NSF I-Corps Quick Course to supply entrepreneurship coaching to researchers


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania – Academic researchers interested in exploring the commercial potential of their technological innovations are invited to apply for a free, virtual short course from the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps), which will be held from Aug. October to November 6th. Applications for the course are possible until Friday, September 24th, 5:00 p.m. Up to five selected participants receive entrepreneurship training and mentoring while they virtually “leave the laboratory” and talk to customers in order to determine the best product market suitability for their research.

Teams enrolled in the four-week I-Corps Virtual Short Course will receive a $ 3,000 Travel / Customer Discovery Scholarship from the Invent Penn State NSF I-Corps site to continue their customer search. You can also apply for the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps National Teams Program, which includes a $ 50,000 grant.

Virtual short course autumn 2021

  • Session 1 – Workshop: 4:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., October 8th
  • Session 2 – Workshop: 9 am–12pm, October 9th
  • Session 3 – Customer Discovery Check-In: October 14th, 1 hour
  • Session 4 – Customer Discovery Check-In: October 21, 1 hour
  • Session 5 – Customers Discover Check-in: October 28, 1 hour
  • Session 6 – Penn State Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: 4-7pm, November 5th
  • Session 7 – Team Showcase: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, November 6th

The course starts with two workshops on Friday October 8th and Saturday October 9th. The teams learn to test and develop business models with the Lean LaunchPad methodology and how to conduct effective customer interviews to find out if the market is fit for their idea. Over the next three weeks, teams use resources like LinkedIn Premium (costs are covered by the NSF I-Corps grant) to talk to prospects about their needs, with the goal of conducting 30 customer interviews.

Sessions 3, 4, and 5 take place during Customer Discovery Weeks, with teams participating in hour-long video check-ins to share progress updates and be coached by the instructors. The short course ends with sessions 6 and 7, where teams present their results, receive additional coaching, and learn next steps with NSF I-Corps and Penn State’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Applicants are expected to be available through Zoom for all sessions.


Faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate, and undergraduate researchers from any Penn State campus who:

  • You have a technical innovation in any MINT area and would like to explore its commercialization potential.
  • Look for a $ 3,000 grant to meet (virtually) with 30 potential clients and explore the humble prototyping of their idea.
  • You may want to apply for the NSF I-Corps National Teams Program and an accompanying grant of $ 50,000.
  • They would like the NSF line to carry over to their research lines and be eligible for other NSF grants related to entrepreneurship.

Via Penn State’s NSF I-Corps site

Penn State’s NSF I-Corps Site was launched in 2017 and to date has hosted more than 20 customer discovery bootcamps and completed more than 95 site program startup teams.

The Penn State NSF I-Corps Short Course is hosted by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization, Invent Penn State, and the Penn State NSF I-Corps Site.

Last updated on 09.09.2021