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UB receives $500K to boost entrepreneurship in WNY

The Innovation Corps (I-CorpsTM) program is an effort by the National Science Foundation to develop scientific and engineering discoveries into useful technologies

By Grove Potter

Release Date: September 27, 2017

“As part of UB’s goal to have an impact on society and the regional economy, this program asks innovators to speak with end use customers to understand if their technology has merit.”
Christina Orsi, associate vice president for economic development

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The National Science Foundation has named the University at Buffalo a training site for the I-Corps program, awarding a five-year, $500,000 grant to establish a program to help researchers bring their ideas to the marketplace.

The NSF, which funds much of the technology research at universities across the nation, launched the entrepreneur training program to invigorate the creation of businesses commercializing research discoveries.

UB faculty and students make advancements that lead to new innovations. The NSF I-Corps Site Program at UB will train teams – typically made up of a student, a faculty member and an industry advisor – to explore the commercial viability of their innovations. A core part of the program is interviewing dozens of people knowledgeable in the chosen field to validate the proposed concepts.

Participants who complete UB’s I-Corps Site Program are eligible to participate in a nationally run “Node” program — a 7-week successor course that awards participants $50,000 and requires them to conduct at least 100 additional interviews.

What value does the NSF I-Corps Site Program at UB bring?

“As part of UB’s goal to have an impact on society and the regional economy, this program asks innovators to speak with end use customers to understand if their technology has merit. Will your customers actually use what you’re developing? That’s what we’re here to find out,” says Christina Orsi, associate vice president for economic development at UB.

UB faculty, staff and students who are considering commercializing a technology are encouraged to apply. Accepted teams will be provided $1,200 in funding to facilitate aggressive customer discovery. The I-Corps Site Program at UB is also interested in seeking regional business persons to serve as volunteer mentors.

Interested parties with experience in bringing technical products and services to market should email ubpartners@buffalo.edu with the tag line “CORPS.”

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