Midwest Alliance, NSF pilot SBIR ‘Phase 0’ program

ANN ARBOR–A new pilot program supported by the National Science Foundation will help early stage startups in the Midwest commercialize their technology.

The Midwest Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Node, led by the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University, and the University of Toledo, is one of seven university clusters across the country selected to pilot the NSF “Phase 0” program.

In 2012, NSF established the I-Corps nodes in an effort to increase university commercialization success and improve the quality and acceptance rate of applications for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 seed funding. The highly competitive SBIR program offers progressively larger investments from $225K in Phase 1 to over $1M in Phase 2. 

The Phase 0 pilot focuses on teams that have a deep technology, but lack the university affiliation currently required to participate in the I-Corps program. This program expansion recognizes that many great technology companies emerge outside or adjacent to the great research universities of the Midwest.

“University teams that go through the I-Corps process have a greater likelihood of success both in applying for SBIR funding and raising funding in private markets,” said Jonathan Fay, Midwest I-Corps Node executive director and U-M Center for Entrepreneurship Dixon and Carol Doll executive director. “It just makes sense to open up early stage technology companies in the Midwest.”

Under Phase 0, teams will be eligible to participate in the 7-week, 100 interview I-Corps bootcamp and then receive follow-on startup services that address common issues in startup formation, hiring initial employees, licensing and negotiation of intellectual property, accounting, marketing, and fundraising. 

To qualify, teams or companies should have a deep technology and consist of two or more entrepreneurs that plan to submit an SBIR Phase 1 application by December 2018. 

For more information, or to apply, visit: midwesticorps.org