UMaine selected to be state’s first NSF I-Corps Site

The University of Maine has been selected by the National Science Foundation as Maine’s first I-Corps Site. Applications to be part of UMaine’s first I-Corps cohort, which will begin Feb. 8, are being accepted.

The site activities help foster innovation and entrepreneurship by providing faculty, staff and students with the tools and guidance needed to identify valuable markets for STEM-based research. The I-Corps program is open to those who want to explore the commercialization potential of their innovation regardless of whether they want to start a company.

The I-Corps curriculum is based on Lean LaunchPad and Innovation Engineering. Selected teams are provided with Business Model Canvas tools, guidance on customer discovery, and Innovation Engineering tools to better understand the commercialization possibilities for an innovation or idea.

The program is a half-day boot camp followed by regular coaching sessions. Teams are awarded up to $3,000 to conduct interviews with potential customers and develop a basic prototype. Teams then have six weeks to complete their customer interviews and report back to the cohort. Teams also will be encouraged to apply for external funding to accelerate their progress.

Team ideas or projects can originate from student work, research (funded or unfunded), and institutional or industrial projects. The topical focus of a project must be in one or more areas of science, technology, engineering or mathematics normally supported by NSF. People with innovations in humanities, business, social sciences and interdisciplinary fields are encouraged to apply if they are connected to technology. Teams apply for selection by completing an online application form and interview.

The initiative is part of the Foster Center for Student Innovation’s UMaine Innovates programming. To apply for the I-Corps spring 2019 cohort, contact the Foster Center at 581.1454 or visit the website.