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From Science to Technology Scientists Commercializing Technology

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The American University I-CORPS Site is an NSF (National Science Foundation) sponsored program designed to foster science and technology entrepreneurship and support commercial development of innovations created at AU.

We seek applications from students (both undergraduate and graduate) and faculty members who would like to explore the possible commercial applications of an idea, concept or technology that they have developed.

The AU I-CORPS site program teaches early stage product and business development based upon an approach known as the Lean Start-Up Model. This approach to entrepreneurship and innovation involves the creation of a business model based on the concept of “customer discovery”, to test whether a venture concept has merit. The customer discovery approach can identify potentially novel commercial applications for an idea or technology based on customer feedback.

Participants in the AU I-CORPS site will also develop models, designs and prototypes within the STEAMworks makerspace. This collaborative lab features Auto-Cad design software, 3-D printing, laser cutting and electronics. Participants will gain critical technical training while developing their ventures.

The AU I-CORPS SITE program provides $2250 of funding for customer discovery and STEAMworks prototype development. Students participating in the semester-long program can also receive up to 3 course credits.

Semester Program

Participants in AU I-CORPS will commit at least 15 hours per week to market research, customer discovery and prototype development over 12 weeks.

Teams will:

  • attend commercialization seminars presented by executives in residence, business and technology advisory board members
  • be coached on developing the commercial aspects of their venture by business mentors
  • receive training and log open lab hours in the STEAMworks maker space to create a prototype of the venture product

By the end of the program, your teams will have accomplished the following:

  • received initial certification training to work in the STEAMworks maker space
  • become proficient in design and build tools in the STEAMworks
  • developed a prototype or design of your commercial technology
  • determined the size of your technology’s market, key market trends and competitors
  • interviewed 30 potential customers or end users
  • established a “Lean LaunchPad (LLP)” business model canvas
  • learned about potential sources of early-stage commercialization funding
  • decided whether or not to pursue commercialization of your technology
  • prepare to begin the patent process, apply for a commercialization grant, licensed a new start-up business or apply to the National NSF I-CORPS site program

I-Corps Teams Mentors

Typically a faculty member or entrepreneur-in-residence, but can also be someone who brings knowledge and experience from the relevant commercial field such as faculty, alumni, professional staff, or local and regional entrepreneurs. Mentors will assist student teams and participate in a selection of seminars throughout the semester course.

Faculty Technical Leads

Faculty technical leads will advise teams on the technical/scientific aspects of their projects, point them to scientific resources and connect students with their professional networks for customer discovery.

*Participating faculty are eligible to receive a modest stipend as a thank you for their service. Faculty should budget 3-5 hours per week advising teams.

Build a Team



Technology concepts can originate from faculty research labs, internship experiences, capstone courses, or other science-based practical courses. Concepts should be original and in an area(s) of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) normally supported by the National Science Foundation.

Entrepreneurial Leads

2-3 students with a passion & commitment to pursing innovation as it relates to design and commercialization. Students may be undergraduates with junior/senior standing or graduate students. At least one of the students should be a STEM or STEAM major with technical or scientific training.

Technical Lead

Teams should secure scientific advising from a member of the AU science faculty. The faculty advisor should have some professional, research or technical background in the concept to be explored. Technical leads will advise teams on the technical/scientific aspects of the project, point to scientific resources and connect students with his/her professional network for customer discovery. *Teams may consult the program director for advice in locating a suitable academic lead if one has not already been identified. **Mentors are eligible to receive a modest stipend as a thank you for their service.