NSF I-Corps Site at MSU

The National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program helps researchers assess the market opportunity for cutting-edge technology.

In March 2017, MSU was designated an I-Corps Site to encourage research-based entrepreneurship. This program provides training to learn the fundamentals of building business models along with money to go talk to would-be customers.

For MSU Researchers

  • Get up to $3k to assess your technology’s market potential
  • Build a stream of future potential industry partners
  • Gain grant lineage with the NSF
  • Increase your chance of securing SBIR awards by 3x

For Graduate Students & Entrepreneurs:

  • Explore the world of entrepreneurship if it’s right for you
  • Build business models around bleeding-edge technology
  • Gain a pathway to nearly $1.5M no-cost seed capital
  • MSU pays for most up-front intellectual property expenses

I-Corps teaches you how to get out of the lab & talk to potential customers.

Based on the Lean Launchpad developed at Stanford University, the MSU I-Corps Site training is a four-night course taught over two weeks by experienced entrepreneurs.


  1. Learn the fundamentals of crafting a value proposition and customer discovery.
  2. Interact with at least 15 potential customers
  3. Make a go/no-go decision regarding advancing a business

Up to $3,000 available immediately.

As an I-Corps Site, MSU has an annual fund of approximately $60,000 to award teams. Upon approval of your local award, you will have access to money to use for customer discovery.

Purpose of the Award:

  1. Attend tradeshows and expos to meet people who would be potential future customers
  2. Materials and supplies to make #1 more effective.
  3. Some personnel costs.

I-Corps Team Members

The Entrepreneurial Lead is the primary team member who possesses relevant technical knowledge and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation.

  • Typically an MSU graduate student
  • Carries the bulk of the workload
  • Would be the person to lead a resulting company

The Technical Lead is a faculty member, or co-inventor designated by faculty member, who serves as a technical advisor and overall project manager.

  • Typically an MSU researcher or PI/Co-PI
  • Recognizes that their main value is in the technology
  • Willing to encourage and promote the EL

The Industry Mentor (IM) brings entrepreneurial experience and serves as the principal guide in determining the technology’s path to market.

  • Typically someone who already has a relationship with the TL or EL
  • Someone who has commercial experience in the field of study
  • MSU’s CEO can help identify potential IMs.

Ready to get started?

Meet with our I-Corps Site team to discuss your project today!