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I-Corps at NIH Frequently Asked Questions

I-Corps at NIH brings together biotech commercialization experts to provide current Phase I SBIR/STTR companies with hands-on entrepreneurship training. Find answers to the most commonly asked questions on I-Corps at NIH and learn about the application process below. 

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • Your business has an active NIH/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program award.
  • Teams must have three members:
    • C-level corporate officer
    • Technical lead/expert
    • Industry expert with a business development background in the target industry
  • Your business received Phase I funding from one of the following NIH/CDC Institutes and Centers:
    • National Cancer Institute (NCI)
    • National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
    • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
    • National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID/CDC)
    • National Eye Institute (NEI)
    • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
    • National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
    • National Institute on Aging (NIA)
    • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
    • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
    • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
    • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
    • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
    • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
    • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
    • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
    • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
    • National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
    • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
    • National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
    • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
    • National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
    • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH/CDC)
    • Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP)

For more detailed requirements, please refer to the eligibility section in the FOA PAR-22-073.

Who would be a good industry expert?

A good industry expert is someone with the right industry contacts in your area of commercialization. She or he should be an entrepreneur familiar with your small business and experienced in bringing technologies to the marketplace. This could be someone who has an established relationship with the company, like a board member, or someone selected as a third-party resource. Ideally, the industry expert should have prior experience in the development and commercialization of other products that are in the same space as your technology.

How do we find our industry expert?

Teams can source the industry expert internally (business development manager, board member, etc.) or externally, like a consultant or mentor with the National Innovation Network. Also take advantage of your regional network through the Small Business Development Center or SCORE chapter.

Is there flexibility in how the three required roles are filled on the I-Corps team?

Yes. For example, if the Principal Investigator (PI) or Program Director (PD) listed in eRA is also the CEO, then the PD/PI can be assigned the I-Corps role of “C-Level” and you can select a different senior level scientist to serve in the PD/PI role.

Here’s an example: Sue Scientist is listed as the PD/PI in eRA on the predicate Phase I award. Sue is also the CEO of SBC, Inc. and will carry the role of C-Level on the I-Corps team. Sue recruits Robin Researcher, also of SBC, Inc., to be listed in eRA as a Co-Investigator and carry the role of PI or Technical Lead on the I-Corps team. Finally, Evan Expert, an external advisor from Serial Entrepreneur, Inc. is listed in eRA as a Consultant to carry the role of Industry Expert on the I-Corps team.

Sample I-Corps Team Roles
Senior/Key Personnel Organization Role Category in eRA I-Corps Team Role

Sue Scientist

SBC, Inc.


C-Level Executive

Robin Researcher

SBC, Inc.


Technical Lead/Expert

Evan Expert

Serial Entrepreneur, Inc.


Industry Expert

All teams should include three members and should be led by someone with decision-making authority within the company. We will not accept teams unless they meet the three-member team requirement (no more, no less).


Is I-Corps only for new companies or teams with little commercialization experience?

Not necessarily. Teams with limited commercialization experience may benefit the most, but all teams will take away valuable lessons and specific insights about their particular technology or innovation.

What is the application timeline?

Applications for Cohort 2 of the 2020 I-Corps at NIH must be received by December 15, 2021, 5:00 p.m. your local time.

  • December 15, 2021 — Application due date
  • January 5, 2022 — Phone interview week (estimated)

How do I fill out the application?

Grantees are strongly encouraged to apply via ASSIST and review a sample cover sheet. This will be an administrative supplement to the active SBIR/STTR Phase I award.

  • Type of Submission: Changed/Corrected Application
  • Type of Application: Revision, A: Increase Award

Contractors will work closely with their affiliated Office of Acquisitions in negotiating the I-Corps at NIH Option.

If we’re awarded the grant, how much funding will my business receive?

Teams that have been accepted will receive up to $55,000 in funding.

How long is the program?

The I-Corps program lasts approximately 8 weeks.

What are the 2022 I-Corps program dates?

Cohort 1

February 28, 2022 — Course kickoff through

April 18–19, 2022 — Course closing workshop/final lessons learned

What are the mandatory program activities?

All team members must attend a 3-day immersion kickoff workshop and a 2-day closing workshop. During these workshops, team members will give presentations and participate in lectures and training sessions. Team members must participate in weekly webinar sessions and must conduct at least 100 total discovery interviews with potential customers, strategic partners, and other third-party stakeholders. At the end of the program, teams will present their final lessons learned.

Will my intellectual property rights be protected when I discuss my ideas with the class?

I-Corps workshops do not require that you share the specifics of your intellectual property. However, you will be sharing with the class what you learned on a weekly basis about reimbursement, regulation, customers, partners, etc. All of your presentations, customer discovery and validation notes, and your business model canvas will be shared with the teaching team. If you have specific legal questions, you should consult an intellectual property attorney.

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