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Assessing the Commercial Viability
of Innovative Technologies




The NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) is a suite of activities and programs that aim to:

  • Accelerate the transition ideas to the marketplace.
  • Encourage collaboration between academia and industry.
  • Train students to understand innovation and entrepreneurship.

I-Corps is a public-private partnership program that teaches grantees to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research, and offers entrepreneurship training to student participants. There are 3 components of the I-Corps program that work together to grow and sustain the national innovation ecosystem.

I-Corps Nodes support regional needs for innovation education, infrastructure and research.

I-Corps Sites nurture and support teams in academic institutions to transition their technology concepts into the marketplace.

I-Corps Teams participate in the seven-week curriculum to learn what it takes to achieve commercial impact of their innovation.

I-Corps Site Process


1.   Team composed of three members submits an application:

  • Entrepreneurial Lead will be postdoctoral scholar, graduate or undergraduate student with relevant knowledge of the technology and deep commitment to investigating the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation.
  • Academic Lead  will be a faculty member or senior research scientist with a deep understanding of the core technology.
  • Business Mentor will be an experienced or emerging entrepreneur with experience in transitioning technology out of academic labs.


2.   Selection committee chooses up to 15 applicants per cohort based on:

  • Team and Commitment
  • Intellectual Property Strength
  • Technology Strength
  • Commercial Potential/Applications


3.   Team completes the program focused on Lean LaunchPad methodology:

  • Business Models
  • Value Proposition
  • Customers/Users/Payers
  • Distribution Channels
  • Customer Relationships
  • Revenue Streams
  • Cost Structure
  • Key Partners and Resources


4. Team makes a go/no-go decision on pursuing commercialization.

Program Benefits



  • Seed funding up to $3000 per team for prototyping, travel and other business expenses
  • Education workshops on Lean LaunchPad methodology and customer discovery
  • Mentoring via USC I-Corps Site’s entrepreneurial network
  • Collaboration and networking opportunities with other scientists and entrepreneurs
  • Designation as an NSF-funded project leading to follow-up funding through I-Corps program

Use of Funds


I-Corps awards can be used to support various entrepreneurial activities including:

  • Materials and supplies used to develop prototypes or equipment
  • Travel to meetings, conferences, trade shows and workshops for the purpose of customer discovery or market research
  • Educational materials or programs related to technology commercialization and entrepreneurship



Application Deadline: March 25, 2019

Kick-off customer discovery session: March 29, 2019, 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

Business model development workshop: April 12, 2018, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

Lessons learned and final pitch: April 26, 2018, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.



Director and PI







Apply Today

USC ICORPS Application

Team Status Yes Need Help
Enterpreneurial Lead in Place YesNeed Help
Academic Lead in Place YesNeed Help
Business Mentor in Place YesNeed Help


  • The I-Corps Program at USC has wrapped up its Winter 2018 cohort consisting of twelve innovative teams from Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Geography, Mechanical Engineering, School of Business, and Physics. We are accepting applications for the Summer 2018 Session.  ...

  • Taking initiative and starting something new is what entrepreneurs do best. In the University of South Carolina’s case, getting named the first Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Site in the state with a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) is just one way the university stays ahead in educating students. Not only does the university have the only...

  • On the heels of a multi-million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation, USC has also been named an NSF Innovation Corp site. The initiative, the first of its kind in South Carolina, is geared toward connecting researchers with entrepreneurs and investors. According to the school, it includes a $500,000 grant from the NSF to "stimulate" students' work....