NSF I-CORPSTM Application Process

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Required Team Composition

  • Entrepreneurial Lead (EL): This person must be committed to pursuing the project (including potentially seeing it forward after I-Corps). They attend all cohort meetings and are the primary person conducting customer discovery interviews and presenting on behalf of the team.
  • Technical Lead (TL)/Primary Investigator (PI): I-Corps grants must go through a university. The PI is the faculty member who is authorized to receive the grant on behalf of the university. The TL may be another graduate student or postdoc from the faculty member’s lab. In I-Corps, the TL supports the EL and attends all cohort meetings.
  • Industry Mentor (IM): This person helps the team understand the industry landscape, manages confirmation bias during the customer discovery interviews, and connects them with stakeholders in the industry.

Eligibility for NSF I-Corps

  • Obtain NSF lineage:
  • Develop a deep technology/STEM innovation
  • Have the right to pursue the Intellectual Property (team members or sponsoring university owns it)
  • Open to the customer discovery process
  • Completed at least 20 customer discovery interviews before applying to NSF I-Corps
  • Commit to attending all cohort meetings and conducting 100 customer discovery interviews during the 7-week cohort

More information about team composition and eligibility can be found on the NSF I-Corps website.

Application Process

  1. Understand and commit to all participation requirements for NSF I-Corps: Upcoming Dates, FAQ’s, and Introductory Webinar.
  2. Complete a local or regional I-Corps program.
  3. Obtain a letter of support from your nominating academic institution using this template. The letter should be from the I-Corps Site program director or instructor most familiar with the team. It should indicate why your team would be a good fit for the NSF I-Corps program as well as your level of participation and performance in the regional I-Corps program.
  4. Prepare an Executive Summary using this template.
  5. Request an interview with the MWIN Application Support Team. All interviews are done via video conference. Choose a date and time for all members of your team to attend. Your letter of support and Executive Summary must be submitted through the interview form. The MWIN Application Support Team includes nationally trained I-Corps instructors as well as MWIN directors.
  6. Attend an interview with the MWIN Application Support Team. Teams are evaluated on a combination of factors, including the commercial readiness of technology, the potential market impact of innovation, and the team’s commitment and qualifications. The MWIN Application Support Team will provide guidance and feedback on your application.
  7. Address any issues cited by the MWIN Application Support Team before filling out the NSF I-Corps Teams Executive Summary Form.
  8. Participate in a screening interview with an NSF Program Officer. Unlike other federal grants, the application and approval process usually completes in under 30 days.
  9. If invited by NSF, submit a proposal in response to Solicitation 21-552.

Please contact midwesticorps@umich.edu if you have any questions or concerns.