Carnegie Mellon University
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NSF I-Corps Program

Since the 1950s, the NSF has poured huge resources into U.S. research universities. To spur practical returns on its investment, the NSF has now set up a multi-layered program, the Innovation Corps (or I-Corps), to accelerate the commercialization of university research. I-Corps Sites focus on regional and local opportunities, whereas I-Corps Nodes train national teams.

NSF I-Corps logo

As part of its mission to foster regional growth, Carnegie Mellon's Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship has secured an NSF grant to establish an I-Corps Site at CMU.

NSF I-Corps Program Activities

The CMU I-Corps Site builds upon Carnegie Mellon's demonstrated strengths in fusing technology and entrepreneurship, in broadening participation for underrepresented groups and in collaborating with regional stakeholders. Our Site program recruits exploratory business ventures started by faculty, staff, students and alumni, training 30 Site Teams each academic year to accelerate business exploration and creation. The curriculum focuses on agile innovation tied to customer discovery, and the program supplements the curriculum with intensive networking, expert guidance and financial support for projects.

You and your team will:

  • become members of the NSF’s National Innovation Network and be able to claim NSF legacy funding
  • participate in the Site’s Meet-and-Greet Reception
  • attend six required weekly entrepreneurship seminars (approx. 1.5 hours each)
  • attend monthly progress meetings (typically the last Wednesday of each month)
  • receive up to $2,500 for activities to further your business venture through customer discovery
  • have access to knowledgeable mentors who will provide you with domain and business expertise
  • become part of the Project Olympus incubator program (Benefits to Becoming a PROBE [pdf])
  • have priority opportunities to showcase your venture at LaunchCMU, the Olympus Show & Tell, visits from entrepreneurs, incubators’ office hours and other activities
  • receive guidance in writing proposals for the national I-Corps Team program, SBIR/STTR grants, regional accelerator programs and external funding opportunities
  • have access to LaunchPad Central software using the Business Model Canvas for tracking your progress

PI and Co-PIs: Lenore Blum, Robert Dammon, David Mawhinney, Robert Wooldridge

Special Advisor: Merrick Furst, Georgia Tech/Flashpoint

Program Manager: Melanie Simko

Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, Project Olympus Incubator: Craig Markovitz, Robb Myer and Kit Needham 

Liaison, Center for Technology Transfer: Reed McManigle