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NSF promotes inclusion in tech entrepreneurship through eight I-Corps™ Sites

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NSF I-Corps sites encourage a culture of inclusion.

January 25, 2017

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded eight NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) sites to increase participation and promote inclusion of underrepresented populations in the National Innovation Network. I-Corps sites provide infrastructure, resources, networking and training to move scientific discoveries from university labs to the marketplace.

The selected I-Corps sites will use the $30,000 supplemental awards to pilot novel approaches and partnerships that promote inclusive entrepreneurship through I-Corps. The pilot activities will engage differently-abled individuals, first-generation college students, racial and ethnic minorities and women, as well as Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs).

Learn more about the eight I-Corps site pilots in inclusive tech entrepreneurship:

Bringing the Atlanta University Center into the National Innovation Network
A Howard University-led team will extend the core objectives of the Howard–Hampton University I-Corps site to the Atlanta University Center (AUC) consortium: Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse School of Medicine. The team will introduce AUC faculty to the I-Corps curriculum and the Lean Launchpad methodology and encourage entrepreneurship activities through institutional capacity-building, faculty development and ecosystem mapping.

Partnerships that engage HBCUs and community colleges in Louisiana
Louisiana State University will collaborate with three Historically Black Colleges and Universities -- Xavier University in New Orleans, Southern University in Baton Rouge and Baton Rouge Community College -- to offer an I-Corps short course at each partner institution and bring them into the I-Corps national innovation network. These new partners will help promote a sustainable pipeline of teams and entrepreneurs from underrepresented populations into tech entrepreneurship.

Supporting the aspirations of STEM entrepreneurs who are differently abled
A team at Rochester Institute of Technology aims to increase opportunities available to deaf and hard-of-hearing college students who are aspiring STEM entrepreneurs. Through a national network of universities with high concentrations of deaf students, RIT will recruit new instructors and coaches and extend I-Corps training. They will also create curricula on the use of technologies that will enable people who are hard of hearing to participate in online entrepreneurship coaching. The team will partner with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), the National Association of the Deaf and the Association of Higher Education and Disability. 

Partnering with international organizations to promote biotech entrepreneurship
The San Diego State University team will host a 2½-day biotech entrepreneurship workshop in conjunction with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) International Convention. The workshop is designed for underrepresented academic researchers in the life sciences who are early in their scientific careers. To help recruit participants, the SDSU team will partner with the American Society of Microbiology, which organizes the Annual Biomedical Research Conference of Minority Scientists (ABRCMS), and the UNCF, which has strong ties with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Building tools and networks that are inclusive of Hispanic STEM Entrepreneurs
A team at the University of Central Florida will provide a six-week I-Corps course for Hispanic innovators and will train a mentor network that consists of Hispanic technologists, executives and investment professionals. This I-Corps site will partner with the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund, the leading Hispanic economic development nonprofit organization in Florida. The team also will create Spanish-language versions of instructional videos that will become resources for the I-Corps national innovation network. 

Inspiring women to incorporate innovation into research and commercialization 
The University of Chicago team will offer an inspirational one-day conference to empower female STEM researchers and trainees to apply innovation to their work. The team will develop unique new curricula to train researchers on incorporating innovation into research proposals and commercialization. The team will collaborate with National Labs and the Marine Biological Laboratory, who are valuable additions to the I-Corps national innovation network.

Raising awareness of first-generation issues around entrepreneurship
A team at the University of New Hampshire will expose first-generation college students to entrepreneurial thinking and doing through gamification techniques to increase their participation in the local I-Corps site. The site also will partner with University of Massachusetts Lowell to host a one-day pre-conference workshop in connection with the annual Deshpande Symposium for Innovation in Entrepreneurship in Higher Education. The annual First Gen conference will raise awareness of first-generation issues around entrepreneurship, and their first-generation speaker series will offer a platform for peer mentoring.

Incorporating I-Corps into Nursing 
A team at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee will introduce innovation to nursing faculty, doctoral students, and undergraduate students. The nursing students will learn I-Corps concepts and strategies related product realization through hackathons, course modules, and other activities. This effort leverages the many opportunities for innovation in public health by enhancing workflow efficiencies, reducing worker injury, and improving patient care.   

I-Corps sites are part of the NSF I-Corps program, a publicprivate partnership program established in 2011. The NSF I-Corps program connects academic researchers with the technological, entrepreneurial and business communities, couples scientific discovery with technology development and societal needs and strengthens the national ecosystem for innovation.



Media Contacts
Sarah Bates, NSF, (703) 292-7738,   

Program Contacts
Anita LaSalle, NSF, (703) 292-5006, 
Lydia McClure, (703) 292-8798,  

Related Websites
NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) website:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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