I-Corps Northeast Hub welcomes Drexel University as new member

Sept. 13, 2022

The addition of Drexel University expands the Hub's ability to provide experiential entrepreneurial training to faculty, staff, and graduate students across all fields of science and engineering.

Drexel University has been tapped to join the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps, a network of universities focused on nurturing researchers as they translate their innovative work for commercial viability. As a partner institution of the I-Corps Hub Northeast Region led by Princeton University, Drexel will share its deep expertise in experiential learning and entrepreneurial training with faculty, staff and students throughout the region.

“We are thrilled to welcome Drexel researchers and administrators to the I-Corps community,” said Christina Pellicane, assistant director of innovation at Princeton University and the lead instructor for the I-Corps Northeast Hub. “With the combined input and expertise of Drexel and our existing Hub members, we are working to grow the economic and societal benefits of university-led discoveries.”

The I-Corps Hub Northeast Region is one of 10 I-Corps Hubs around the country. Each hub is supported by a 5-year, $15 million grant from the NSF to provide experiential entrepreneurial training to faculty, staff, and graduate students across all fields of science and engineering. I-Corps Hubs form the operational backbone of the National Innovation Network – a network of universities, researchers, local and regional entrepreneurial communities, and other federal agencies – that help researchers translate fundamental research results to the marketplace. The I-Corps Hubs work collaboratively to build and sustain a diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem throughout the U.S.

“With the addition of Drexel University to the I-Corps Hub Northeast Region, we are expanding our ability to transition life-changing and world-improving discoveries and technologies from universities to customers and industry, to ensure that the benefits of research reach those who need them most,” said Julius N. Korley, associate vice president of the Office of Economic Innovation & Partnerships at the University of Delaware and co-director of the I-Corps Hub Northeast Region. “We look forward to having Drexel as a partner in our commitment to extending opportunities to researchers from all backgrounds, including those who traditionally have been underrepresented in academic innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The I-Corps program consists of fast-paced training in the discovery of industry needs, with a goal of informing both a technology development plan and an associated venture launch strategy. The program encourages the formation of teams led by seasoned scientists new to entrepreneurship and offers a method to explore possible commercial pathways under the tutelage of skillful advisors and instructors. I-Corps provides training in an evidence-driven framework used widely in the startup community; simultaneously, the teams interact directly with industry professionals who may benefit from disruptive technological innovation based on scientific research. This two-fold approach – advanced education and firsthand engagement – enables teams to rapidly sort through possible commercialization paths to identify the most promising path forward. Since its inception in 2011, approximately 2,800 teams have participated in the program.

“Drexel University and the College of Engineering have made entrepreneurship a core part of our strategic research priorities and our inclusion in the hub for the Northeast region highlights the importance of our role in the region,” said Caroline Schauer, PhD, Margaret C. Burns chair professor and associate dean for Research Enterprise in Drexel’s College of Engineering, who will serve as the I-Corps faculty lead for Drexel. “The College of Engineering has a number of current technologies that will benefit from our inclusion as well as future research endeavors that are aligned with our strategic plan.”

Drexel brings a wealth of knowledge in experiential learning, as a pioneer of the cooperative education model, and track record of success in supporting innovators who are seeking to translate their research for the marketplace. As a Carnegie R1 research institution, the University produces an exceptionally high level of applied research and it has been nationally recognized for its intellectual property productivity. And its Drexel-Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program has supported dozens of translational research endeavors as they have progressed through trials, licensing and regulatory approval.

“I-Corps is a great opportunity for Drexel faculty, postdocs, and graduate students to explore how their innovation may be able to help solve our society’s most pressing problems and challenges. I very much look forward to working with Dr. Schauer and the I-Corps Hub Northeast Region,” said Shintaro Kaido, Drexel’s vice provost for innovation and executive director of Drexel Applied Innovation — the university’s technology transfer office — who will be Drexel’s principal investigator for the grant.

As a member of the I-Corps, Drexel will receive $600,000 over four years to provide experiential training focused on entrepreneurship to participating teams, including faculty, staff and graduate students working in science and engineering fields.  

“Drexel’s membership in the I-Corps Hub Northeast Region will help accelerate the transition of innovation from Drexel faculty and students to the marketplace and expand the impact of Drexel research. Innovation and entrepreneurial spirit are core to Drexel’s missions and the partnership with the Princeton-led I-Corp Hub supports Drexel’s strategic goals,” said Aleister Saunders, executive vice provost for research and innovation at Drexel.

Drexel faculty, staff and graduate students can learn more about the program at https://icorpsnortheasthub.org/ or by contacting Prof. Schauer (cls52@drexel.edu) or Shintaro Kaido (sk3434@drexel.edu). Current or prior NSF funding is not required to participate in I-Corps.