I-Corps at UCF is Officially Here!

0001306UCF is excited to begin the Fall 2014 semester as an I-Corp site! The university has partnered with the National Science foundation (NSF) to create Florida’s first link to one of the agency’s hottest new funding and innovation strategies, NSF’s I-Corps program.

For those of you wanting to know a little more about the program:

The NSF Innovation Corps, or I-Corps, is the agency’s signature effort to push scientists and engineers outside of their laboratories and into the marketplace where they can learn first-hand what is required to make products that consumers want. The primary goal of NSF I-Corps is to foster entrepreneurship that will lead to the commercialization of technology that has been supported previously by NSF-funded research.

UCF is one of 15 universities nationwide that is leading an I-Corps site. NSF has also established five regional I-Corps centers, or nodes, located in such innovation hotspots as Washington DC, New York City, Michigan, San Francisco and Massachusetts.

How the program works:

UCF has received $300,000 in NSF I-Corps funding and will use it to reach even more potential inventors and innovators. The goal of the program is to recruit and train 96 entrepreneurial teams that could result in 96 new companies in three years. The new program will offer up to $3,000 to 32 teams annually to be used as early development seed money to turn their entrepreneurial ideas into potentially viable companies. Development of prototypes, customer research and travel to meetings with potential customers would all be acceptable expenses, said Ivan Garibay, researcher at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and I-Corps Site Program Director.

Teams will consist of an entrepreneurial lead (who could be a student), an industry mentor, and an academic lead (typically a faculty member).

By utilizing a group of experienced advisors to mentor and coach the selected teams, the NSF is counting on cultivating more qualified applicants for larger funding awards, such as the $50,000 offered by the NSF I-Corps Teams program, and up to $1.4M in awards from the NSF SBIR program.

The I-Corps program, which will be housed at UCF’s newly established Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) , is developing a new generation of entrepreneurs and increasing the economic impact of fundamental research by combining a method for company creation that has proven successful in Silicon Valley with hands-on coaching and feedback from consumers.

A selected group of teams will be participating in a fall pilot program called the Lean LaunchPad Bootcamp. UCF students and faculty, who are interested in participating in the bootcamp can submit an application found on the website: icorps.cie.ucf.edu.

The CIE is the collective home for UCF’s existing entrepreneurship programs and will be an integral part of both the identification of potential team members and the follow-up mentoring and coaching activities. A specific goal of UCF’s I-Corps program is to increase the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities involved in starting companies.

Did you know that UCF has already been established as the center of an entrepreneurial ecosystem? This program will only augment its efforts to promote innovation and entrepreneurship not only through all of Central Florida, but throughout the entire state!

“We are going to be teaching people how to be entrepreneurs,” said Tom O’Neal, associate vice president for the Office of Research & Commercialization and I-Corps Site Executive Program Director. “Our strategy is to increase the number of successful spin-out companies based on research and innovation.”

View the full announcement of the I-Corps program at UCF here.

For more information about UCF I-Corps, please contact us.