What is the Ventureprise Launch National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Program?
Ventureprise Launch NSF I-Corps is for UNC Charlotte faculty, students and staff to explore the commercial possibilities of their ideas and research. This six week program provides University innovators with commercialization advice, training and funding to identify potential customers. Upon completion of the program, teams will have gained:
- 'Lab to Market' knowledge that can lead to commercial success
- Up to $3,000 in NSF funding for prototype development, conference & customer interview travel, and materials & supplies related to customer identification
- Experience in the NSF funding pipeline and additional funding opportunities in excess of $1 Million
The NSF I-Corps program prepares participants to extend their focus beyond the university laboratory, and accelerates the economic and societal benefits of NSF-funded, basic-research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization.
Through I-Corps, NSF participants learn to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research, and gain skills in entrepreneurship through training in customer discovery and guidance from established entrepreneurs.
What is customer discovery?
- Establishes series of business model hypotheses and helps you develop a plan to test customer feedback.
- Gets you repeatedly in front of customers to turn your initial hypotheses about your market and customers into facts.
- Helps you understand your customers' wants and needs as you design and refine your innovation.
- Makes you ask the difficult BUT NECESSARY questions to propel your innovation forward. At the end of the program you wil be able to answer,
Does my innovation/research have me solving a problem that many people want (or need) me to fill?
Applying to the Program
- A two person team, including an Academic Lead (Faculty Member) and Entrepreneurial Lead (Student or Staff Member) with relevant knowledge of the research. Each team will be made of at least one Academic Lead and Entrepreneurial Lead. We welcome teams with multiple Entrepreneurial leads. Ventureprise will assist in team formation if needed
- STEM based research that has produced substantive data. This may include, but not limited to, proposed ventures related to physical scienes, life sciences, software, informatics, energy, educational technology, nursing and architecture
Teams will be required to participate in at least six weeks of entrepreneurial seminars and programming (1.5 hours weekly). Additionally, they will spend 1-3 hours per week completing approximately 30 customer interviews.
Teams will be expected to make a commercial viability decision at the end of the program. Successful completion makes teams eligible to compete for additional NSF opportunities including the $50,000 NSF I-Corps Team program. The commercialization insights developed will enable teams to create compelling applications for multiple funding opportunities such as:
- $50K NSF I-Corps Team
- $200K NSF PFI: Air TT
- $150K NSF SBIR Phase I
- $750K NSF SBIR Phase II
- $500K NSF SBIR IIB
- $50K+ Charlotte Venture Challenge and Pitch Day
- $50K NC IDEA Seed Grant
- $50K Venturewell Student e-team Program
Ventureprise Launch NSF I-Corps Program Statistics
Over $1.8M in additional funding has been raised by program graduates
- 65 Teams have participated
- 40 Faculty
- 93 Students
- 6 Colleges and 13 Departments represented
Applications and Information
For more information, contact Devin Collins, Co-Principal Investigator
Devin.Collins@uncc.edu or 704 687-8058