"I’m massively impressed with this program... We’ve accomplished more with our team in four hours than we’ve gotten through in conversations for the last two years. I can’t speak highly enough about the thought process and the structure of this program."

– Mary Poulton, Ph.D., Professor, Mining and Geological Engineering, I-Corps team member


  • Six weekly class sessions to help your team focus on customer discovery, learn the “Lean Launch” startup method, as well as prototyping, marketing and sales, financial modeling, and fundraising.
  • Experienced mentors and entrepreneurs to help you define and refine your strategies.


National Science Foundation Innovation Corps, or "I-Corps," is a course that prepares scientists and engineers to increase the impact of research. TLA Leads I-Corps at the UArizona.

The NSF I-Corps Program exists to help jumpstart a national innovation ecosystem by teaching Lean Startup Methodology with a focus on customer discovery and the lean canvas. The program provides funding and guidance for teams to assess their technology’s commercial viability. Successful I-Corps projects are well-positioned to receive future NSF grants designed for slightly more mature technologies, including SBIR and STTR grants.

Our next cohort will be held in late summer or early fall, 2022.

The series covers an intensive 6-week customer discovery-only session culminating in a "pitch" to an audience. 
Teams interested in pursuing the next level of the I-Corps program will then be offered an additional "business basics" session.

TLA requires teams have at least two active participants. 

I-Corps teams are typically composed of three Team members plus a Mentor.

  • The PI (who may or may not actively participate in the course)
  • A Team Lead (who may or may not be the PI)
  • Another Team Member 
  • The Mentor has experience in business or is an entrepreneur with real-life expertise.  TLA will match teams with Mentors.


Thank you to our I-Corps co-sponsor:

The University of Arizona Center for Innovation


Participate as a Team

Are you a UArizona student, faculty or staff member with a great invention and want to test its commercial potential? Do you dream of starting a company to bring your idea to the public? If so, then the NSF I-Corps program is your best next step toward a successful start. 

Countdown to Launch is right for you!

The program provides:

  • Six weekly class sessions to help your team focus on customer discovery, including a pitch day.
  • An optional additional session to learn the “Lean Launch” startup method and polish your plans, knowledge and presentation skills.
  • Experienced mentors and entrepreneurs to help you define and refine your strategies. 

There are no intellectual property obligations tied to this grant.


Participate as a Mentor

Are you an accomplished businessperson looking for a new venture? Are you ready to give back to the entrepreneurial community? Are you ready to pass on the knowledge you've accumulated to another generation of innovators?

Countdown to Launch is right for you!

As we know, mentorship is crucial to success and we need mentors who’ve “been there, done that” and are able to share their experience with those who are following in their footsteps. If you've "been there, done that," we invite you to become mentors for our I-Corps teams and guide them on the path to commercialization, with an emphasis on customer discovery. 

Each I-Corps Cohort consists of teams who participate in 6 instructional sessions, culminating in a final pitch event. Outside of the group sessions, teams and mentors meet to discuss strategies, interviewing techniques, business ideas and more. Some of our past mentors have even gone on to be part of the startup company!

Tech Launch Arizona hosts a mentor training session prior to the start of the cohorts, to give both new and experienced mentors and idea of what the program is and what is expected.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, please contact Site Program Manager Aileen Dingus at aileend@tla.arizona.edu to get things started.


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

Aileen Dingus
Marketing and Events Coordinator/NSF I-Corps Site Program Manager

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.