UMD is one of only seven universities in the country to be selected as a lead university in NSF’s prestigious I-Corps Node program, a key part of the White House Strategy for American Innovation.

Together, the seven I-Corps Nodes link together over 75 U.S. universities. These nodes partner with regional entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to help scientists better connect their research to problems and needs in the marketplace using to lean startup tools and concepts.

The intensive and highly experiential I-Corps program was developed by entrepreneurs and is taught by entrepreneurs (including Steve Blank, father of Lean Startup) and was featured in this Harvard Business Review cover story. It emphasizes conducting hundreds of experiments, or interviews, with as many potential customers as possible; gaining insights about the significant pain points and needs of specific customers; and tracking the results of those experiments on a business model canvas.

UMD offers several variants of the I-Corps program:

  • An Intro to I-Corps program for UMD faculty interested in commercializing their research
  • A FedTech I-Corps course providing UMD students with opportunities to work with NASA, NIH, DOE, DOD, and other federal agencies to commercialize technologies
  • An Innovation Boot Camp workshop and program for clients like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services IDEA Lab and the U.S. Department of Justice Concept Lab that combines Lean Startup with Design Thinking to help teams from those organizations advance their innovation projects. Contact us if you’d like to run one of these workshops or innovation programs for your organization.



UMD Intro to I-Corps

If you’re a researcher at UMD, come to the next Intro to I-Corps workshop. Click here for a sample syllabus of the 2-week program. UMD’s Intro to I-Corps workshop is offered 5-6 times each year and is a campus-wide program jointly offered by AIE, OTC, Mtech, and Dingman.

Intro to I-Corps isn’t a typical research commercialization program. The workshop provides tools and guidance to help (in)validate a business model for maximizing the number people your research impacts. Validated opportunities can be then be pursued by you or by teams from UMD or from the region and could be a startup, a large company, a non-profit or foundation, government, etc.

In 2015 – 2016, UMD ran five Intro to I-Corps cohorts serving 30 research teams who collectively went on to win nearly $400,000 in additional innovation commercialization grants. The 30 teams represent 6 colleges, 3 interdisciplinary centers and 3 USM campuses.

Contact Kim Wallace at kkw03@umd.edu for more details or to register for the next workshop.



FedTech I-Corps

With UMD’s close proximity to over 70 Federal Labs in the D.C. metropolitan area, UMD students have opportunities through I-Corps to work with NASA, NIH, DOE, DOD, and others to commercialize technologies.

Our FedTech class pairs students with some of the most promising technologies from NASA, DOD and several other of the 87 federal labs located in the DMV region. Federal labs like DOE literally have tens of thousands of inventions that they’d like to have vetted for commercial potential, so FedTech students search for a repeatable and scalable business model for those fed lab technologies using the Lean LaunchPad framework. Students get course credit, a fantastic learning experience, and in some cases, even a job offer or career opportunity with the federal lab or with an industry contact made during interviews.

Read more about the FedTech program here and in this story from the Smith School. Contact Ben Solomon at benjamin.solomon@rhsmith.umd.edu for more details or to register for the next course.


Additional Info about I-Corps

More information about NSF’s I-Corps program is available at DCICorps.org and venturewell.org/i-corps.


President Obama Announces I-Corps Expansion @ White House Demo Day Aug 4, 2015