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I-Corps Mid-South Hub – Regional Programs

Have you developed technology in the lab that may have a commercial application? Join the NSF Innovation Corps Program to engage with customers and explore market potential!

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a partnering institution in the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Mid-South Hub, along with Vanderbilt University, George Mason University, University of Kentucky, Jackson State University, University of Louisville, Meharry Medical College, Tennessee State University, and the University of Virginia. Together, the I-Corps Mid-South Hub offers education and other support to introduce the regional research community to the National I-Corps Program.

Regional I-Corps programs enable the transformation of invention to impact through an interactive training session that runs for three weeks, which includes three workshops, weekly office hours, and at least 20 customer interviews. The curriculum integrates scientific inquiry and industrial discovery in an inclusive, data- driven culture driven by rigor, relevance, and evidence. Through I-Corps training, researchers can reduce the time to translate a promising idea from the laboratory to the marketplace.

UT I-Corps participants receive access to multiple benefits to assist with technical development and commercialization of these innovations.

  • Collaboration with ORIED and other sponsoring organizations, including the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, UT Research Foundation, UT Spark Innovation Center, and the UT Oak Ridge Innovation Institute
  • Knowledgeable instructors with firsthand experience in technology commercialization
  • Insight and perspective into buying decisions made by prospective customers
  • Application recommendations for an NSF I-Corps National Cohort, with a potential $50,000 grant award and the opportunity for 100 additional customer interviews
  • Substantial increase in potential for SBIR / STTR grant awards

The Innovation Corps (I-Corps) was created in 2011 by the National Science Foundation to support technology researchers as they move innovation beyond the lab and into the marketplace. These programs equip researchers and entrepreneurs with tools to validate their value proposition through a data-driven approach that transforms technical ideas into impactful solutions. Workshops include a hands-on introduction to the process of customer discovery designed to provide insight into how future customers will respond to products developed by the new venture.

The National I-Corps Program applies a scientific method to the development of business models that can support the translation of new technologies to commercial markets.  This intensive 7-week program is based on Steve Blank’s award-winning Lean Launch curriculum.

Each team participating in the National I-Corps Program must have at least 3 members. If you do not have a team, the UT I-Corps team will provide guidance and support to help you form a team.

  • Principal Investigator/Technical Lead – Principal Investigator or Technical Lead with a background in the specific area of technology being pursued.
  • Entrepreneurial Lead – A person designated to perform most of the ‘boots on the ground’ work during the program. The EL will conduct customer interviews and be the primary presenter during regional program events and meetings.
  • Business Mentor – Someone with a background in business formation, startup, technology transfer, etc. UT will offer support in identifying business mentors and locating individuals to participate as I-Corps mentors, if needed.

For further information, please reach out to our UT I-Corps team at icorps@utk.edu.

I-Corps is a program of the NSF that equips researchers and entrepreneurs with the tools to validate the value proposition of their ideas from the perspective of potential customers. The workshop is a hands-on introduction to the process of Customer Discovery designed to give the entrepreneur insight into how future customers will respond to products that are developed by the new venture.

The 2024 I-Corps Regional workshop will be conducted over a three-week period which includes 3 instructor-led workshops.

Session Dates and Times Location Details
Kick-Off Session 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
April 17
(Box lunch provided)
IAMM Seminar Room #147
2641 Osprey Vista Way,
Knoxville TN 37920
Customer Discovery, Business Thesis, Interview Techniques
Midpoint Workshop 12 p.m.-3 p.m.
April 24
Virtual session/Online
(Zoom link to be provided)
Business Models, Team Updates
Closing Session 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
May 1

(Box lunch provided)

UT Student Union
Seminar Room #169
Team Presentations, Lessons Learned, Next Steps

For further information, please reach out to our UT I-Corps team at icorps@utk.edu.

How to Apply

Registration deadline is April 3, 2024. For additional questions, or support with the application process, please contact us at icorps@utk.edu.