NSF I-Corps: About






Need help or answers regarding I-Corps at TLA? Let us know, we’re here to help.

Aileen Dingus
Coordinator, Venture Development
NSF I-Corps Site Program Manager


What opportunities are open to those who complete TLA’s NSF I-Corps Site Program?

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1547749. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Course Structure

Cohorts in the TLA NSF I-Corps Site Program meet once a week for 1.5 hours in a flipped classroom environment. Teams receive grants of up to $3,000.00 to assist with customer discovery and, once teams successfully complete 20 customer interviews, they make a “go” or “no-go” decision.

Teams that choose a “go” decision have the opportunity to apply for the national NSF I-Corps Teams Program. They may also continue to validate their technology, launch a startup and/or apply for SBIR/STTR awards.

A mentor gives his input during an I-Corps course.

I-Corps Team Development

I-Corps Teams comprise an academic lead, an entrepreneurial lead and a mentor.

  • The academic lead is generally the same person as the PI. The PI is responsible for overall grant management and must meet the PI eligibility requirements of the University of Arizona.
  • The Entrepreneurial Lead is often a student or post-doc working in the PI’s lab. This individual can also be a different researcher or member of the community working on the technology.
  • The Business Mentor is an individual, often from outside the university, who has customer discovery experience. The TLA team can help match you with the right mentor for your team based on area of expertise, experience and team chemistry. Contact Eric Smith, the Commercialization Network Manager at TLA for help finding a mentor.

I-Corps funds are reserved for such teams working on UA-connected technologies, including:

  • Inventions arising out of the work of UA-employed researchers and faculty.
  • Technologies developed by companies connected to the UA through the Arizona Center for Innovation (AzCI), the UA incubator at the UA Tech Park.
  • Student-developed technology innovations that demonstrate the potential for commercial and social impact.

Please check to make sure you meet the program requirements and contact TLA with any questions. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to commercializing their technology to be eligible for the program.

UA-IP vs. Non-UA IP

Depending on the conditions under which you created your invention, the University of Arizona may own the resulting intellectual property. If you do not know whether your IP is UA-owned or not, we will help you answer this question. The UA Intellectual Property Policy outlines what defines UA IP and the inventors’ rights.

Whether or not your IP is UA-owned, you will receive a market research report and a professional legal assessment of your invention as part of the program: 

  • For UA-IP: TLA’s Business Intelligence Unit will conduct market research and TLA Licensing Managers will assist with IP assessment.
  • For Non-UA IP: You will work with the University Libraries for market research and the IP Law Clinic at the James E. Rogers College of Law for professional legal assessment. TLA will connect you with the right resources once your application is accepted.

Check out the schedule to see which of the upcoming cohorts is right for you.

NSF I-Corps

Tech Launch Arizona administers the UA NSF I-Corps Site in collaboration with:

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