NC State NSF I CORPS HUB Program

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    Led by the Office of Research Commercialization (ORC) NC State University, in partnership with nine other leading research universities, has been selected by the National Science Foundation to be one of the five national I-Corps Hubs, a $15 million, five-year award. NC State will receive $2M over five years and will serve as one of three partner organizations in the Hub, leading efforts to attract, train, and match industry mentors with I-Corps teams from all universities in the Mid-Atlantic Hub. January 2022 was the official launch of the $15M NSF Mid Atlantic I-Corps Hub in January 2022.

    NC State’s ORC led the creation and development of a series of over 20 new I-Corps curriculum videos for use throughout the entire Mid-Atlantic Hub in each universities’ regional teaching. This effort was an incredible success and two of the five national NSF I-Corps Hub (the Mid-Atlantic led by Maryland, and the Northeast Hub* led by Princeton) adopted the videos for use in their programming as well. ORC also led the university-wide adoption of the software platform Protopia in 2021, which provides ways for students, faculty, and others in the campus community to connect with alumni who might be able to assist them, give advice, and provide mentorship. ORC uses this platform to match I-Corps mentors with teams and to provide access to candidates for customer discovery interviews as part of the I-Corps program.

    In addition to the launch of Protopia, ORC is also finalizing a new mentorship network ORCA that will benefit the NC State I-Corps Program and the larger Hub. Under this new model, interested mentors can engage with ORC and NC State startups and research teams through a tiered model. This new network will launch in June 2022 and key stakeholders will be engaged to develop a new I-Corps mentor training program for new mentors entering the Hub. Six new NC State startups were launched in FY 2021-22 and completed the NC State I-Corps Program: Grade-It, Washington’s Hammer, Teen Health Research, Quantryd, Netlocal Games, and Watson Nano.

    ORC reported that 17 faculty members participated in NC State I-Corps in this reporting period. NC State faculty Reza Ghiladi and Frank Scholle of startup Photocide Protection also participated as the case study for the Hub curriculum videos. Also, 6 undergraduates, 14 graduate students, and 2 post docs participated in the ICorps Program in fiscal year 2021-22.  Two I-Corps projects were selected for the Summer 2022 National I-Corps cohort. KIETS Associate Director Raj Narayan serves as an NC State I-Corps ORC faculty instructor and advises the mentors and entrepreneurial leads in the NC State ICorps program.