NC State University has operated a National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Site Program since August of 2017. The I-Corps Site Program is led by the Office of Research Commercialization (ORC) in partnership with the Poole College of Management and KIETS, and is designed to educate faculty researchers and students on entrepreneurial principles and practices and to give them a hands-on experience in exploring the real-world applications of their technologies through interviews with potential customers and end-users.
As of September 2021, 111 teams have participated in the NC State Site Program throughout thirteen separate cohorts since the launch of the program. Twenty startup companies have been formed by teams following participation in the I-Corps program and teams completing the NC State I-Corps Site Program have generated a cumulative $3.7million in follow-on funding. Teams that complete the I-Corps Site Program are eligible to apply to the National NSF I-Corps Teams Program to receive $50K in funding to conduct 100+ voice of customer interviews.
The completion of the National Teams Program also dramatically increases a startup’s chances of being awarded further NSF funding such as SBIR/STTR and funds. Having administered the I-Corps National Program for almost ten years, NSF has restructured the I-Corps landscape and is moving to a more integrated model that streamlines I-Corps delivery and also encourages greater interaction amongst regional universities by creating five nationwide Regional I-Corps “Hubs”.
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.
KIETS funding will enable the NC State program to attract and incentivize new mentors while also engaging and retaining existing mentors, which will be critical to the long-term success of NC State I-Corps teams and the Mid-Atlantic Hub as a whole. KIETS Associate Director Raj Narayan serves as an NC State ICorps ORC faculty instructor and advises the mentors and entrepreneurial leads in the NC State ICorps program.