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NSF I-Corps

I-Corps @ NC State offers a National Science Foundation (NSF) training program aimed at helping researchers transition their ideas and inventions into the marketplace through customer discovery and market research.

NSF I-Corps Logo

What is I-Corps?

NSF’s I-Corps Program assists scientists and engineers in extending their focus beyond the laboratory to identify market opportunities for new technologies that benefit society and can increase the economic impact of university research projects.

The Nonwovens Institute (NWI) at North Carolina State University is proactively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our aim is to fully leverage and fortify our facilities to produce facemasks that are desperately needed in the coronavirus fight. Thus, with the full support of NC State, NWI is dedicating its meltblown and spunbond nonwoven making facilities and expertise to produce specially designed fabrics that can be delivered to USA manufacturers to assemble facemasks. Photo by Marc Hall

I-Corps participants will gain:

  • Entrepreneurial Training and Support from Industry Experts
  • Experiential Market and Customer Research Skills
  • Mentorship Connections
  • Access to NSF Resources

Apply Now

to move your innovation closer to market!

I-Corps @ NC State Impact


Total Cohorts


Customer Interviews


Participating Teams


in Follow-On Funding


Startups Formed

What to Expect?

I-Corps @ NC State is a four-session course aimed at arriving at a “go” or “no-go” team decision on whether to pursue commercialization of a technology.

Teams will receive instruction on performing customer discovery and market research at the beginning of the course and will then perform customer interviews each week to determine if the problem their solution potentially solves is a high enough pain point to drive customer adoption. Each team will present its interview findings at the weekly meetings.

Instruction topics include:

  • How to identify and interview potential customers of your solution
  • How to create and test a value proposition for your technology
  • How to develop and test market assumptions
  • How to assess and choose a business model

Program Expectations:

  • Expectations:
    • At least one team member is expected to attend all program events.
    • Teams are expected to commit to engaging in market research, customer discovery and other commercialization-focused activities outside of class.
    • Teams should complete at least 20 customer interviews by the end of the program.
  • Typical Team Composition:
    • Academic Leadfaculty member or co-inventor designated by faculty member. Expect to give 6 hours per week.
    • Entrepreneurial Lead – typically a graduate student or postdoc working in the Academic Lead’s research program (teams may have more than one Entrepreneurial Lead if desired). Expect to give up to 10 hours per week.
    • Mentor – someone with business and/or industry experience or experience coaching teams. Expect to give 2 hours per week.
    • You can apply even if you do not have a person to fill each role!
  • Program Benefits:
    • Training and guidance on how to interview potential customers and end users of your technology
    • Access to knowledgeable mentors who will provide you with domain and business expertise
    • Become members of the NSF’s National Innovation Network, and gain the ability to claim NSF legacy funding
    • Receive guidance in obtaining additional research and development funding, including the national NSF I-Corps teams program, SBIR/STTR grants, regional accelerator programs and external funding opportunities

Application Process

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. After submitting an application, a member of our team will contact you within one week to meet with you to discuss your application, the program format and expectations, and your team’s suitability for the program. If accepted, your team will be placed in the next available cohort.

Program Dates: Summer 2024*

  • Application Period: applications accepted until Sunday, June 16th at 11:59 PM
  • Selected Teams Notified: Monday, June 24th
  • I-Corps Prep Work: due by Tuesday, July 23rd
  • Class 1: Tuesday, July 30th, 9 AM – 12 PM
  • Class 2: Tuesday, August 6th, 9 AM – 12 PM
  • Next Steps Session: Tuesday, August 13th, 10 AM – 11:30 AM
  • Class 3: Tuesday, August 20th, 9 AM – 12 PM

*All class sessions this cohort will be held virtually via Zoom.


Yes. Teams can have multiple faculty members or students who want to contribute to the team and learn.

Yes, the I-Corps @ NC State team will work with you to help identify potential team members. Please indicate this is desired when completing the application, particularly if you are seeking a business mentor to join your team.

Yes. Also, by completing the NC State I-Corps program, you will establish an NSF funding lineage for your project, making it eligible for other sources of commercialization-focused funding from the NSF.

Yes. The I-Corps @ NC State program is open to research teams at other research institutions who are seeking to better understand their target market. Teams without an affiliation to a university might also be accepted dependent upon the team’s technology being deep-tech or deep-tech adjacent.

Still Have Questions?

Contact us to discuss the program and how it might help your project.

I-Corps @ NC State Team

Wade Fulghum

Assistant Vice Chancellor, New Ventures and Investments

Kultaran Chohan

Assistant Vice Chancellor, Technology Licensing

Amy Parker

Assistant Director, Research Commercialization Programs

Tim Martin

Senior Licensing Associate

Lisa Chang

Director of Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization and Lecturer

Raj Narayan

Associate Director and Professor of the Practice of Entrepreneurship

Greg Marvin

NC State Executive-in-Residence (XIR)

Bob Sheehan

NC State Executive-in-Residence (XIR)

Kevin Wright

Lecturer, Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Poole College of Management