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National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Program (I-Corps) Teams

Terms and Condition

In addition to the NSF General Research Terms and Conditions, the notice of award letter contains special provisions applicable to the award. The university must follow the approved budget, the proposal referenced in the award, and any announcement or other NSF issuance incorporated by reference in the Notice of Award.

Background

I-Corps Teams comprise three individuals, consisting of an Entrepreneurial Lead (EL), an Industry Mentor (IM), and a Technical Lead (TL). Teams receive support in the form of entrepreneurial education, mentoring, and funding to accelerate the translation of knowledge derived from fundamental research into emerging products and services that can attract subsequent third-party funding.

To be eligible for an I-Corps Teams award, applicants must have received an award from NSF that is currently active or that has been active within five years from the date of the I-Corps Teams proposal. The previous award has to be in a scientific or engineering field relevant to the I-Corps Team's proposed innovation.

I-Corps Curriculum

This is a seven-week time-consuming curriculum that the PI and I-Corps team members must attend and fully participate in, as the award's technical performance will be monitored against this condition. Team members are each expected to spend a minimum of 15 hours per week participating and preparing for the scheduled I-Corps events and doing active customer discovery. At the end of the curriculum, Teams are expected to have performed at least one hundred (100) face-to-face interviews with potential customers and potential partners from their proposed target market(s).

Unallowable Costs

  • Costs of entertainment, amusement, diversion, social activities, and any costs directly associated with such costs (such as meals, lodging, rentals, transportation, and gratuities).
  • Legal expenses for company incorporation or IP protection.
  • Legal expenses or compensating "potential customers" for their time.
  • I-Corps mentors stipend or consultancy fees under the I-Corps grant.
  • I-Corps Principal Investigator salary or stipend.
  • Attendance at an academic conference using I-Corps grant funds is allowed only with a Cognizant I-Corps Program Officer's written approval.
  • International travel with I-Corps grant funds is allowed only with a Cognizant I-Corps Program Officer's written approval.
  • Technical R&D work unless requested and approved in advance. The approved amount cannot cannot exceed $5,000.

Allowable Costs

  • Certain meals that are an integral and necessary part of a conference or meeting (i.e., working meals where business is transacted).
  • To furnish a reasonable amount of coffee or soft drinks for conference or meeting participants and attendees during coffee breaks.
  • Participant support cost only when budgeted in the proposal. A separate project cost center is setup for this budget and expenditure.
  • Domestic travel for team members only to tradeshows as a way to interact with a large number of potential customers.
  • Domestic travel for team members only to do customer discovery is a normal part of the I-Corps customer discovery activity.
  • Short-term, modest support for the EL.

Reporting

Annual and final project reports to NSF must be submitted through Research.gov. The reports need to thoroughly detail the work conducted under the I-Corps Award, the team's progress and learning in the reporting period, the work outcomes, and the project's vision post-award. It should be clear what customer segments were explored, what pivots were made, and how the team sees their value proposition (or the rest of the business model canvas) after the award.

Intellectual Property Ownership

The University policy governs Intellectual Property ownership. As far as NSF I-Corps is concerned, the IP for the technology should be owned by either a member(s) of the I-Corps Team or by the university. NSF I-Corps will not typically fund teams whose IP is assigned to a third party.

No-Cost Extensions

One grantee requested no-cost extension is allowed. A subsequent no-cost extension is typically not approved.