Maui Business

New I-Corp Program to “Accelerate” US Innovation

August 1, 2011, 6:22 PM HST
* Updated August 2, 9:54 AM
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Photo courtesy of NSF.

By Sonia Isotov

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced the creation of the Innovation Corp. or I-Corp program whose focus is to help strengthen the nation’s innovation ecosystem.

Key cornerstones of the program will be the use of a public-private partnership and mentor volunteers. The I-Corps initiative will strategically identify nascent concepts and leverage NSF’s investment in basic research for technology innovation.

Members of the private sector will provide critical support to this NSF effort by sharing their knowledge and experience with NSF and I-Corps awardees. These technology developers, business leaders, venture capitalists, and others from private industry will act as I-Corps mentors. The I-Corps mentor volunteers will be critical nodes to the network of expertise that will enhance the I-Corps awardees’ ability to transform their scientific and engineering results into potentially successful technologies.

In turn, each I-Corps team, composed of the principal investigator, a mentor and an entrepreneurial lead, will systematically identify and address knowledge gaps to ascertain a technology, i.e. What resources will be required? What are the competing technologies? What value will this innovation add?


The NSF, the Deshpande Foundation, and the Kauffman Foundation are founding members of the I-Corps public/private partnership, along with a national network of advisors and partnering institutions.


“The United States has a long history of investing in–and deploying–technological advances derived from a foundation of basic research,” says NSF Director Subra Suresh, in a written statement. “I-Corps will help strengthen a national innovation ecosystem that firmly unites industry with scientific discoveries for the benefit of society.”

“The Deshpande Foundation is pleased to be part of the NSF effort to bring innovators, mentors and entrepreneurs together in a meaningful way to create economic and social impact,” said Desh Deshpande, Trustee, Deshpande Foundation.

The I-Corps program will also pilot a new NSF merit review processes where NSF-funded research projects will be identified quickly and efficiently for financial support as well as for mentorship through the national network.


The NSF expects to initially support up to 100 projects per year, at $50,000 a project, with I-Corp.

For more information on the I-Corps program can be found at

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