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 2023 Deadline:

  • The deadline for Spring 2023 was February 7, 2023.


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 2023 Workshop Schedule

Opening Session: Getting started – February 23, 4 pm – 7:30 pm EST (virtual)

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

Office Hours #1: Week of March 6 – office hours TBD

  • Individualized Mentorship on Interviewing Progress
  • Refining Hypotheses

Review Session: March 16, 4 to 5 pm in person

Office Hours #2: Week of March 20 – office hours TBD

  • Individualized Mentorship on Interviewing Progress
  • Further Refining Hypotheses

Panel – March 24, 12-1pm in person

Closing Session, Final Presentations – March 30, 4 to 8:00 pm in person

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

Pitch Session: April 20, 4 to 6 pm in person

Informational Sessions:

If you want 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, we recommend attending one of our optional info sessions. Each session is from 12pm to 1pm EST via Zoom and you can register here.

  • January 19 (virtual)
  • January 27 (virtual)
  • January 31 (virtual)
  • February 6 (virtual)

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

Penn Engineering Commercialization Speaker Series: Spring 2023 – Session 3 with Andrei Georgescu

April 6 @ 12:00 pm

More Info

Apply for $2000 award from Penn Undergraduate Capital Partners Launch Fund for your entrepreneurial project

April 10

More Info

2023 BioNJ BioPartnering Conference

April 18 @ 7:30 am

More Info

The Spring 2023 I-Corps application deadline has ended. Stay tuned for the fall application.

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