Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3), joined by Congressman Daniel Webster (FL-11), has introduced the Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act of 2018, supporting the expansion of the successful I-Corps program which helps turn federal research investments into innovative new products and jobs.
The Innovation Corps program, known as I-Corps, was created by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2011 to teach scientists and engineers how to turn their laboratory research into successful commercial products and services. The centerpiece of the program is the I-Corps Teams course, based on the highly successful Lean Launchpad curriculum developed by innovator Steve Blank and widely used throughout Silicon Valley and beyond. Since its inception, over 1,000 teams have participated in I-Corps. Thanks to a bill led by Congressman Lipinski, NSF has been able to expand the I-Corps model to a number of other agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and the Department of Energy.
“The federal government invests a lot of money in research and development annually,” said Rep. Lipinski. “I-Corps is a modest investment that leads to a big return on federally-funded research by significantly increasing rates of research commercialization, economic activity, and job creation. Just as the creation of the I-Corps program addressed an unmet need and helped scientist-entrepreneurs bring their ideas closer to market, my bill will fill the last remaining skills gap and empower aspiring business owners to access the private capital they need to be commercially successful. The bill will also ensure that more business-oriented scientists and engineers have access to this high-quality training, and will enlist the Government Accountability Office to ensure that the federal funds expended for the program are well-spent.”
“I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan measure with my friend Congressman Daniel Lipinski,” said Rep. Webster. “The Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act expands on the time-tested I-Corps program through adding a course for commercialization-ready participants. The course will focus on the essential skills of starting a successful and scalable business. The NSF’s I-Corps program will bridge the divide between the academic world and commercialization sphere, playing a critical role in the efforts to increase innovation for all Americans.”
“America is better for having I-Corps,” stated Steve Blank. “It has become the standard for entrepreneurship in the federal government, having trained over 1,000 of our country’s best scientists. It’s made turning our government-funded science into companies more efficient. We should do more of I-Corps. We can make it broader and better, reaching more people and teaching more skills. We ought to open the program to innovators and entrepreneurs who have ideas in every part of the country, whether they are in a university or a garage.”
I-Corps helps address the lack of funding from the private sector to develop entrepreneurial capacity at institutions of all sizes and types. It also helps strengthen the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (SBIR/STTR) programs, shifts institutional culture to better recognize the value of entrepreneurship, and ultimately pays the American taxpayer back many times over in the form of commercialized products that may have otherwise collected dust on a laboratory shelf.
“The University of Michigan has sent more scientists to NSF I-Corps than any other institution in the nation,” said Jonathan Fay, Midwest I-Corps Node Director. “We have seen first-hand the transformative impact of the NSF I-Corps program. Scientists and engineers come back from the program with a completely different perspective on their innovation, their research, and how we train the next generation of scientists. They leave the program with the language, skills, and networks to start the transition of their science into impact through startups or partnering with industry. I’m especially excited that we have partnered with Purdue University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Toledo to expand the I-Corps program across the Midwest. The Midwest is home to top research universities with over $18 billion in research expenditures. The I-Corps program is unleashing the societal and economic potential of that work.”