. At the end of the course, the teams present a 10-slide PowerPoint and a video of “Lessons Learned” in front of the national teaching team, NSF directors, venture capitalists, angel investors, and their fellow classmates.