NSF I-Corps short course to provide entrepreneurship training for researchers

Invent Penn State
March 11, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Academic researchers interested in exploring the commercial potential of their technological innovations are invited to apply for a National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) short course to be held in State College from April 5-19. Applications are due by 5 p.m. EST on Friday, March 29.

Participants in this free, two-week course will receive entrepreneurship training and mentor support as they “get out of the lab” and talk with customers to identify the best product-market fit.

Faculty, staff, postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate student researchers may apply with a team of one to three people. Up to 10 teams will be selected. Applicants are expected to be available for all short-course sessions.

Teams that successfully complete this I-Corps short course can receive a $3,000 travel grant from the Invent Penn State NSF I-Corps Site program to continue their customer discovery and also become eligible to apply for the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps Teams program, which includes a $50,000 grant.

How it works:

— The course begins with an in-person, Friday/Saturday kickoff workshop where teams learn how to use the Business Model Canvas, a hypothesis-testing methodology and customer discovery interviews to explore if there’s a viable market fit for their product idea.

— Over a two-week period, teams go out and talk to potential customers about their needs, with the goal of completing 30 interviews.

— Each week, teams attend a one-hour video check-in to share progress updates and get coaching from the instructors.

— The short course ends with an in-person closing workshop where teams present their findings, get more coaching, and learn about next steps with NSF I-Corps and other Penn State entrepreneurship programs.

Who should apply?

Faculty, staff, postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate student researchers from any Penn State campus who:

— Have a tech innovation in any STEM field and want to explore its commercialization potential.

— Are willing to find and talk to 30 potential customers in two weeks.

— Are looking for $3,000 in travel funds to meet with prospective customers.

— May want to apply for the NSF I-Corps Teams national program and $50,000 grant.

— Wish to have NSF lineage conferred on their research lines and to become eligible for other NSF entrepreneurship-related grants.

— Have one to three team members who can participate in the short course dates as follows:

  • Friday, April 5 (4 to 8 p.m.) – Session 1 (In-person)
  • Saturday, April 6 (8 a.m. to noon) – Session 2 (In-person)
  • Wednesday, April 10 (2 to 3 p.m.) – Session 3 (Online)
  • Wednesday, April 17 (2 to 3 p.m.) – Session 4 (Online)
  • Friday, April 19 (noon to 4 p.m.) – Session 5 (In-person)


In-person sessions will be held at the Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, located at 224 S. Allen St. in State College.

The NSF I-Corps Short Course @ Penn State is hosted by the Office of the Vice President for ResearchInvent Penn State and the Penn State NSF I-Corps Site. The short course is being led by the Upstate New York I-Corps Node — one of eight NSF-funded Innovation Corps Nodes designed to support regional needs for innovation education, infrastructure and research. NSF I-Corps Nodes work cooperatively to build, utilize and sustain a national innovation ecosystem that further enhances the development of technologies, products and processes that benefit society.

Last Updated March 14, 2019