The National Science Foundation (NSF) is launching a $5 million program to help scientific and engineering discoveries make the leap from laboratory bench to factory floor, Subra Suresh, director of the foundation, said today at the organization's board meeting in Washington, D.C.
The goal is to turn basic research into useful technologies, products and processes. The NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, a public-private partnership, will connect NSF-funded scientific research with the technological, entrepreneurial and business communities to help create a stronger national ecosystem for innovation that couples scientific discovery with technology development and societal needs.
Technology developers, business leaders, venture capitalists and others from private industry will work as voluntary I-Corp mentors, sharing their knowledge and experience with NSF and I-Corps awardees. The I-Corps program will initially support up to 100 projects a year, at $50,000 a project.
Over a period of six months, each I-Corps team, composed of the principal investigator, a mentor and an entrepreneurial lead , will systematically identify and address knowledge gaps to ascertain the technology disposition: What resources will be required? What are the competing technologies? What value will this innovation add?
The I-Corps program will also pilot innovative merit review processes to quickly and efficiently identify discoveries emerging from NSF-funded research projects for financial support as well as for mentorship through the national network.
"The United States has a long history of investing in — and deploying — technological advances derived from a foundation of basic research," said Suresh. "And the NSF mission connects advancing the nation's prosperity and welfare with our passionate pursuit of scientific knowledge. I-Corps will help strengthen a national innovation ecosystem that firmly unites industry with scientific discoveries for the benefit of society."
"While the main goal of I-Corps is to build on NSF's investment in fundamental research, the program also seeks to offer academic researchers and students an opportunity to learn firsthand about technological innovation and entrepreneurship to fulfill the promise of their discoveries," said Errol Arkilic, NSF program director for I-Corps.
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