Researcher in lab

National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps

Tufts Gordon Institute is excited to collaborate with the New England Regional Innovation Node at MIT to provide students and researchers with impactful resources as they dive into venture creation and bring innovative technology to life.

The I-Corps mission is to improve the commercialization of research-based technology in the New England area, supported by year-round, hands-on courses and activities. Through the I-Corps opportunities, you'll get entrepreneurial training, support, and funding for customer discovery & your new technology - all while building your network of mentors, investors, and local entrepreneurs.

Not only do the program experiences help you gather evidence about product-market fit for your business idea, you could increase your chances of receiving an Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award.

Paul Bosco, Jr

NSF I-Corps provides a platform to combine your academic experience with the entrepreneurial mindset. It empowers us, as Tufts researchers, to apply our academic rigor to understanding real-world business challenges, gaining unique insights from potential customers, stakeholders, experienced mentors, and motivated peers. This program offers a unique opportunity to see where your ideas fit in the wider world, enriching your journey as a researcher and broadening your impact as an innovator.

Paul Bosco, Jr., Head of Product, Stealth Startup & MSEM '22

Get Involved

Spark (3-week virtual program)

  • Participate in 2 hands-on evening workshops (3 hours each)
  • Ask questions during 2 coaching calls with experienced entrepreneurs (1 hour each)
  • Engage in discovery exercises where you talk to potential users and prospective customers for your technology
  • Participation unlocks eligibility to apply for Fusion

Fusion (Self-paced program)

  • Conduct 12 new interviews and craft a final presentation
  • Gain additional coaching and funding for further customer discovery
  • Apply for $1,500 for travel expenses
  • Completing Fusion may qualify you to apply for the NSF I-Corps Teams program and a grant of up to $50,000!

Next Available Spark Cohorts

  • Kickoff Date: July 11, 2023

    Closing Date: August 2, 2023

    Workshop Times: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesdays/Wednesdays

  • Kickoff Date: September 13, 2023

    Closing Date: October 11, 2023

    Workshop Times: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesdays

Jimmy Edgerton

Think of NSF I-Corps Spark 3-week courses as the scientific method mixed with an entrepreneurial spirit! You will form hypotheses about your potential customers and what the customers value. You will be given tools to test the customers' problems via conversations with real customers. You will analyze the data, adjust your hypothesis, and improve your business' plans.

Jimmy Edgerton, Lecturer

Leveraging Tufts Entrepreneurial Activities and I-Corps

Jean Phuong Pham, MSIM '21, has partnered with Igor Sokolov, PhD, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, to launch Cellens Inc. which offers a revolutionary non-invasive test for bladder cancer. After winning the Derby Entrepreneurship Center's Montle Prize for Entrepreneurial Achievement and 1st place in the $100k New Ventures Competition, Cellens went on to join the National Science Foundation I-Corps program, receiving $50,000 in grants to do market research and establish their value proposition for patients, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, caregivers and other stakeholders.

Jean Pham presenting at $100k New Ventures Competition

Dive into Lessons Learned from the NSF I-Corps Program

Two Engineering Professors from Purdue University recently published a study outlining the research benefits associated with participation in the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Customer Discovery program, including "improvements in overall career success attributes, such as learning, mentoring, and research capabilities."

Click here to read the study.

Have questions?

If you'd like to schedule a call with Jimmy Edgerton, Tufts Lecturer and liaison to the NSF I-Corps, to learn more about available opportunities or upcoming cohorts, please feel free to email him directly at jimmy.edgerton@tufts.edu.

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