I-Corps to help realize new ideas

By Marissa Gross, Arts & Life Writer

Since the fall of 2013, UA has been participating in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps Program (I-Corps), designed to aid young, aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs in bringing their concepts to life.

UA was one of the first three I-Corps sites. Though it is still a relatively new program, already more than 40 teams—made up of students and faculty from UA and nearby universities—have received $2500 grants and the opportunity to get their ideas off of the ground.

I-Corps has become a great resource for those who don’t know what the first steps towards commercialization are; it prepares them to make that leap with the help of a team of knowledgeable and experienced people.

Teams are made up of at least three members. These members include a principal investigator, an entrepreneurial lead, and a mentor. These roles can be taken on by faculty members, undergraduate or graduate students, mentors from the community, and business or law students.

Technologies that have received grants already include an endoscope that can be hooked up to a tablet for use in rural areas and third world countries, a stretchable sensor for prosthetic devices, and a software that can sort bee-collected pollen by nutritional content.

Those without original ideas can even participate in I-Corps. UA’s Research Foundation is always looking for driven students and faculty with an interest in business and innovation to join the teams.

During I-Corp’s seven-week program, teams meet for a few hours on Fridays to research and prepare for commercialization. Teams learn about how to define customer segments, establish a competitive advantage that their technology brings to customers, and also interview people that might be interested in buying the technology once it is developed.

For more information or questions, I-Corps Research Associate and Project Manager Elyse Ball can be reached by email at [email protected].