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Propelus I-Corps

We regularly host 4-week Propelus I-Corps programs online and in-person at our partner universities. Each program is open to innovators throughout the Northeast; university affiliation is not required. Please view our Events page for upcoming dates.

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Please direct any questions about the application process to our I-Corps Managers at [email protected]

Please visit our Contact page and scroll down if you would like to get in touch with a technology transfer representative from your university before applying.

About the program

  • In the I-Corps program, scientists and engineers take the first step in assessing if their research has the feasibility to become a product or service of benefit to society.
  • Participants join the program in small teams organized around the development and commercialization of a particular discovery.
  • Teams engage in customer discovery research aimed at investigating the commercial viability and societal impact of a novel discovery or process in science, technology or engineering. 
  • The program provides grants of up to $3,000 and training to support customer discovery and technology investigation.
  • Each training program consists of 4 sessions (online) provided by instructors at our Hub institutions. 

Who should apply

  • Researchers and their colleagues who have developed a science or technology innovation at any university or college across the northeast are eligible to become entrepreneurial or technical leads.
  • Non-university teams are also eligible if they have a "deep tech" (science or engineering) innovation.
  • Teams can originate at any institution such as a university, college, medical school or hospital. Participants do not need to be from NSF I-Corps Northeast Hub member institutions. Our regional approach means we have a preference for teams who are based in the Northeast (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut).

Forming a team

The first step in applying to join I-Corps is to form a team. Teams consist of at least three roles:

  • Entrepreneurial lead
    • The entrepreneurial lead may be a graduate student, postdoctoral scholar, undergraduate student or staff member with relevant knowledge of the technology or market and a commitment to investigate the potential opportunity for commercialization.
    • The role of the entrepreneurial lead is to drive the customer discovery process and support the transition of the technology into the marketplace if it demonstrates commercial viability.
      • Additional researchers or leads are welcome.
  • Technical lead
    • The technical lead will often have been involved in creating the technology that forms the basis of the team’s business concept or possesses a high level of relevant technical expertise. The role of the technical lead is overall project management. The technical lead is often a faculty member and, if a company is formed, plays a key leadership role such as a scientific advisor or chief technical officer.
  • Mentor
    • The industry mentor will typically be an experienced entrepreneur, intrapreneur or corporate innovator who serves as a third-party resource.
    • The role of the mentor is to guide the team forward and track progress.
    • Teams do not have to identify an industry mentor prior to application, but are encouraged to do so. 
    • Mentors can also be suggested by Hub instructors when necessary. 

What you'll get

  • Training: Four sessions introducing the lean startup methodology and guiding teams through customer discovery research – customer, problem, solution and value proposition testing. 
  • Funding: Grants of up to $3,000 are given to each team and can be used to fund expenses related to customer discovery research, including solution-testing costs. 
  • Mentorship and networking: Funded teams will receive mentorship from seasoned entrepreneurs and innovators. Teams may also utilize many other programs offered by the Hub-affiliated institutions.
  • Follow-on opportunities: Upon completion, teams are eligible for the national NSF I-Corps Teams program which provides an intensive 7-week training course and a $50,000 grant.
  • Enhanced research outcomes: Other benefits include
    • attracting more innovative graduate students to your lab (for faculty)
    • finding a job in industry (for grad students), networking with peers
    • finding potential licensees for your technologies
    • many other potential beneficial outcomes. 

Selection process

  • Applications will be reviewed by the I-Corps Hub Review Committee.
  • Selections are based on project potential and team commitment.
  • Teams who pass the initial review will be invited to an interview (online) with the Review Committee.
  • Selected teams will then participate in the 4-session training program (online).

Selection criteria

Funding

  • Each team receives a $3,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant and can be used for fund expenses related to customer discovery research.
  • The use of the grant funding awarded to Northeast I-Corps Hub teams is governed by the Acceptable Expenses Policy.

Upcoming programs

Info Session: Propelus I-Corps Spring 2024
Feb 27, 2024, 10:00 am11:00 am

Learn how the Propelus I-Corps four-week regional program can help you transform your tech or research discovery into a real-world product/service as you develop your skills for innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology commercialization through experiential learning. Plus, find out how you can earn a $3,000 NSF grant.

Location
Online
2024 Cleantech Open Northeast Princeton University Lunch & Learn
Mar 7, 2024, 1:30 pm3:00 pm

Learn how the accelerator program can help you develop your cleantech venture and how to apply to the accelerator. We welcome entrepreneurs, students, investors, savvy technologists, and those interested in joining our growing cleantech community.

Location
Andlinger Center, Maeder Hall, Room 103
Innovating Together with State Economic Development Authorities
Mar 20, 2024, 3:00 pm4:00 pm

Learn about how NSF I-Corps works with State Economic Development Authorities in NJ, PA, DE, & CT connecting programs, resources, and funding to support economic development though tech commercialization and building up the innovation ecosystem in their respective states.

Location
Online
Propelus I-Corps at University of Connecticut
  • Mar 22, 2024, 9:30 am3:30 pm
  • Mar 28, 2024, 3:00 pm6:00 pm
  • Apr 4, 2024, 3:00 pm6:00 pm
  • Apr 11, 2024, 3:00 pm6:00 pm

Apply by Feb. 26

Our four-session Propelus program helps researchers explore the customer perspective to inform how a discovery or innovation can become the basis of a successful startup or venture.

Propelus I-Corps at Princeton, Mar-Apr 2024
  • Mar 25, 2024, 4:00 pm7:00 pm
  • Mar 27, 2024, 4:00 pm7:00 pm
  • Apr 3, 2024, 4:00 pm7:00 pm
  • Apr 17, 2024, 4:00 pm7:00 pm

Apply by March 4, 2024.

Our four-session Propelus program helps researchers explore the customer perspective to inform how a discovery or innovation can become the basis of a successful startup or venture.

Location
Princeton Entrepreneurial Hub, 34 Chambers St, Princeton, NJ 08542 and online
Propelus I-Corps, April 2024
  • Apr 2, 2024, 9:30 am12:30 pm
  • Apr 5, 2024, 9:30 am12:30 pm
  • Apr 12, 2024, 9:30 am12:30 pm
  • Apr 26, 2024, 9:30 am12:30 pm

Apply by March 12, 2024

Our four-session Propelus program helps researchers explore the customer perspective to inform how a discovery or innovation can become the basis of a successful startup or venture.

Location
Online
Novus at Rutgers-Newark
Apr 10, 2024, 12:00 pm4:00 pm

Networking Lunch will be provided, so please RSVP by Monday, April 5, 2023.

Learn about the impact your research or innovation could have in solving real-world problems by attending our Novus I-Corps Program at Rutgers-Newark, a half-day introduction to I-Corps.

Location
Paul Robeson Campus Center - Rutgers-Newark Campus, Bergen Room | 350 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, Newark, NJ 07102
Novus at NJIT
Apr 12, 2024, 11:30 am3:30 pm

Learn about the impact your research or innovation could have in solving real-world problems by attending our Novus I-Corps Program at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), a half-day introduction to I-Corps, followed by optional self-paced coursework.

Location
NJIT Martin Tuchman School of Management - 3rd Floor Leir Conference Room MTSM 184-198 Central Ave Newark, NJ 07103