I-Corps Site Programs

I-Corps Site Program.

Transition your technology from the lab to the marketplace.

The University at Buffalo participates as a site for both the NSF I-Corps and the I-Corps @ NCATS supported by NIH. Both programs are comprised of a short course, which combines business model training with a customer discovery process. The short course helps prepare teams to apply to go on to a national program at NSF or NIH, and are designed to help all participants, regardless of the stage of development of their innovation. While the principals of both programs are generally the same, each has some unique eligibility, requirements and goals.  

These programs are perfect for:

  • Early-stage projects looking to assess a commercial opportunity
  • University researchers that are in the process of or have filed an invention disclosure
  • SBIR/STTR Phase I awardees
  • Companies looking to commercialize new technologies

I-Corps @ NCATS

The I-Corps @ National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) program is a
5-week short course, based upon the successful 
NSF I-Corps and I-Corps at NIH entrepreneurial training program, which combines business model training with a customer discovery process.  

UB is collaborating with the University of Alabama, an I-Corps @ NCATS Mentor Node, on a Regional Course. Through this course researchers will learn how to explore product-market fit, talk to customers, gain insight from experienced business leaders and build a business case for translation of your science.

Upcoming Cohort Schedule:

All sessions will be virtual through Zoom

Orientation: April 15, 12-4 PM EST
Kickoff: April 22, 12-4PM EST 
Office Hours: Scheduled with each team
Midpoint: May 6, 12-4 PM EST 
Office Hours: Scheduled with each team
Finale: May 20, 12-4PM EST 

An important goal of the program is to improve the health of our communities by speeding up the process of moving new discoveries from our research labs into new treatments and cures for patients. This is accomplished by helping academic researchers better understand the process for how to bring a new innovation to market and how to accelerate the process while reducing the risk that an innovation will fail.

This cohort will be led by national I-Corps trainer, Julie Collins, and supported by members of the UB Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships and UB Center for Translational Science Institute teams.   

Julie Collins.

Julie Collins, MS

National Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Instructor |  National Science Foundation

Julie is a leading player in the field of entrepreneurial coaching, an expert in non-dilutive funding for small businesses, and faculty member for the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program. As an NSF I-Corps Faculty member she has participated on more than 20+ NSF National cohorts across the country and instructed  500+ companies or early stage projects. 

Benefits & Objectives

  • Determine the commercial viability of your innovation
  • Define the potential market and customers
  • Develop a successful business case for securing funding 
  • Expand your network of innovation partners, mentors, and potential collaborators
  • Create a pathway to transition into a real world application
  • Develop a new way of thinking about your research

Eligibility & Requirements

  • UB faculty member
  • UB student or group working with a UB faculty member
  • Group closely affiliated with a UB organization or program
  • Teams of staff, clinician, faculty, nurses and/or or students with biomedical innovations or ideas 

I-Corps @NCATS is ideal for a technology or idea in the Life Sciences such as therapeutics, biologics, diagnostics, devices, Health IT/Services. 

Team Composition & Committment

  • 2+ team members - consisting of an Entrepreneurial Lead (undergrad, grad, Ph.D. student who will move the project forward) and a Technical Lead (typically be a faculty member, senior research scientist or postdoctoral scholar with deep and direct technical expertise in the actual core technology about which the I-Corps team is exploring commercial potential)
  • Must be able to attend all workshop dates and attend office hours 
  • Have a tech innovation in any STEM-BioMed field and want to explore its commercialization potential
  • Willing to find and talk to at least 30 potential customers in five weeks
  • Interest in applying for the Nationals I-Corps Teams program and $50,000 grant

NSF I-Corps

The NSF I-Corps Program is an initiative developed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that teaches researchers and innovators how to evaluate a technology or idea for the marketplace. An important goal of the I-Corps program is to encourage technical entrepreneurship and teach teams how to think about commercialization.

UB is collaborating with the UNY I-Corps Node on a Regional Course.  Through this course participants  learn how to “get out of the lab” and talk to potential customers. The goal is to determine if they are solving a real-world problem with a sizeable market opportunity.

Upcoming Cohort Schedule:

Check back for more information on future cohorts or regional course options with our partner UNY I-Corps Node.

Benefits & Objectives

  • Broadening your network
  • Discovering a market not previously considered
  • Increasing the probability of grant success 
  • Commercialize idea or pivot
  • Launch a startup business 
  • Gain a licensing agreement
  • Prepare for the NSF’s National I-Corps Program

Most of all, you will walk away with knowledge of how to assess the commercial viability of any new technical advancement.

Eligibility & Requirements

  • UB faculty member
  • UB student or group working with a UB faculty member
  • Group closely affiliated with a UB organization or program
  • Staff, clinician, faculty or student of an Innovation Hub Partner Institution

NSF I-Corps Program is ideal for a technology or idea in alignment with what the NSF typically funds as part of its mission, however is open to all technology areas.

Team Composition & Committment

It is strongly encouraged that participants apply to this program as a team of at least two people and no more than three. A typical team consists of at least one scientific or technological expert (scientific leader) who is responsible for the team's idea and at least one student, alumni, staff or post-doctoral fellow interested in conducting entrepreneurial research and directing group efforts.  The entrepreneurial leader does not need to have business experience, but is committed to leading or organizing team activities during the I-Corps Site. 

Teams may not split attendance between members. The Team Lead is required to attend and participate fully in every course session.

Please visit the UNY I-Corps Node for more details on how the program works and to apply. 

Our Success

The program has been a tremendous success giving technical experts a valuable and entirely different professional experience on their path to commercialize their technological triumphs.

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6+ New Companies have been formed

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Millions of dollars in prizes and grants awarded to companies

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15 teams awarded more than $1.1M in Buffalo Accelerator Fund grants

that will help commercialize their technologies (tasks largely informed by I-Corps customer engagements)

For Additional Information about UB I-Corps Programs:

Contact the Program Director, Martin Casstevens at 716-645-8133 or mkc@buffalo.edu

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