NSF I-Corps Site Program Guidelines

All current University of Rochester undergraduate and graduate students, doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers, alumni, administrative staff, and faculty are eligible to apply as an Entrepreneurial Lead (EL). Academic Leads (AL) must be University of Rochester faculty members.

Proposed business technical ventures should be in either the idea, development, or startup stages and must fall under one of the following categories:
  • Physical Sciences
  • Life Sciences
  • Software
  • Mobile Applications
  • Website Platforms
Accepted teams must commit to attending their cohort’s orientation, two training sessions, meetings with their mentor, a mid-program check-in conference call, and the final Presentation Day. Failure to complete these elements of the program may be grounds for disqualification from the University of Rochester NSF I-Corps Site program and forfeiture and/or repayment of any grant awards associated with the program.

  • All application materials must be submitted in-person to Matthew Spielmann at the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship in Carol Simon Hall 1-211 or via e-mail to matthew.spielmann@rochester.edu no later than Noon on April 18th for Cohort III.
  • Applicants must submit the following documents in order to be considered:
    • Completed Application
      • Entrepreneurial Lead Signature
      • Academic Lead Agreement Form
    • Résumé of Entrepreneurial Lead
      • Other team members’ résumés (optional)
    • 1–2 page Executive Summary
      • Industry
      • One Line Pitch
      • Problem
      • Idea / Solution
      • Potential Target Markets
      • Potential Marketing & Sales Strategy
      • Potential Business Model
      • Known Competitors to Date
      • Competitive Advantage
      • Funds Needed
      • Use of Funds (see Itemized Financial Plan)
    • Itemized Financial Plan
      • Financial plans are detailed outlines of how your team will spend the requested funding. Plans should be submitted in the provided Excel template. When devising your financial plan, be thoughtful of each activity and its intended purpose in furthering the development and commercialization of your idea.
      • Please review the Financial Guidelines and adhere to that information when creating your Itemized Financial Plan.
  • Students may only apply ONCE per Cohort. Students may only be on ONE team per Cohort.
  • Applicants must find a Faculty member to agree to serve as an Academic Lead for the program. Academic Leads serve as advisors for the technical aspects of the team’s idea.
  • Teams must spend their Grant Awards in the Spending Windows specified by each Cohort. Teams must determine the dates they plan to spend the Grant Award and apply to the corresponding Cohort. Acceptance may be deferred to a later Cohort if the Selection Committee determines the spending outlined in the Itemized Financial Plan falls in a different Cohort’s Spending Window.

When completing the application materials, please keep the following criteria in mind:
    1. Team and Commitment – The I-Corps Site program seeks participants with an interest in entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. This includes a willingness to talk to non-scientists about your technology, develop hypotheses on how the technology might be developed into a product, and work towards technology development (rather than basic research) grants. Experience is a plus, but not a requirement.
    2. Intellectual Property Strength – Strong patent protection is characterized by broad claims that protect your technology and the space around it, as well as an understanding of related patents and publications that may limit your patent’s scope. Ideas should have a strong potential for patent or copyright.
    3. Technology Strength – I-Corps Sites deal mainly with early stage technologies in need of some level of validation. The Selection Committee will look at research to date in order to determine the technology’s plausibility, probability of success, versatility in other applications, and fit for its proposed application.
    4. Commercial Potential & Applications – The committee is looking for a thoughtful and plausible explanation of (1) how your technology might be turned into a commercialized product and (2) how you plan to test your commercialization hypotheses. Strong applicants will have a baseline idea about what their product will look like, who will buy it, and who their competition is.
    5. Fit with I-Corps Program – The first and most important goal of I-Corps Sites is to encourage technical entrepreneurship and teach faculty and students how to think about commercialization. Teams should have clearly defined goals and expectations for how the program can help develop and commercialize their idea.