UCF Member of NSF’s National Innovation Network

UCF Awarded NSF I-Corps Site Grant

I-Corps program executive committee: Ivan Garibay, Cameron Ford, Tom O’Neal, Pallavoor “Vaidy” Vaidyanathan and Oscar Rodriguez. Not pictured, Timothy Kotnour and Michael O’Donnell.

I-Corps program executive committee: Ivan Garibay, Cameron Ford, Tom O’Neal, Pallavoor “Vaidy” Vaidyanathan and Oscar Rodriguez. Not pictured, Timothy Kotnour and Michael O’Donnell.

(ORLANDO, Fla) – UCF 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.

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.

“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.”

UCF has one of the nation’s best innovation and entrepreneurial networks and the $300,000 NSF I-Corps funding will enable it to reach even more potential inventors and innovators, with a goal of recruiting and training 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).

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

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.

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


About the UCF CIE:
The University of Central Florida Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (UCF CIE) is a university wide program consolidating and coordinating major innovation and entrepreneurship support activities with the objectives of: Education, Research and Outreach. Its goal is to leverage university and regional partnerships to create an effective entrepreneurial support infrastructure in the Central Florida Region, with a mission to promote innovation, wealth creation, and economic vitality. The UCF CIE programs include: Blackstone Launchpad, Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Florida Small Business Development Center at UCF, GrowFL, UCF Business Incubation Program, UCF Office of Technology Transfer, and the UCF Venture Accelerator     Connect at cie.ucf.edu