UAB's I-Corps Site Program
UAB’s I-Corps Site program is part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps program, which helps university-based academic teams translate research innovations into real-world impact. Our UAB Site program provides research teams course instruction on an established innovation approach that has a strong track record of success. This education is coupled with funds for teams to conduct initial customer discovery interviews to determine desirability, and access to follow-on grants and education from additional NSF and NIH programs.
Who can apply to the UAB's I-Corps Site Program?
What does the program provide?
The UAB I-Corps Site program provides a methodology supported by advice, resources, networking opportunities, coaching and modest funding to enable nascent innovation teams to do early customer/market evaluation (20 to 30 one-on-one interviews). Typically, innovation teams identify a professional meeting/conference related to their research idea and use I-Corps Site funding for conference fees and travel support. By targeting professional meetings/conferences, innovation teams engage in an intense, immersive experience to learn more about potential customers and how to validate problem-solution fit with new innovations.
Possible outcome of completing the program
Upon the successful completion of UAB’s I-Corps Site program, participants may be recommended to apply to the national NSF I-Corps Teams program. Acceptance into the I-Corps Teams program includes an intensive seven-week customer discovery bootcamp, along with a $50,000 grant to be used for additional customer discovery activity. Teams will also learn more about additional innovation resources, such as the SBIR-STTR programs, to support research startups.
When is the program offered?
I-Corps Sites applications are received and reviewed on a rolling basis.
Training and delivery method
Accepted teams will receive 8 hours of instruction (delivered over several weeks) in the I-Corps methodology (e.g. lean startup, evidence-based entrepreneurship, customer discovery). Instruction is flexible based on the needs of the innovation team and could include a mix of face to face and virtual sessions. Instruction includes three sessions: 1) orientation/introduction to lean startup and the business model canvas, 2) customer discovery preparation and best practices, and 3) post-discovery final presentation and next steps.
Funding for participants
Accepted teams will receive up to $2500.00 to conduct preliminary interviews (20 to 30) with customers. Funding may be used for the following:
- Fees associated with attending industry-specific tradeshows and conferences, either virtually or in-person. (Fees may include registration costs, airfare, ground transportation, hotel, etc.)
- Upgrading professional networking platform subscriptions, such as LinkedIn Premium, video conferencing platforms, etc.
- Traveling to visit potential customers for one-on-one interviews.
- Purchasing resource books, such as Business Model Generation or Value Proposition Design.
- With prior approval, funds may occasionally be used for minimal prototyping costs.
What funding may not be used for:
- Paying a salary or stipend to any member of the team.
- Providing gift cards or other incentives to interviewed customers.
- Attending tradeshows or conferences that are not industry-specific to your project.
- Attending research conferences that are not industry-specific to your project.
- Purchasing electronic equipment.
- Costs associated with conducting surveys.
The I-Corps Site program can take teams anywhere from 4 weeks to 3 months to complete, as teams progress at their own pace. To following steps are involved in the program:
- Prepare a line-item budget. Budgets should be as close to exact costs as possible.
- Submit an application and the budget.
- Application and budget approved by the I-Corps Site staff.
- Complete the 8 hours of instruction.
- Complete 20-30 interviews with customers.
- Work with Site program manager to determine next steps.
How to apply
There is no application deadline, and acceptance into the program is on a rolling basis.