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UMD to Launch Mid-Atlantic Innovation Hub

February 22, 2013
Contacts: 

Eric Schurr 301-405-3889

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland is teaming with two top universities in the Mid-Atlantic region to tackle an enduring challenge: how to translate $60 billion in research funding into new products and companies that benefit society.

National Science Foundation Innovation CorpsThrough $3.75 million in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the University of Maryland, along with George Washington University and Virginia Tech, will launch a regional Innovation Corps (I-Corps) node with one sweeping goal: find the best entrepreneurial student and faculty researchers and help them bring their discoveries to market.

"I-Corps is aggressive, methodical, and just what our region needs," said Dean Chang, associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, lead institution for this program. "We live in one of the most fertile areas in the country for technology-based research, and our goal is nothing short of finding 300 of the most talented research teams and guiding them through the best technology commercialization program available."

I-Corps takes researchers through a seven-week program with a methodology that draws upon decades of experience in Silicon Valley, emphasizing talking to as many potential customers as possible, pivoting in response to resulting insights, building low-cost prototypes to get customer feedback, constantly adapting, and building a scalable business model.

Successful outcomes for I-Corps include a new startup, patent or technology license to a company. The program will also foster a culture of entrepreneurship among researchers and students.

Through the new Mid-Atlantic I-Corps Node, NSF will select up to 50 research teams from across the country each year and the Mid-Atlantic Node will select an additional 50 teams of its choosing. With up to 100 teams trained each year for three years, the total could reach 300.

In addition, the Mid-Atlantic I-Corps Node will establish a mentor development program to attract, train and retain top-notch mentors. It will also create a post-I-Corps support program to help teams with follow-on activities, such as continued customer development, minimum viable product (MVP) prototyping, technology transfer and licensing, fundraising, legal services and hiring executive talent.

The University of Maryland, George Washington University and Virginia Tech pull together a wide and experienced collection of resources and personnel to make the Mid-Atlantic I-Corps Node a success. Collectively, the three institutions have already taken nine teams through the national I-Corps program.

The new Mid-Atlantic I-Corps node is one of three announced by NSF, with additional nodes supported in California and New York, through a total of $11.2 million in funding. These add to existing I-Corps nodes at Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan. Collectively, these nodes create the foundation of NSF's plan to establish a National Innovation Network designed to propel research to market.