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I-Corps at NIH

The I-Corps™ at NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) share a common interest in promoting the societal benefits of Federally funded research through the commercialization of new products and services. In advancing this goal, these two agencies have collaborated to develop the NIH Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) Team Training Pilot Program. This new program seeks to accelerate the development and commercialization of new products and services arising from projects supported by currently funded NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards. In particular, the I-Corps™ program is designed to support training that will help project teams at NIH-funded small businesses overcome key obstacles along the path of innovation and commercialization.

The I-Corps™ at NIH pilot program is modeled after the successful NSF I-Corps™ program and will be leveraged for the first time to support biomedical innovation and translation, with the goal of accelerating the development of new and emerging technologies for the detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

Curriculum for the I-Corps™ at NIH:

  • Is a nine-week training program.
  • Introduces the concept of a “Business Model Canvas,” which provides the framework for pursing a hypothesis-driven validation approach to customer discovery.
  • Is taught by experienced, business-savvy instructors who work closely with project teams to help them explore potential markets for their Federally funded innovations. Instructors teaching this pilot program are selected based on their specific domain expertise in the major product areas that comprise the biomedical industry.

Grant Supplement Awards

The NCI SBIR Development Center is leading the I-Corps™ at NIH pilot program in collaboration with three other NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs):

The selected I-Corps™ at NIH project teams will receive funding through grant supplement awards to support entrepreneurial training, mentorship, and collaboration opportunities that will assist them in translating their research ideas into viable products. The pilot cohort is expected to complete their training in the fall of 2014.

Participation Requirements

To participate in the I-Corps™ at NIH pilot program, eligible SBIR/STTR grantees are required to assemble three-member teams that will work collaboratively to complete the activities and assignments required by the I-Corps™ training curriculum. These team members include:

  1. C-Level Corporate Officer: A high-level company executive with decision-making authority;
  2. Industry Expert: An individual with a prior business development background in the target industry; and
  3. Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI): The assigned PD/PI on the SBIR/STTR Phase I award.

At the beginning of the training program, the I-Corps™ project teams are required to attend an intensive, three-day “Entrepreneurial Immersion” course together. Project teams then participate in a nine-week (estimated) I-Corps™ training curriculum administered via online instruction. At the end of the course, each team must attend a two-day report-out session. It is anticipated that benefits for the participating I-Corps™ teams will include enhanced understanding and validation of the key components of the Business Model Canvas, significantly refined commercialization plans, and well-informed “pivots” in the overall commercialization strategy. Please re-visit this page for updates regarding course and curriculum information.

For More Information

For questions regarding the program, please contact the appropriate NIH I-Corps™ representative:

NCI Christie Canaria
NHLBI Jennifer Shieh
NINDS Stephanie Fertig
NCATS Lili Portilla