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.

Fall 2023 Deadline: 

  •   Apply by October 1st. Applications received by September 23rd will be prioritized.

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 2023 Workshop Schedule

Opening Session: Getting started – 10/12/2023, 4pm to 8pm (virtual)

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

Office Hours #1: 10/19/2023

  • Individualized Mentorship on Interviewing Progress
  • Refining Hypotheses

Office Hours #2: 10/26/2023

  • Individualized Mentorship on Interviewing Progress
  • Further Refining Hypotheses

Panel – 11/3/23, 12-1pm in person

Closing Session, Final Presentations – 11/9/2023, 4 – 8pm in person

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

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.

  • Wednesday, September 6 (virtual)
  • Wednesday, September 13 (virtual)
  • Thursday, September 21 (virtual)
  • Wednesday, September 27 (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

Life Sciences Future Conference

September 27 @ 8:00 am

More Info

PCI Open Office Hours at Penn Engineering

September 28 @ 10:00 am

More Info

Penn Engineering Commercialization Speaker Series: Fall 2023

September 28 @ 12:00 pm

More Info
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