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OSU receiving $1.2M to fund new NSF I-Corps Hub program for 5 years

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Media Contact: Harrison Hill | Senior Research Communications Specialist | 405-744-5827 | harrison.c.hill@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University is among the universities included in the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) announcement Thursday of five new NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Hubs that will scale the NSF-led National Innovation Network.

OSU’s I-Corps program, under the guidance of Cowboy Innovations and the Spears School of Business, will receive $240,000 a year for five years as part of the regional alliance of eight universities in the Southwest region.

Receiving annual funding for the Hub program in the Southwest region are OSU, the University of Texas at Austin (lead), Louisiana State University, New Mexico State University, Rice University, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“The NSF has created this program to give universities such as OSU the extra manpower and a proven technique to commercialize research funded primarily by the U.S. government branches,” said Richard Gajan, OSU School of Entrepreneurship associate professor of professional practice and director of the OSU I-Corps Site program. “This process will lead to startup companies and economic growth. Importantly, it will begin to shift the focus of scientific research at the university to topics with greater commercial appeal.”

The $240,000 annual funding for five years includes an option to renew for another five years. The program is designed for researchers to find the commercial potential of their research and take the first steps by applying to I-Corps. Funds for the Hub award will be available in January.

Since implementing the site program in 2017, OSU has been awarded $300,000 for its site program and an additional $500,000 in National I-Corps grants. Numerous OSU teams have benefited from these monies, including four teams each receiving $250,000 in funding. Total funds to date to support the OSU I-Corps program is $1.8 million, Gajan said.

“The NSF I-Corps Hub award to OSU will serve as a key program in facilitating business understanding by OSU’s research and development teams who want to see their technology-based solutions translated into commercially viable products or services,” said Daniel Will, executive director of OSU’s Brightest Orange Ventures. “As part of Cowboy Innovations’ overall mission to connect OSU and industry, Brightest Orange Ventures provides business assistance resources and venture capital funding to help commercialize Oklahoma State University technology through successful startup companies.

“OSU technologies and their development teams participating in OSU’s NSF I-Corps Hub program will be on a more efficient, commercial outcome track and be better positioned to receive commercial grant funding to further develop working prototypes,” he said.

Gajan says the funding will pay for getting teams to participate and prepare to attend nationals. Participant costs pay a stipend to the graduate student and for teams to travel to meet and interview customers.

“This program can be instrumental in commercializing research conducted at OSU and other research institutions in Oklahoma,” Gajan said. “Successful technology commercialization leads to licensing revenues as well as startup companies and that brings economic growth to the state.”

I-Corps Hubs provide experiential entrepreneurial training to academic researchers across all fields of science and engineering. I-Corps Hubs form the operational backbone of the National Innovation Network — a network of universities, NSF-funded researchers, local and regional entrepreneurial communities and other federal agencies — that help researchers translate fundamental research results to the marketplace. The I-Corps Hubs work collaboratively to build and sustain a diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem throughout the U.S.

“I am delighted the I-Corps Hubs that we are awarding today will expand the footprint of the National Innovation Network, harnessing the innovation potential that exists all across the country by establishing clear pathways for researchers to engage with NSF’s Lab-to-Market Platform,” said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships.


More about Cowboy Innovations:

Oklahoma State University’s Cowboy Innovations provides seamless connections between OSU and industry that accelerate innovative solutions to market and provide collaborative engagements spanning the region, state and world. https://cowboyinnovations.okstate.edu/

Cowboy Innovation’s Brightest Orange Ventures is a catalyst for commercializing Oklahoma State University technology through successful startup companies. These high-tech, high-growth startups have the potential to generate significant economic impact in the region and state. https://cowboyinnovations.okstate.edu/brightest-orange-ventures/

More about the Spears School of Business:

The Spears School of Business exists to prepare people to make a difference in the world by teaching essential interpersonal skills alongside a high-quality business education backed by impactful research and outreach. For more information, call 405-744-5064 or visit business.okstate.edu. To learn more about the Spears School of Business, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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