The National Science Foundation supports fundamental research and education in science and engineering. NSF's role results in new knowledge and tools as well as a capable, innovative workforce. These complementary building blocks of innovation have led to revolutionary technological advances and wholly new industries.

The goal of the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program, created in 2011 by NSF, has been and will continue to be to reduce the time and risk associated with translating promising ideas and technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace. I-Corps uses experiential learning of customer and industry discovery, coupled with first-hand investigation of industrial processes, to quickly assess the translational potential of inventions.

The I-Corps program is designed to support the commercialization of so-called "deep technologies," or those revolving around fundamental discoveries in science and engineering. The I-Corps program addresses the skill and knowledge gap associated with the transformation of basic research into "deep technology ventures" (DTVs).



In the program’s initial phase, I-Corps Nodes and Sites were funded separately to serve as the backbone of the National Innovation Network.

Since 2011, the I-Corps Program has consisted of three programs running in parallel: Teams, providing funding for scientists and engineers to explore industrial and societal needs through a standardized curriculum and process; Nodes, consortia of multiple universities responsible for delivering a standardized curriculum; and Sites, universities providing internal institutional support to scientists and engineers. There are 99 Sites and nine I-Corps Nodes nationwide:

In 2017, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA, Public Law 114-329, Sec. 601) formally authorized and directed the expansion of the NSF I-Corps program. NSF created the Hubs program to support that expansion. Through it, NSF seeks to evolve the current structure, in which I-Corps Teams, Nodes, and Sites were funded through separate solicitations, toward a more integrated model capable of sustained operation at the scope and scale required to support the expansion of the NSF I-Corps program as directed by AICA.

In this more integrated model, I-Corps Hubs form the backbone of the National Innovation Network and extend the network to other institutions.

NOTE: The I-Corps Hubs solicitation replaces the archived Node and Site solicitations (NSF 17-533 and 16-547, respectively).

Ruth Shuman (rshuman@nsf.gov)

Rebecca Shearman (rshearma@nsf.gov)