I-Corps Innovations Training

Penn State I-Corps Innovations Training provides biomedical scientists, clinicians, engineers and students with a methodology to accelerate the translation of discoveries from the lab to clinical practice. The NIH-designed I-Corps curriculum provides a real-world, hands-on, immersive learning experience in how to transform innovations into successful products and services.

This course is designed to:

  • Determine the commercial viability of an innovation
  • Define the potential market and customers
  • Develop a successful business case for securing funding
  • Expand your network of innovation partners, mentors and potential collaborators
  • Create pathway to transition into a real-world application
  • Develop a new way of thinking about research

I-Corps Innovations Training is an initiative of the Center for Medical Innovation in partnership with Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Next cohort dates: Feb. 7 to April 3, 2020

Apply for Spring 2020 I-Corps Innovations Training

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Learn More About I-Corps

Who Should Participate? Expand answer

Faculty, clinicians, staff or students with biomedical innovations or ideas who are interested in learning more about the process of customer discovery and how it can improve their research and accelerate translation into clinical practice should consider applying for I-Corps.

Participants should be able to commit to attending all sessions throughout the course.

Learning Objectives Expand answer
  • Identify needs from the customer perspective through the customer discovery process.
  • Enhance and accelerate research and competitiveness of funding proposals by developing a compelling business case for research, focused on value propositions, customer segments, revenue and costs.
  • Define the clinical utility for a technology before spending resources on development. Gather data essential to customer partnerships and collaborations before doing the science.
  • Understand and further define the commercial market for a technology.
  • Build relationships with essential partners within the Penn State innovation ecosystem and external stakeholders.
  • Recognize the barriers that industry faces and the sales/marketing process required for initial clinical sales and downstream commercialization.
  • Strengthen self-confidence and presentation skills through biweekly presentations.
Course Strategy Expand answer

The course includes education on topics unique to biomedical research commercialization utilizing the scientific method as a way to test potential commercial pathways and build a compelling business case. The Business Model Canvas guides participants through hypothesis testing as they identify key customers and refine the commercial market for the technology.

Customer Discovery Interviews Expand answer

I-Corps focuses primarily on the customer discovery process, a methodology for uncovering the underlying causes of customer needs. A significant amount of time will be spent scheduling, conducting and debriefing interviews. Entrepreneurial mentors will provide feedback to participants based on their customer discovery presentations. Participants are asked to complete five interviews per week as part of the course. Teams then use the data and feedback to help guide product development and build a successful business case for securing funding.

Teams Expand answer

Each cohort will accept up to eight teams. Teams should have a minimum of two members and a maximum of four members. Those interested in joining an existing team should select the appropriate box on the application form.

Typical teams include the following members:

  • Academic lead: The academic lead is preferably an individual with an academic appointment that would qualify this member to submit proposals or play a role of principal investigator in subsequent submissions to the National Science Foundation (NSF) or National Institutes of Health (NIH). The academic lead can also be a postdoctoral scholar, a student, a professional staff member or an alumnus, provided the individual has a deep understanding of the technology that serves as the focus of the project.
  • Entrepreneurial lead: The entrepreneurial lead is a postdoctoral scholar, a student, a professional staff member or an alumnus with relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigating the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation.
  • Mentor: A mentor can either apply as part of a team or be provided by the program. A mentor will typically be an experienced or emerging entrepreneur who can transition technology out of an academic lab. A mentor is responsible for guiding the team forward and tracking progress.
  • Student team members: Penn State students are welcome to participate as team members during the course. As team members, students can gain value through the process and assist with scheduling and conducting interviews, as well as assisting with presentation materials.‚Äč
Course Schedule Expand answer

Attendance is required for at least one team member at each class session. Participants and teams are expected to commit approximately 15 to 20 hours per week for the duration of the program, which runs Feb. 7 to April 3, 2020.

How to Apply Expand answer

The Spring 2020 session of Innovations will take place starting in early February.

Individuals or teams will be selected for each cohort in a two-round application process. Teams can complete one application listing all team members.

The application serves to identify strong teams to participate in the program.

Interviews will take place to evaluate select teams based upon their application. Teams will be invited to participate in an in-person interview with the program instructor. Admission to the program will be announced following the interview process.

Apply here

Past Cohorts Expand answer



Instructors and Mentors Expand answer

Contact the Program

For questions, contact Kevin Harter, program director, at innovations@psu.edu or call 717-531-8496.