NSF I-Corps trains an entrepreneurial workforce, enables economic impact nationwide

Biennial report shows more than 2,500 I-Corps teams created nearly 1,400 startups and raised $3.16 billion since 2012

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) today released its biennial report on the efficacy of the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program. The report highlights I-Corps impacts, including details about the implementation of the program at three agencies: NSF, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Energy (DOE). This year's report describes how I-Corps responds to four urgent national needs: training an entrepreneurial workforce, translating technologies, enabling economic impact, and nurturing an innovation ecosystem.

More than 2,500 teams have participated in NSF I-Corps since the program's inception in 2012. More than half of these teams, nearly 1,400, have launched startups which have cumulatively raised $3.16 billion in subsequent funding.

"For over a decade, this immersive, entrepreneurial training program has helped thousands of NSF-funded researchers develop the skills necessary to identify market opportunities for discoveries that emerge from their work," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "Having been part of the I-Corps program myself, I know firsthand how impactful this can be. I-Corps training empowers the entrepreneurial spirit and makes it possible to turn laboratory results into new devices, products and services that can serve the needs of people throughout the nation."

I-Corps' training and infrastructure represent a critically important investment for NSF and the nation. The program trains researchers with the practical entrepreneurial skills necessary to identify valuable market opportunities that can emerge from academic research. Ultimately, I-Corps accelerates basic research projects with economic and societal benefits toward commercialization.

The report, which is mandated by the "American Innovation and Competitiveness Act," also describes NIH and DOE I-Corps activities and impacts. Although each agency implements I-Corps at a different stage of the journey from demonstration to validation, each agency shares in the common vision of empowering researchers to test the market and accelerate the impacts of their discoveries.

NSF has built a structure that can expand the I-Corps program throughout the research community, entrepreneurial communities and other federal agencies, resulting in the National Innovation Network — a tightly connected organization of I-Corps Hubs, Nodes and Sites across the U.S. that make up the program's regional and national training programs. The network empowers researchers and entrepreneurs across the country to learn how to bring innovation research to the marketplace.

The I-Corps program, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021, has continued to grow — becoming more diverse and inclusive in every dimension, producing extraordinary societal and economic returns on federal investment, demonstrating resiliency and flexibility even in the face of a global health pandemic, and seamlessly integrating into the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Read the full report on the NSF I-Corps website.