I-Corps and Carnegie Mellon seek to create jobs in Pennsylvania

Rose Pagano Feb 12, 2017

Multiple research universities in Pennsylvania have decided to help federally funded research turn into more job options and business opportunities for the state by using the Pennsylvania I-Corps Network. This I-Corps group includes Carnegie Mellon University, Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, Lehigh University, and the University of Pittsburgh.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) founded I-Corps in 2011. I-Corps’ goal is to finance engineers and scientists while they work outside of the laboratory to allow certain NSF projects to cause a greater effect on people. The National Institute of Health and the Department of Energy have begun using this program, and the Science Federation of Ireland has also taken to the I-Corps initiative.

“The NSF I-Corps program is having a transformative impact on innovation by creating new pathways from discovery to commercialization,” John Holdren, who served as President Obama’s science advisor and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in a university press release. “The [Pennsylvania] I-Corps Network will help energize more faculty to explore the potential of transforming their research into powerful ideas.”

The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA) reflected overwhelming bipartisan support for the growth of the I-Corps program. It stated that I-Corps has a good track record for executing its goals, and federal agencies should take note and enact I-Corps practices. AICA also granted the NSF director permission to initiate both local and state relationships that resemble the work being done in Pennsylvania.
“NSF investments in fundamental research underlie technologies such as the Internet, 3D printers, GPS, and solar cells,” NSF Director France A. Córdova said. “The I-Corps program, which first started at NSF, is accelerating the transformation of ideas into commercial products and companies by training researchers how to bring their discoveries into the marketplace.”

A group put together by the universities involved in this plan has started looking into how a Pennsylvania I-Corps Network would help improve the corroboration of the best and most effective procedures on coaching, counseling, and encouragement activities for people who want to be entrepreneurs. This collection of people is also looking into ways to include other higher education places in Pennsylvania in the I-Corps program and how the I-Corps principles and teachings can help startups backed by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners is financially supported by the state of Pennsylvania and is a renowned economic development organization that supports new firms and established manufacturers through monetary investments, experience in the field, and collegiate assets.

“Within a span of only five years, the NSF Innovation Corps program has established a new model for catalyzing and fostering an innovation ecosystem that is firmly grounded in fundamental scientific research. I am delighted that the U.S. Congress and other federal agencies have strongly endorsed and embraced this program,” President Subra Suresh said. President Suresh led the creation of I-Corps as Director of the National Science Foundation.

Carnegie Mellon’s I-Corps Site program has included 203 people from Fall 2014 to Spring 2016.

“I am also pleased that Carnegie Mellon University, along with our sister institutions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, have decided to explore stronger collaboration on statewide I-Corps activities,” Suresh said.