Welcome to NSF I-Corps

NSF I-Corps is the National Science Foundation's flagship program that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship. It's designed to help researchers, inventors, and aspiring entrepreneurs transform their scientific and technological discoveries into viable, marketable products or services.

Soutwest I-Corps Hub logo

LSU's Role in the NSF I-Corps Hub Southwest

As the driving force behind customer discovery education throughout Louisiana, LSU plays a pivotal role in the NSF I-Corps Hub Southwest. Together, we are your I-Corps partners in the region, offering:

  • Training and mentorship for researchers and entrepreneurs.
  • Funding opportunities and grants to support your innovation journey.
  • Access to a vast network of industry experts.
  • Assistance with customer discovery, market validation, and access to technology commercialization.

Our Mission

Our mission is to bridge the gap between academia and industry, connecting brilliant minds with real-world impact. We provide resources, mentorship, and funding opportunities to empower individuals and teams to move their innovations from the lab to the marketplace.

Program Benefits

  • Improved chance of commercial success
  • Slash the time to take technology from the drawing board to market
  • Increase entrepreneurial skills
  • Identify customers and weaknesses in business model in weeks, rather than months or years
  • Increased likelihood of attracting follow-on funding, such as a federal grant to validate and commercialize your invention

Key Components of NSF I-Corps

1. The Team

Teams are usually comprised of an Entrepreneurial Lead, a Technical Lead (Principal Investigator), and Mentor. While required for national I-Corps teams, a 3-person team is not mandatory for regional training, and teams with 1 or 2 members are encouraged to apply.

  • The Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) could be a Post-Doctoral scholar, graduate or other student or other personnel with relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation.
  • The Technical Lead (TL) will typically be a faculty member, senior research scientist or postdoctoral scholar with deep and direct technical expertise in the actual core technology about which the I-Corps team is exploring commercial potential. Typically the Technical Lead will also serve as the proposal Principal Investigator (PI).
  • The I-Corps Teams Mentor (IM) will typically be an experienced entrepreneur with proximity to the institution and experience in transitioning technology out of Academic labs. The I-Corps Mentor will be responsible for advising the team through the I-Corps process and helping the team navigate the business ecosystem in the specific application area(s).

2. Curriculum

Our comprehensive curriculum provides participants with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the commercialization process successfully. This includes customer discovery, business models, and value propositions.

3. Customer Discovery

The heart of the program is learning directly from potential customers through interviews and feedback, a crucial step in understanding market needs.

Upcoming Cohorts

Dates TBA


A short application is required for each program that will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Team and Commitment
  • Intellectual Property Strength
  • Technology Strength
  • Commercial Potential & Applications
  • Fit with I-Corps Sites
  • Submit an Application

Applications will be accepted any time, and will be evaluated by the selection committee for admittance into the appropriate program.

Follow-On Resources

The goal of the program is to help LSU faculty, staff, and students commercialize their technologies and ideas. After completion of the program, several follow-on opportunities are available through the following:

  • NSF I-Corps Teams program, an intensive six-week National Science Foundation training with $50,000 grant
  • LSU Leveraging Innovation for Technology Transfer Program, LIFT2, prototyping grant of up to $50,000
  • LSU Innovation Park incubator
  • LSU Innovation business consultants' help applying for seed funding through the federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology transfer programs


In January 2016, the National Science Foundation designated LSU an Innovation Corps site to educate faculty, students and the community on entrepreneurial principles. Our goal is to help faculty and students answer important commercialization questions directly applicable to state and federal grant programs, and to identify industry partners and potential licensees.

In September 2022, NSF named LSU as one of the lead organizations for a new regional I-Corps hub -- Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico -- that will help propel more research out university labs and into the real world. LSU is supporting communications for the four-state hub and offering I-Corps training throughout Louisiana.