The University of Utah has become a National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Site.  Through this program, the NSF seeks to develop and nurture a national innovation ecosystem that builds upon fundamental research. It wants to benefit society by identifying promising research and projects with a potential to impact the greater society through commercialization.  Investigators selected for seed grants will receive support - in the form of mentoring, funding and education - to accelerate innovations that can attract subsequent third-party investment.



    • $3000 NSF Seed grant to de-risk the technology (some use limitations).  This is an NSF grant and qualifies for further NSF funding

    • An experienced industry mentor provides program oversight

    • Business Entrepreneurial education and resources provided

    • Access to additional funding for successful technologies

    • Qualify to apply for full NSF team grant


I-Corps seed grants give the project team access to capital and resources to prototype and de-risk their technology and make informed market and stakeholder based business decisions on its commercialization potential. 

Expected outcome of the I-Corps projects will be threefold:

    1. Make a clear go/no go decision regarding viability of products and services
    2. A business transition plan if a “go” decision is made
    3. A technology demonstration for potential investors/partners


Expectations from the I-Corps Grant:

Completion of the I-Corps grant is expected to contribute to one or more of the following:

    • New start-up businesses
    • Licensing
    • SBIR proposals
    • NSF Team Grant Proposals
    • A business plan suitable for review by third-party investors
    • Students prepared to be entrepreneurially competitive
    • New curriculum development or improvement in current curricula


Team: An I-Corp team will need to be established prior to proposal submission.

The I-Corps team will consist of three roles:

    1. Entrepreneurial Lead (EL);
    2. I-Corps Mentor (ICM);
    3. Principal Investigator (PI).


The Entrepreneurial Lead could be a faculty member, Resident, Post-Doctoral scholar, graduate or other student with relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation. The Entrepreneurial Lead should also be capable and have the will to support the transition of the technology, should the I-Corps project demonstrate the potential for commercial viability. The approach to develop the technology disposition will be a structured hypothesis/validation approach. The Entrepreneurial Lead will be responsible for proceeding along a content-guided path to develop, over the course of the 12-week grant, a final technology disposition plan. We will help you find an EL/team if you do not have one identified.

The I-Corps Mentor will be an experienced or emerging entrepreneur with proximity to the institution and experience in transitioning technology to commercialization. The I-Corps Mentor will be responsible for guiding the team forward and tracking progress through regular communication with the Cognizant NSF I-Corps site director. The mentor is not paid for going through the program, but could become part of the venture if all parties so desire. We will assign you a suitable Mentor.

The Principal Investigator will be responsible for overall grant management. There is no specified limit on the number of Principal Investigators (PI), but a PI is limited to one I-Corps proposal during each submission window.


Commitment to participate in the program elements and pursue online curriculum:

    1. Participate in monthly I-Corps team events (2 hour evening events)
    2. Complete a final and of grant summary
    3. Present a 10-minute “elevator pitch” of your technology at the University of Utah Translational Medicine Symposium in February 2015.
    4. Teams will track 12-week progression using the supplied Launchpad Central software
    5. Each team must commit to pursuing a formal hypothesis-validation approach to identify and mitigate gaps in knowledge in the following areas using the online curriculum:
      • Value Proposition of the proposed product or service
      • Customer/User use-case and pain point
      • Demand Creation
      • Channel Development
      • Revenue Model
      • Partnership Strategy
      • Resource Requirement
      • Regulatory considerations
      • Capital acquisition strategies


Application Qualifications:

    1. All University of Utah faculty may apply (including adjunct faculty)
    2. Technology must be assigned/assignable to the University
    3. Must be a life sciences technology (preference given to healthcare applications)


Application Process:

  1. Complete the application form on I-Corps

  2. Submit the application by email to CMI@UTAH.EDU no later than midnight on 10 October 2015.

  3. Finalists may be asked to provide a 5-8 minute technology presentation


2015-2016 Training Seminars

During 2015-2016 program, all teams will participate in nine training sessions:

     Fall 2015 session: November 4; November 18; December 2

     Winter 2016 session: January 13; January 27; February 10

     Spring 2016 session: March 9; March 23; April 6


In addition, the teams may be asked to present their "elevator pitch" during the Translational Medicine Conference 2016 (Winter 2016, to be announced)