This week, the National Science Foundation (NSF) commemorated the one-year anniversary of the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) in a celebration of I-Corps Team successes, milestones achieved, and the creation of I-Corps Nodes at institutions across the country.
The program owes its early indicators of success to the contributions of devoted partners, mentors and collaborators who have helped develop, guide and implement the training that is preparing scientists and engineers to identify product opportunities that can emerge from academic pursuits. Fundamental to the I-Corps program are the contributions made by Steve Blank, architect and author of the NSF Innovation Corps curriculum. Blank worked with NSF to modify his Lean Launch Pad curriculum to serve as the coursework for I-Corps, and in partnership with Stanford University, where Blank serves as a consulting associate professor, launched the first I-Corps course in 2011.
The first set of instructors included venture capitalists John Burke from True Ventures and Jon Feiber from Mohr Davidow Ventures, and they were joined in the second cohort by Jerry Engel from Monitor Ventures and the University of California, Berkeley, and Jim Hornthal from CMEA Capital.
I-Corps is scaling up by replicating the curriculum piloted at Stanford for two additional Nodes: the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan. As a result of the expanding partnership and ongoing support, I-Corps is anticipating expansion to additional teams engaged in the I-Corps curricula. Additionally, NSF has now announced a solicitation to recruit new Nodes into the I-Corps network.
With the support of the effort's mentors and partners, NSF anticipates I-Corps expanding from 100 teams to 200 teams in the coming year.
This public-private partnership was made possible through a collaboration of NSF with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Deshpande Foundation. For more information, see NSF's I-Corps webpage.