Participate in Penn I-Corps

Join the next cohort and test your startup idea with potential customers

Open to the Penn community: faculty, students, post-docs, staff, and alumni who graduated in the past year.  We only work with ideas based on research / education developed at Penn in STEM and medicine areas.

Spring 2024 Deadline:

  •   Apply by February, 19th, 2024. Applications received by February 12th will be prioritized.

Virtual Information Sessions: 

To learn more about the Penn I-Corps program, find out if your team is a good fit before applying, and/or meet potential teammates, register for one of three informational sessions.

The sessions are free, optional and virtual. They each take place 12pm to 1pm EST via Zoom during the following dates:

  • 1/19/24
  • 1/25/24
  • 1/31/24
  • 2/8/24
  • 2/16/2024
  • 2/19/24

Register for an information session here.

If you are unable to attend, you can watch a recording of an info session here.

You can apply as:

  • a team with an idea;
  • an individual with an idea looking to form a team; or
  • an individual without your own idea, who wishes to join a team.

Spring 2024 Workshop Schedule

Opening Session: (in person) 3/14/24, 4 pm to 8 pm

  • Team Introductions
  • Customer Segment and Value Proposition Hypotheses
  • Interview Design and Practice
  • Finding Interview Subjects

Getting and conducting Interviews: (virtual) 3/15/24, 11am to 1pm

  • Finding interview candidates
  • Landing interviews
  • Conducting interviews

Office Hours #1: (virtual) 30 minutes during the week of 3/18 to 3/22

  • Individualized Mentorship on Interviewing Progress
  • Refining Hypotheses

Office Hours #2: (virtual) 30 minutes during the week of 4/1 to 4/5

  • Individualized Mentorship on Interviewing Progress
  • Further Refining Hypotheses

Panel on Resources for Entrepreneurs– 4/12/24, 12-1 pm

Closing Session: (in person) 4/18/24, 4 pm to 8 pm

  • Final Team Presentations
  • Opportunities within the UPENN and NSF ecosystems
  • Next Steps

Application Process

  • We accept applications continuously on a rolling basis
  • Once accepted, participants can choose which cohort to join
  • Once a cohort fills up, you will be queued for the next one.

How I-Corps ranks applications:

The National Science Foundation created the I-Corps program in 2011 to support the commercialization of “deep technologies,” those revolving around fundamental discoveries in science and engineering. The I-Corps Program addresses the skill and knowledge gaps associated with the transformation of basic research into deep technology ventures.

Accordingly, Penn I-Corps classifies applications into four categories, with the 1st tier being the most preferred. Typically 10 to 12 teams participate in each course. About 50% of the teams fall in the 1st tier. Tiers 2 through 4 make up the remaining 50%.

  • 1st tier – Deep technologies arising from funded research: Researchers (doctoral students, post-docs, faculty) working on ideas based on research conducted at Penn and funded by NIH, NSF, DoD, or other funding agencies.
  • 2nd tier – Innovative research: innovative ideas developed at Penn based on deep technologies that do not originate in funded research
  • 3rd tier – Applied innovation: ideas that use known technologies for innovative purposes but do not represent deep technological innovations.
  • 4th tier – Remainder: ideas that do not fall in any of the above tiers

The Penn I-Corps Site works exclusively with the Intellectual Property (ideas) generated at Penn by students and researchers. Technologies developed outside of Penn do not qualify for participation in Penn I-Corps.

Programs For Penn Faculty, Students and Researchers with Ideas Based on Funded Research

If you want to explore creating a startup based on results from your research, you have come to the right place. Penn I-Corps will help you determine the market potential for your startup, which will put it on a growth trajectory.

We understand that the time constraints of a faculty member can make it hard to devote time to participate in I-Corps. That’s why we accept teams led by a member of the faculty’s lab.

More than 70 research-based teams have been trained by us.

  • Innervace: is a regenerative therapy company developing technology to treat Parkinson’s Disease. Founded by Dr. Kacy Cullen and Dr. Douglas Smith, Penn I-Corps helped form a team led by Dr. Kullen’s graduate student Justin Burrell. The team’s participation in I-Corps in 2017 helped define its strategy. The company has since raised funds from investors and is the recipient of several grant awards.
  • Vetigenics develops next-generation immunotherapies to treat disease and improve the lives of companion animals. Its founder is Dr. Nicola Mason, Professor of Medicine & Pathobiology at Penn Vet. After completing the Penn I-Corps training, Vetigenics participated in the National I-Corps program. The company is the recipient of an SBIR grant. In this video, Dr. Mason discusses her experience with I-Corps.
Penn I-Corps Logo

Programs for Penn Students or Researchers (With or without an idea)

If you have an idea, the Penn I-Corps customer discovery course will help you define your market and even acquire your first customers. If you do not have an idea for a startup, we can help you join another team that is looking for members.

More than 200 student-led teams have participated in Penn I-Corps.

Upcoming Events

All Events

South by Southwest Interactive 2024

March 8 @ 8:00 am

More Info

Application to Pitch for Philadelphia’s BioLabs Investor Day Closes

March 15 @ 8:00 am

More Info

BioLabs Investor Day 2024 – Philadelphia

April 16 @ 9:00 am

More Info
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