I-Corps@Ohio is a statewide program developed to assist faculty, staff and students from Ohio universities, colleges and community colleges in validating the market potential of technologies and launching startup companies. I-Corps@Ohio is modeled after the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) successful I-Corps (Innovation Corps) program, which has been proven to increase innovation, entrepreneurship, and industry collaboration. The I-Corps@Ohio program incorporates lean launch, customer discovery and business model innovation methodologies to assess technologies, enhance the business acumen of research faculty and students and expand their entrepreneurial network relationships. Two cohort tracks are offered in Science & Engineering and Medtech, with each designed to offer both common and subject matter specific content. The long-term objective of I-Corps@Ohio is to systematically build a steady and predictable pipeline of  high-quality, high-growth startups from technology developed at the State’s colleges, universities, and research institutions, that contribute to economic development in Ohio.

I-Corps@Ohio is offered on a competitive basis to teams comprised of research faculty or staff members, students and executive mentors that have protected institutional Intellectual Property (IP) and a commitment to the commercial advancement of that IP, especially as a technology-based startup in Ohio. Teams develop market-driven value propositions and scalable business models designed to attract the business assistance, talent and capital needed to support a high-growth enterprise.

Estimated Number of Annual Awards and Cohorts: I-Corps @Ohio will disburse a maximum of 12 awards in 2022. The duration of each award is six (6) months.

Anticipated Funding Amount: Awards will not exceed $12,500 (US$).

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 8-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 8-week program, I-Corps@Ohio teams will:

  • Implement key business modeling concepts, including problem-solution fit, customer/market segments, value propositions, channels, and revenue streams;
  • assess core assumptions by developing and testing hypotheses about each critical aspect of the total commercial opportunity;
  • conduct at least 100 interviews with customers, end-users, purchasers and channel partners to develop a rich understanding about the actual needs for a proposed product or service and its overall market viability.
  • 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 forward, and a project presentation/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, founded the I-Corps@Ohio program and serve on the advisory board:

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

Expansion Institutions

In 2018, we expanded the advisory board to include members from the following institutions:

  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • Wright State University

Participating Universities and Colleges

Universities, colleges, community colleges and research institutions 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 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.