NSF News

NSF fosters the National Innovation Network through new I-Corps Hubs

5 multi-institution I-Corps Hubs to deliver entrepreneurship training across the United States

Building on the success of the decade-long NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program, the U.S. National Science Foundation today announced the establishment of five I-Corps Hubs that will scale the National Innovation Network and rapidly advance solutions benefiting society. Each I-Corps Hub is funded at $3 million per year for five years and comprises a regional alliance of at least eight universities. The I-Corps Hubs provide experiential entrepreneurial training to academic researchers across all fields of science and engineering.

The I-Corps Hubs form the new operational backbone of the National Innovation Network, a network of universities, NSF-funded researchers, established entrepreneurs, local and regional entrepreneurial communities, and other federal agencies that helps researchers learn how to translate fundamental research results to the marketplace. The Hubs will work collaboratively to build and sustain a diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem throughout the U.S.

"For 10 years, the NSF I-Corps program has been critical to fostering the creative spirit and entrepreneurship that enables NSF-funded research to be translated into new products and services and contribute to the nation's economy," said NSF Deputy Assistant Director for Engineering Linda Blevins. "I am delighted to launch the first of our I-Corps Hubs, which will form the foundation for strengthening and scaling this innovation ecosystem. The I-Corps Hubs will bring together diverse scientists and engineers, entrepreneurs, business leaders and industry partners from every part of our country, providing everyone with an opportunity to solve key challenges and spur economic growth, including new startups and new jobs."

The I-Corps program, established in 2011, connects NSF-funded academic researchers across science and engineering with the technological, entrepreneurial, and business communities to help create a National Innovation Network. The program is designed to support the commercialization of deep technologies, which grow from discoveries in fundamental science and engineering.

The I-Corps Hubs will serve national needs through five areas of responsibility:

  • Create and implement tools, resources and training activities that enhance the nation's innovation capacity.
  • Identify, develop, and support promising research that can generate economic value.
  • Gather, analyze, evaluate, and utilize the data and insights resulting from the experiences of those participating in local, regional, and national I-Corps programs.
  • Provide opportunities to diverse communities of innovators.
  • Share and leverage effective innovation practices on a national scale to improve quality of life throughout the nation.

NSF plans to issue a new I-Corps Hubs solicitation in Fall 2021 to continue to expand opportunities for entrepreneurship education and technology translation throughout the United States. The five I-Corps Hubs announced today, and participating institutions, are listed below.

NSF I-Corps Hub: Great Lakes region — NSF 2048612

  • University of Michigan — Lead
  • Iowa State University
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Missouri University of Science & Technology
  • Purdue University
  • The University of Akron
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • The University of Toledo
  • University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee

NSF I-Corps Hub: Mid-Atlantic region — NSF 2044502

  • University of Maryland, College Park — Lead
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • The George Washington University
  • Howard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Penn State
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Virginia Tech

NSF I-Corps Hub: New York region — NSF 2048498

  • The City University of New York — Lead
  • Columbia University
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • New York University
  • Rockefeller University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Stony Brook University
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • University at Albany

NSF I-Corps Hub: Northeast region — NSF 2048602

  • Princeton University — Lead
  • Delaware State University
  • Lehigh University
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Rowan University
  • Rutgers University
  • Temple University
  • University of Delaware

NSF I-Corps Hub: West region — NSF 2048703

  • University of Southern California — Lead
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • The University of New Mexico
  • The University of Utah

The I-Corps Hubs build on the lessons learned through the first decade of the I-Corps program. Specifically, in the program's initial phase, I-Corps Nodes, consortia of universities responsible for delivering a standardized curriculum, and I-Corps Sites, universities providing internal institutional support to scientists and engineers, were funded separately. Under the new approach, the I-Corps Hubs offer a more integrated approach that incorporates lessons learned from the program's initial success. The new operational model provides increased funding and enables scaling I-Corps across the entire nation. NSF-supported Sites and Nodes will continue to participate in the National Innovation Network while NSF transitions to the Hubs.

For more information, visit the NSF I-Corps website.