I-Corps@Ohio is a statewide program to assist faculty and graduate students from Ohio universities and colleges to validate the market potential of their technologies and assist with launching startup companies. I-Corps@Ohio is modeled after the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) successful I-Corps program, which has proven to increase innovation, entrepreneurship, and industry collaboration. I-Corps@Ohio is an initiative of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

The primary goal of the I-Corps@Ohio program is to advance the translation of fundamental research to innovative products and services that drive scalable business models that serve as the basis for startup companies. Furthermore, the program recognizes that these new ventures must be of sufficient merit to attract subsequent third-party funding, to encourage collaboration between academia and industry, and to train students and faculty in the practice of innovation and entrepreneurship. Teams that receive I-Corps@Ohio funding are required to complete an intensive 7-week, hands-on training program. The curriculum is designed to help aspiring entrepreneurial teams understand the market for their technology, develop a compelling commercialization strategy and attain new skills that will be very useful to a long-term career in research and development.

During the 7-week program, I-Corps@Ohio teams will:

  1. learn key business modeling concepts and how they are relevant to start-up efforts, including problem-solution fit, customer/market segments, value propositions, channels, and revenue streams;
  2. assess their core assumptions by developing and testing hypotheses about each critical aspect of the total commercial opportunity;
  3. conduct numerous interviews (up to 100) with customers, end-users, purchasers and channel partners to develop a rich understanding about the customer market and the needs for the proposed products and services;
  4. learn from executive mentors and program instructors with relevant industry, scientific and startup expertise.

Team outcomes will include a clear go/no go decision regarding market viability, a development and transition plan should the decision be to move the effort forward, and a technology demonstration for potential investors, collaborators and industry partners.

Founding Institutions

Six collaborating Ohio institutions of higher education, with support and funding from the Ohio Department of Higher Education, govern the I-Corps@Ohio program.

  • University of Akron
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Lorain County Community College
  • Ohio University
  • The Ohio State University
  • University of Toledo

Participating Universities and Colleges

Universities, colleges and community colleges accredited in, and located in, the State of Ohio are eligible to participate in I-Corps@Ohio.

Who Can Apply?

I-Corps@Ohio funds will be offered on a competitive basis ($15,000) to teams of faculty researchers and graduate students from any of the eligible Ohio colleges and universities. Under the supervision of business and entrepreneurial mentors, teams will develop market-driven value propositions and scalable business models around their technologies and attract angel and venture funding to support company formation and market entry.