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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

NSF chooses UMass Amherst as latest I-Corps site

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 25th, 2018

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has chosen the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst to be part of its national network of Innovation Corps Sites (I-Corps).

The I-Corps program aims to boost tech transfer and start-up activity on university campuses across the U.S. by providing students and researchers with the training and resources to take their innovations to the marketplace.

The NSF award to UMass Amherst will provide mentorship and funding to 24 teams per year, starting with a group of 12 in spring 2019.

“Having a site on campus will enhance our innovation ecosystem and enhance our efforts to translate research into impactful ventures and prepare STEM students for work in the innovation economy,” says Michael Malone, vice chancellor for research and engagement at UMass Amherst.

“While it is clear we would like to see our students and researchers making a product or starting a new company, the major goal of the training is simply to get off campus and interview potential users of a particular idea or technology,” says Kenneth Carter, professor of polymer science and engineering. “From there, one can make informed business decisions.”

The I-Corps program is expected to mostly include graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and recent graduates, though it is available to undergraduates as well. The site will also provide participants with the opportunity to engage with other I-Corps teams throughout the country.

The Amherst program proposal also zeroed in on diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship as part of its stated mission – an emphasis the school says is unique to its site. School researchers in economics will study the impact of I-Corps recruitment messages on women and minority groups.
“In addition to gaining insight into open questions regarding recruiting and engaging women and underserved groups in technology entrepreneurship, our training will help teams to consider diversity and underserved customer segments in their customer discovery exercises,” Carter adds.

“We see a continuous program going into the future,” says Carter, “because this seed money is not as important as the creation of teams, winning more small business innovation grants, seeing more successful start-ups, boosting the entrepreneurial spirit of the campus and getting more students trained to participate in the innovation economy.”


Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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