The stage of Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live overlooked a packed house last Tuesday afternoon, but instead of the usual sea of music lovers, the brightly-lit venue overflowed with Penn students, researchers, and local entrepreneurs. Penn’s new NSF I-Corps Site officially launched on February 24th, kicking off the summer accelerator program designed to spur commercialization of university research.
“As Penn goes, so goes Philadelphia,” said the city’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger, referring to the university’s role in fostering innovation amid the city’s already robust entrepreneurial scene. The I-Corps site is one of the university’s many new cross-disciplinary programs designed to foster commercialization, joining the Y-Prize and Innovation Clinics sponsored by the Mack Institute.
How to Participate in Penn I-Corps
- Form teams and apply by April 12.
- Attend workshops on customer discovery from June 2 through July 9, Tuesdays (11-2) and Thursdays (12-2). The expected workload is 10 hours/week per person.
- Develop the idea over the next eight weeks. The program concludes with a final showcase event where an external review board of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts will select five teams for company creation.
- 3-5 members
- Must include an Entrepreneurial Lead, an Academic Lead, and a Mentor.
- Penn students, post-docs, staff, faculty, alumni, and members of the local entrepreneurial community are eligible
- Education, mentoring, and up to $2500 in funding
- Readiness for National NSF I-Corps program, competitions, and VCs
- Continuing commercialization support through Penn Center for Innovation
- SBIR funding rate of 60% for I-Corps graduates (as opposed to an 18% baseline)