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NSF program partnership enables OSU researchers to market their technology

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Media Contact: Harrison Hill | Senior Research Communications Specialist | 405-744-5827 |

Research at Oklahoma State University might begin as papers and lab reports, but it is often turned into real world, impactful technologies.  

However, researchers cannot do that alone. That is where OSU’s Cowboy Technologies and the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corp (I-Corps) program come in.  

“Cowboy Technologies, OSU’s technology commercialization arm, works with 30 developing technologies per year in the NSF I-Corps program,” said John Nickel, Cowboy Technologies assistant director. “Participation in this program creates a pathway for teams to apply to NSF’s $50,000 National I-Corps program, providing them with further opportunities for advancement and support.” 

The recent release of the NSF's biennial report on the I-Corps program highlights its impact over the years — which OSU faculty are proud to be a part of.

Out of the 2,500 teams that have participated in I-Corps since the program's inception in 2012, more than half have launched startups which have cumulatively raised $3.16 billion in subsequent funding.

The primary goal of the NSF I-Corps Teams program is to encourage researchers to explore the commercial potential of their technologies and understand the market demand. It helps identify potential customers, assess market needs and gather valuable insights to inform their technology development and commercialization strategies. 

“At Cowboy Technologies, we consider the I-Corps program essential for the development of licensed technologies or startup companies,” Nickel said. “We require participation for all our developing technologies, as confidently identifying a customer and their needs at the outset is crucial to long-term success.” 

The NSF I-Corps program is an initiative that aims to foster entrepreneurship and commercialization of innovative technologies emerging from academic research. It provides funding, training and resources to help researchers and their teams bridge the gap between their scientific discoveries and successful commercialization. 

“For over a decade, this immersive, entrepreneurial training program has helped thousands of NSF-funded researchers develop the skills necessary to identify market opportunities for discoveries that emerge from their work," NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said. "Having been part of the I-Corps program myself, I know firsthand how impactful this can be. I-Corps training empowers the entrepreneurial spirit and makes it possible to turn laboratory results into new devices, products and services that can serve the needs of people throughout the nation." 

Teams that participate in the program are eligible to receive up to $3,000 in team stipends and reimbursable travel funds to support their customer discovery activities.  

OSU researchers interested in participating in the I-Corps program can submit their technology’s information here or by contacting Nickel at or book an appointment.

The Full Report

The full report, mandated by the "American Innovation and Competitiveness Act," also describes NIH and DOE I-Corps activities and impacts. The I-Corps program, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021, has continued to grow — becoming more diverse and inclusive in every dimension, producing extraordinary societal and economic returns on federal investment, demonstrating resiliency and flexibility even in the face of a global health pandemic, and seamlessly integrating into the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems. 

Read the full report on NSF I-Corps website. 

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