AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University has been selected as one of the newest National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) sites, a distinction that enhances the university‘s reputation as a leader in creating innovative solutions to address societal problems.

I-Corps sites act as a training ground for faculty, postdoctoral and graduate students to transition their ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace. Researchers will learn how to increase the impact of their research by exploring the commercial potential of their research and technology. In addition, the program will strengthen the university’s entrepreneurship programs.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations(EDIR) have partnered to develop Iowa State’s I-Corps program. Guru Rao, associate vice president for research, is the principal investigator for this project. Co-principal investigators are Kristine Johansen and William Adamowski, both program managers with EDIR who cultivate relationships with industry and run Iowa State’s Startup Factory.

“The I-Corps award further advances our culture of entrepreneurship and innovation by increasing support for students and faculty in translating research findings into value-added products in the marketplace,” said Sarah Nusser, vice president for research. “We are particularly pleased to strengthen the bridge between research discoveries and the potential to develop new start-up companies that increase the impact of our research.”

Iowa State is among the top universities in the world to be granted U.S. utility patents. As an I-Corps site, Iowa State will focus on translating discoveries that reflect its strengths in engineering, biorenewables, materials science and agriculture, food and nutrition, and veterinary  medicine. The program enhances entrepreneurship and innovation already happening across campus, fosters connections with other Midwest I-Corps sites, and helps strengthen the nation’s innovation fabric.

Each year, teams will compete to participate in the program (see below). Thirty teams will be selected, each consisting of an entrepreneurial lead (grad students or postdocs), academic lead (faculty), and mentor (emerging entrepreneur).Teams will receive expert instruction on the principles of starting a new business, writing proposals, understanding intellectual property, defining outcomes, and delivering compelling presentations to potential customers — all toward starting a new company. I-Corps will work with existing entrepreneurial endeavors at Iowa State, including the infrastructure and resources at EDIR, such as the Startup Factory.

“Iowa State’s research infrastructure, combined with our collaborative team approach and innovative spirit, provides the perfect setting for researchers to explore the commercial potential of their discoveries,” said Michael Crum, vice president of economic development and industry relations. “Being an I-Corps site also enables us to provide even more real-world, hands-on, immersive learning experiences for our students and further establish ourselves as a leader in launching and growing successful enterprises.”

ISU I-Corps site informational sessions

  • Monday, Sept. 11, 9 – 10 a.m., Gallery, Memorial Union
  • Tuesday, Sept. 12, 9 – 10 a.m., Pioneer Room, Memorial Union

Faculty, staff, post-docs, and graduate students interested in learning how the I-Corps program can help you explore the commercial potential of your research discovery or innovation and increase its impact are encouraged to attend either session. Microgrants are available for accepted cohort members. Topics will include an overview of the I-Corps program, application process and timeline, curriculum overview, and benefits of participation, including additional funding and program opportunities.