The University of Iowa has received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to establish an I-Corps Site Program for accelerating commercialization of technologies developed by UI faculty, students, and staff.

The program includes an initiative to increase the number of woman entrepreneurs in particular.

The University of Iowa’s team is the only one in Iowa and one of just 34 teams nationally that are providing this unique training for startups and early commercialization opportunities.

The UI I-Corps program will focus on entrepreneurial training, building on the work of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center’s UI Venture School, which offers an entrepreneurial training program based on the LeanLaunch Pad and Business Model Canvas.

With the addition of the I-Corps program, the UI will offer 12 entrepreneurial educational programs across Iowa annually (including several on the UI campus). In addition to the training, the program will provide small grants for up to 30 teams seeking to commercialize new research discoveries.

In addition to training, the program will have five main components:

  • Several business and technical support initiatives for I-Corps teams including the Summer Accelerator, a 90-day new venture launch program
  • UI ProtoLabs, a prototyping development program
  • UI Ventures, a comprehensive technical and business development initiative
  • UI Mentoring, a mentoring program connecting UI faculty and students to entrepreneurs, investors, and technical experts
  • A SBIR/STTR grant development assistance program

The UI I-Corps program also includes a Broader Impacts initiative focused on increasing the number of women entrepreneurs in the UI entrepreneurial community. Approaches will include targeted grant funding for women entrepreneurs, one-on-one mentoring that pairs successful women entrepreneurs with each new women-led startup, and formal recognition of accomplishments, grants and awards by women entrepreneurs.

Co-investigators on the grant are David Hensley, JPEC Executive Director and Associate Vice President for Economic Development in the UI Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPR&ED), and Richard Hichwa, Ph.D., Senior Associate Vice President for Research and Interim Associate Vice President for Research-Regulatory Affairs in OVPR&ED.

“The UI has developed strong working relationships with external stakeholders to identify experienced entrepreneurs and mentors to support UI I-Corps teams and to assist them in securing startup and early-stage growth capital for commercializing their technology discoveries,” Hensley said.

Hichwa said the I-Corps program “will significantly improve the campus entrepreneurial eco-system” by providing vital funding for new strategic investments in entrepreneurship education and support while leveraging existing commercialization activities offered through OVPR&ED.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development is committed to providing resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover