The University of Utah has become a National Science Foundation (NSF) 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


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 (two 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 five to eight minute technology presentation

2016-2017 Training Seminars:

During 2016-2017 program, all teams will participate in nine training sessions:


November 2 
November 16
December 7


January 11
January 25
February 8


March 8
March 22
April 12