How to Apply for the Vanderbilt I-Corps Site Program

Have a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) related idea? Have a piece of technology you’ve developed in the lab that you think might have commercial application? Looking for funding or mentorship?

Then you’re at the right place! 

The Vanderbilt I-Corps Site Program is open to the entire Vanderbilt community of Students, Faculty, and Staff from across any school or academic discipline. Through a partnership between Vanderbilt University’s the Wond’ry, Institute for Surgery and Engineering (VISE), and National Science Foundation (NSF), we are launching, for the first time ever, an I-Corps Site on Vanderbilt’s campus dedicated to helping you bring your STEM idea to life.

Through this program we will provide non-dilutive funding of $2300 and a pathway for further mentorship and guidance through the National I-Corps program where teams receive an additional $50,000 funding. Moreover, this program enables you to receive NSF lineage and greatly improve your chances to receive future SBIR and STTR grant funding.

Most importantly, this program is designed to help you identify product opportunities and potential customers all while exploring valid models you could use to broaden the impact of your work.

After applying via the link below, there are 4 pathways to participate in the Vanderbilt I-Corps Site Program:

  1. Participate in the Wond’ry’s PreFlight program. This is a 10-week extra-curricular course that meets every Wednesday at the Wond’ry. This program runs every fall and spring and the application typically opens the first week of the semester.
  2. Enroll in VISE’s IMPACT program. This is a semester-long for-credit course through the Vanderbilt School of Engineering that is geared towards medical device inventors.
  3. Take a for credit Innovation Development or Entrepreneurship Course, such as Marie Thursby’s Innovation Realization, Professor Dave Owen’s New Product Design and/or Professor Michael Burcham’s Launching a Venture courses.
  4. Contact the Wond’ry Team (theWondry@Vanderbilt.edu) and we can put you in our I-Corp mentorship and customer discovery program

If you are currently enrolled in or have completed any of the above programs and have a STEM idea, please reach out the Wond’ry team ASAP to discuss your eligibility.

Want general information about the I-Corps site program or have questions about the eligibility of your idea? Email thewondry@vanderbilt.edu

About the NSF’s I-Corps National Program

The National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Program was introduced in 2011 to accelerate the economic and societal benefits of academic research. At its core, the I-Corps Program teaches how to apply the scientific method to the development of business models that can support the translation of new technologies to commercial markets. The I-Corps Program is defined by a national network of Nodes and Sites. Participation in select programs at the Vanderbilt I-Corps Site program can provide your project with modest funding to support customer discovery efforts and provide NSF lineage that allow you the opportunity to participate in the National I-Corps program.

The National I-Corps program is an intensive 7-week program based on Steve Blank’s award winning Lean Launch curriculum. Participants do not need any background in business or company startup. In fact, that’s the heart of the program.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Have a STEM idea with intellectual property
  • Have participated in a site program (at Vanderbilt= PreFlight, IMPACT, New Product Design, Launching a Venture, or Innovation Realization).
  • Be able to attend a 3 day onsite kickoff workshop and 2 day closing Lessons Learned session. These are held around the country and upcoming dates/locations can be found here
  • Participate in weekly, 3-hr WebEx meetings. These begin after the onsite kickoff workshop and are composed of an hour lesson from the National Teaching Team on an aspect of the Business Model Canvas followed by time for each team to present on the progress they’ve made that week.

Eligible Team Composition:

Each team participating in the National I-Corps Program must have at least 3 members. If you do not have a team, the Wond’ry can help you find one if needed.

  • Technical Lead- Principal Investigator and/or Someone with a Technical Background in the area of the technology or idea
  • Entrepreneurial Lead- This person will do most of the ‘boots on the ground’ work during the program. The EL will conduct customer interviews and be the primary presenter during the WebEx meetings.
  • Business Mentor- Someone with a background in business formation, startup, technology transfer, etc. The Wond’ry has a pool of business mentors and can help locate someone to participate on your I-Corps team if needed.

Not sure if you qualify? Haven’t participated in our Vanderbilt I-Corps site programming, but are interested in the National Program? Reach out to us at theWondry@Vanderbilt.edu to schedule a time to meet with our team.

Apply Today!: 

Please fill out the Application Form Link