Research ⇒ Startup

The I-Corps Sites Program at Georgia Tech

I-Corps Sites help University-based research teams turn their innovations into spinout companies. I-Corps Sites is a part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps program. In 2017, the NSF awarded a $500,000 I-Corps Sites grant to the Georgia Institute of Technology to support up to 150 teams of researchers over five years. The Georgia Tech I-Corps Site provides an organized research commercialization program with a strong track record of success, along with travel funds, and access to follow on grants from the NSF.

I-Corps Sites at Georgia Tech

The NSF I-Corps program was created in 2011 to increase the commercial impact of NSF-funded basic research. The program uses the Lean Startup curriculum developed by Steve Blank to search for product-market-fit for technologies that emerge from university-based research labs. NSF I-Corps has three grant programs: I-Corp Nodes, I-Corps Sites, and I-Corps Teams. Georgia Tech is one of seven I-Corps Nodes in the United States. Georgia Tech researchers have received more than 50 I-Corps Team grants. Georgia Tech was recently awarded an I-Corps Sites grant.

The NSF I-Corps Sites program at Georgia Tech is open to all students, faculty, researchers and staff at the Institute. We work with teams of researchers interested in bringing their research innovations to market. Topics for I-Corps Teams originate from research — both sponsored and unsponsored. As the manager of Georgia Tech’s I-Corps Sites program, VentureLab provides infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training, and modest funding to enable nascent I-Corps teams to do early customer evaluation in preparation for the national I-Corps Teams program.

Upon the successful completion of I-Corps Sites, VentureLab may recommend teams to the NSF I-Corps Team program. The I-Corps Team program includes an intensive six-week customer discovery bootcamp, along with a $50,000 grant.

national Science Foundation I-Corps program

Benefits of Participation

Learn What it Takes to be an Entrepreneur

The I-Corps Sites program includes seminars on topics that are important for researchers considering making the transition to entrepreneur.

Evaluate the Startup Potential for your Research

VentureLab has been helping create research spinouts at Georgia Tech for more than 15 years. We use the Customer Development model created by Steve Blank and adopted by the NSF I-Corps program. A key component is getting out of the building and learning from potential customers. Our formal approach discovers customers needs and identifies potential value propositions. By completing a handful of customer discovery interviews, you will have a better understanding of the potential for turning your research innovations into a startup.

Access to VentureLab

Teams that participate will work directly with one of the VentureLab principals. You will also have access to the VentureLab mentor network.

Travel Funds for Customer Discovery

The I-Corps program focuses on learning from customers. We ask our projects to first demonstrate product-market-fit before launching a company or even building a first prototype. This is done through a series of one-on-one interviews with potential customers. All I-Corps Sites teams are expected to conduct 20 customer interviews. To help accomplish this, we will reimburse teams accepted into the program for travel. You can use the travel funds to visit customers or attend industry trade shows.

Qualification for the I-Corps Teams Program

Prior to the I-Corps Sites program, projects could only qualify for an I-Corps Teams grant only if they had a recent lineage to NSF sponsored research. The NSF is now accepting projects that have successfully completed an I-Corps Sites program. If you do not have NSF research funding in the recent past, you can use the Sites program as a pathway to the I-Corps Team program and the $50,000 I-Corps grant.

Program Details

It is expected to take 6 to 8 weeks to complete the I-Corps Sites program. Here are the steps involved.

  • Attend two I-Corps Sites seminars. These one-hour seminars will cover how to do Customer Discovery and an introduction to the business model canvas.
  • Office hours with a VentureLab Principal to review your plan for initial customer discovery.
  • Ten local customer discovery interviews over the next two to three weeks.
  • Second office hours with a VentureLab Principal to review their results and prepare the formal proposal with a travel budget.
  • Travel budget approved by the I-Corps Sites committee.
  • Fifteen additional interviews using travel funds at trade shows and customer locations.

  • How to Apply

    All it takes is to complete our short application. Click the button below to get to the application page. We will review this and respond quickly. There is no application deadline, but acceptance into the program is on a rolling basis.



    Want to Learn More?

    Read our Whitepaper

    Creating a Research Startup at Georgia Tech

    Send us an Email

    Contact Paul Freet in VentureLab. Send an email to

    Past Participants

    6 PhD students and 1 post-doc researcher attended the Interdrone show in September 2017. These 7 researchers represented 4 different startup projects in the field of UAVs and drones.

    Upcoming Trade Shows

    The best customer discovery often happens at trade shows. That is because trade shows usually attract a large concentration of potential customers. There also is an opportunity to understand the state of the industry and see the latest technologies available from other vendors. We encourage our teams to maximize their time and their travel budgets by doing customer discovery at trade shows. Below are some example upcoming trade shows that might be a fit for your project.

    Medical Design & Manufacturing
    Anaheim, CA
    2/6/18 – 2/8/18

    Mobile World Congress
    Barcelona, Spain
    2/26/18 – 3/1/18

    International Wireless Communications Expo
    Orlando, FL
    3/7/18 – 3/8/18

    Game Developers Conference
    San Francisco, CA
    3/21/18 – 3/23/18

    National Association of Broadcasters
    Las Vegas, NV
    4/7/18 – 4/12/18

    Interop ITX
    Las Vegas, NV
    5/1/18 – 5/3/18

    Wind Power
    Chicago, IL
    5/7/18 – 5/10/18

    International Plastics Showcase
    Orlando, FL
    5/7/18 – 5/11/18

    National Hardware Show
    Las Vegas, NV
    5/8/18 – 5/10/18

    Display Week
    Los Angeles, CA
    5/20/18 – 5/25/18

    Society for the Advancement of Material
    and Process Engineering
    Long Beach, CA
    5/21/18 – 5/24/18

    BIO International Convention
    Boston, MA
    6/4/18 – 6/7/18

    E3 Expo
    Los Angeles, CA
    6/12/18 – 6/14/18

    San Francisco, CA
    7/10/18 – 7/12/18

    San Francisco, CA
    7/10/18 – 7/12/18

    Black Hat
    Las Vegas, NV
    8/8/18 – 8/9/18

    Intl Manufacturing Technology Show
    Chicago, IL
    9/10/18 – 9/15/18

    The Battery Show
    Novi, MI
    9/11/18 – 9/13/18