The National Science Foundation is for second time funding the University of Central Florida -I Corps program, which in the past year has trained more than 100 teams of faculty, students and local entrepreneurs to take their ideas and discoveries from the research lab to the marketplace.
The training has led to the launch of 38 companies, which secured more than $1.5 million in funding based on the UCF research. Now, the I-Corps program is looking for its next cohort to go through the entrepreneurial experience thanks to the new NSF funding.
“Being one of the first universities in the nation to receive funding to set up an NSF I-Corps site in 2014 at UCF was a true honor,” said Thomas O’Neal, Associate Vice President for the Office of Research & Commercialization and the Executive Program Director for the UCF I-Corps Site. “The new funding is a testament to the great progress being made at UCF and Central Florida towards building a strong innovation driven sector in our economy. With the new funding we will be able to have an even bigger impact on our community.”
The purpose of the I-Corps Site is to foster innovation among faculty, students, and local entrepreneurs in order to nurture and support them as teams, which can then work together to transition their inventions into the marketplace. Once teams complete the UCF I-Corps program, the path to commercial market continues with opportunities for funding from NSF’s national I-Corps program, Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) grant funding, or from seed capital sources. Teams are also able to tap into the entrepreneurial ecosystem within UCF’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the broader community.
With the $300,000 NSF I-Corps renewal grant, UCF will develop and adapt its I-Corps program to support specialty cohorts for local industry clusters, such as Modeling, Simulation, and Training (MS&T), nanotechnology, and optics, and to develop curriculum that effectively serves the large Hispanic population at UCF and in the community. Orlando is one of the most important hubs for modeling and simulation in the nation giving start-up companies a better opportunity to succeed. UCF is also home to one of the nation’s best optics and photonics programs.
“We are looking forward to the next 100 teams that will benefit from our program and making the experience even more beneficial. We’ve been working on the program to improve the curriculum, to accommodate specialty cohorts, and to better link teams with the rich resources available in the region to help them succeed,” O’Neal said.
Applications are now open for the next I-Corps cohort, which begins in January of 2018. The cohort will be held at UCF, and is open to scientists and engineers at universities and research centers from around the state.