NSF awards Penn State $500,000 for research commercialization efforts

Faculty participating in Invent Penn State I-CORPS Site training programs become eligible for national I-CORPS program with awards of up to $50,000
Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In 2015, Penn State President Eric Barron launched Invent Penn State to accelerate the transfer of University innovations into the marketplace in order to drive economic development, job creation and student career success. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is supporting Penn State’s goal of taking more discoveries to market by awarding Penn State a five-year, $500,000 Innovation Corps (I-Corps) grant to establish the Invent Penn State I-Corps Site, in collaboration with Ben Franklin Technology Partner’s TechCelerator, Happy Valley LaunchBox, and the Invent Penn State Innovation Hubs

“NSF and the other federal agencies are committed to growing the impact of federal research funding by encouraging inventors to connect with mentors and speak to potential customers off campus,” said Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey. “This new I-Corps Site grant will allow us to assist more faculty, students and community members interested in exploring market opportunities for their ideas.”

The Invent Penn State I-Corps Site will provide commercialization training, mentorship, and up to $2,500 in funding for up to 30 startup teams per year. These boot camp-style programs will help inventors begin the customer discovery process, learn about the commercialization process, network with experienced entrepreneurs, and determine if a market exists for their innovation. 

The Invent Penn State I-Corps Site programs will be piloted at Penn State University Park and Penn State Altoona during the fall 2017 semester, and then expanded to include additional campuses in 2018-19. Selected teams will:

  • receive a mini-grant of up to $2,500, which can be used to attend industry trade shows, visit potential customers, develop prototypes; and cover customer discovery expenses;
  • have a dedicated mentor who meets with teams to provide business expertise, advice on pitch development and funding strategies, and help grow a network of contacts;
  • have priority opportunities to showcase their new venture at the Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference on April 19-20, 2018;
  • become eligible to apply for an I-Corps National Teams $50,000 grant award; and
  • qualify for an increasing number of NSF grant awards that require NSF I-Corps training as a criteria for eligibility.

Faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, recent alumni and community members interested in exploring the commercial viability of their idea or innovation can apply to one of a number of established programs based on the lean startup and customer discovery methods endorsed by NSF I-Corps. At University Park, eligible teams can apply to one of two qualified programs:

Ben Franklin Technology Partner’s TechCelerator programFall applications are due Sept. 15, 2017.

Happy Valley LaunchBox FastTrack Accelerator.  Fall applications are due Oct. 15, 2017.

At Penn State Altoona, eligible teams can apply to:

Altoona LaunchBox 8-week Training Program

These I-Corps programs are grounded in the same customer discovery-focused philosophy taught at the Penn State Clinical & Translational Research Institute’s Innovations Program, which is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.  

Contact James Delattre at [email protected] for questions on eligibility or award details. Penn State Commonwealth Campuses interested in participating in the 2018-19 Invent Penn State I-Corps Site expansion should contact Rick Brazier at [email protected].  

About Invent Penn State

Invent Penn State is a Commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation, and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and University-community collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research discoveries into valuable products and services that benefit Pennsylvanians and humankind. For more information, visit invent.psu.edu.