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. Deadline to apply for Fall 2021 is early October.

We only work with ideas based on STEM research / education developed at Penn.

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.

Fall 2021 Workshop Schedule

Fridays 9 am to 12:30 pm

  • Oct 15: Who are your customers?
  • Oct 22: What value do you bring to your customers?
  • Oct 29: How do we conduct interviews?
  • Nov 5 (12pm – 1:30pm): Entrepreneurial Panel
  • Week of November 8: Teams do Field Work and Mandatory Office Hours (1/2 hrs. TBD)
  • Nov 19: Closing Workshop: What’s next?

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

Accelerating Innovation in Orthopaedics

October 20 @ 8:30 pm

More Info

2022 American Nurses Association Innovation Awards Deadline

October 31

More Info

Understanding COVID-19 and Addressing Disparities in Care

November 2 @ 1:00 pm

More Info
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