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NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program
NYS Capital Region I-Corp Site Program
New York's Capital Region I-Corps Site program is for undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff from capital region colleges and universities. Teams start with research-based concepts and use interviews with potential customers and the business model canvas to understand the potential of launching a startup. Site team ideas or projects can originate from student work, research (funded or unfunded), institutional, or industrial projects. The topical focus of a project can be (but not limited to) medical devices, mobile applications, software, physical products, internet of things, social startups, hardware, wearables, etc. We provide infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training and modest funding (up to $3,000 per team) to enable groups to transition their work into the marketplace or into becoming I-Corps Team applicants.
Upon completion of the I-Corps Site program, participants are eligible to apply for the NSF I Corps Team program (an intensive 6-week NSF training with the opportunity to be awarded a $50,000 grant) as well as many other funding opportunities.
This is a real-world, experiential learning program. All participants are expected to commit to at least 3-5 hours per person per week to engage in customer discovery or market research.
Teams will be required to attend their cohort's orientation session, multiple in person training sessions on entrepreneurship, meetings with their mentor, a mid-program check-in conference call as was well as a final presentation session where participants will show how their business ideas have developed over the course of the semester.
By the end of the program, your team can expect to accomplish some of the following:
- Go or no-go decision on launching your startup
- Started research on competing patents and publications
- Found general data on the size of your technology’s market and any key market trends
- Analyzed several competitive products
- Interviewed potential customers or end users
- Completed a standard business model canvas
- Learned about potential sources of early-stage commercialization funding
- Decided whether or not to pursue commercialization of your technology or idea
- Completed much of the research you need to apply for a commercialization-focused grant
For specific dates and times, please consult the Program Calendar section.
While individuals can apply, preference will be given to teams that balance technical and entrepreneurial competencies. The ideal team will include three components: Academic Lead, Entrepreneurial Lead, and Mentor. Preference will be given to teams with strong ties to a college or university in the Capital District. Don’t worry, if you don’t have a full team identified--apply anyway and we can help.
The Academic lead will preferably have an academic appointment that would normally qualify the AL to submit proposals to NSF. The AL can also be Post-Doctoral scholar, professional staff, or alum provided that person has a deep understanding of the technology that serves as the focus of the project.
The Entrepreneurial Lead is a Post-Doctoral scholar, a student, professional staff, or alum with relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation.
The Mentor will typically be experienced with transitioning research out of the lab or more general experience as an entrepreneur. They do not need to have technical expertise in your field of focus. Nor does a mentor have to have an existing relationship with your team.
If you do not have a mentor identified, the NYS Capital Region I-Corps Site team will identify one for you.
Eligibility and Guidelines
All current New York State Capital Region undergraduate and graduate students, doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers, recent alumni, administrative staff, and faculty are eligible to apply as the Entrepreneurial Lead (EL).
Proposed business technical ventures should be in either the idea, development, or startup stages and have a scalable impact. Startups can be in a wide variety of topics including (but not limited to) medical devices, mobile applications, software, physical products, internet of things, social startups, hardware, wearables, etc.
Accepted teams must commit to attending their cohort’s orientation, multiple training sessions, meetings with their mentor, a mid-program check-in conference call, and the final presentation day. Failure to complete these elements of the program may be grounds for disqualification from the New York State Capital Region NSF I-Corps Site program and forfeiture and/or repayment of any grant awards associated with the program.
Guidelines for Submissions
- All application materials must be submitted via this submission portal (for all schools).
- Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Space is limited.
- The application will require the resume/CV of all team members.
- Upon acceptance to the program an itemized financial plan for the funds is required.
- Applicants may only apply ONCE per Cohort. Applicants may only be on ONE team per cohort.
- Teams must spend their Grant Awards in the Spending Windows specified by each Cohort. Teams must determine the dates they plan to spend the Grant Award and apply to the corresponding Cohort. Acceptance may be deferred to a later Cohort if the Selection Committee determines the spending outlined in the Itemized Financial Plan falls in a different Cohort’s Spending Window.
Participants will be selected on the basis of team, intellectual property/technology strength, and fit with the I-Corps Program mission.
Upon acceptance to the program an itemized financial plan for the awarded funds is required.
Types of acceptable expenses are:
Materials and Supplies - Materials and supplies used to create a prototype (for product) or pilot program (for services)
Meetings and Conferences - Cost of admission as well as ancillary costs (i.e., transportation, meals, speaker’s fees, etc.)
- Conferences related to your product/service’s industry
- Meetings hosted by the team for the purpose of customer discovery or market research
Travel Costs - Costs related to travel, accommodations, and meals while traveling
Contractors - Contracted work will be considered if the proposed work is to be completed by 1) a student of a participating College or University; or 2) a firm that meets RPI’s contractor guidelines