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NorthCoast I-Corps

Sponsored By:
The Great Lakes I-Corps HUB
The University of Toledo

The University of Akron

The National Science Foundation

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About I-Corps

The Joint University of Toledo/ University of Akron I-Corps Site program is short, part-time, and devoted to helping participants obtain funding and other support for the development of an idea, technology, or research outcome.

You can also work to meet a specific real-world need with your idea, tech, or product if you have developed one already. We welcome very early ideas, significant long-term research outcomes, or anything in between.


Once you have completed our local I-Corps Site program, you are eligible to apply for a $50,000 grant and join a National Level I-Corps cohort, and can even move on to other grant success.

About ICorps

Upcoming Programs


Fast Forward Medical Innovation

Begins: TBD
Initial session from 9 am to Noon.

- Medical & TeleMed

- Healthcare & Healthcare IT

- Medical Devices

- Life Sciences & Pharma

- Nursing

- All other related topics


Faculty R&D Program:

Science and Engineering

Begins: TBD

Initial session from Noon - 2 pm

- All Natural Sciences

- Engineering
- IoT, IT, & Software
- Advanced Materials & Engineered Products
- Renewables, Environmental, & Clean Tech

- All other related topics

Questions: Please connect with us for a 1:1 conversation as needed.


Email or 419-262-6222 

Upcoming Programs


  1. All sessions are online and can be attended from anywhere.

  2. A “team” can consist of a PI alone, a PI and a student, or just one or more students.

  3. All course materials are provided at no charge.

  4. You will be expected to have a minimum number of 1:1 interviews, over 6 or more weeks, with individuals or companies connected to your idea or project. The program will teach you how to identify and connect with the needed number of contacts.

Completion of the program will contribute to:

  • Taking an idea/technology/process from the lab out into the world

  • Insight into new research areas

  • Identifying new grant and funding opportunities

  • Eligibility to apply for a $50,000 grant for continued Customer Discovery

  • Building your personal network of industry and other connections

  • Potential for consulting opportunities and sponsored research

  • Creating an entrepreneurial mindset/culture in an academic setting

  • Training the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs

  • New start-up businesses and/or licensing opportunities

  • Creation of a proposal suitable for review by third-party investors

  • New curriculum development or improvement in current curricula

Program Overview


The Joint I-Corps Program is open to faculty, student, and community-led teams.

  • University teams -includes a faculty member, one or more students, or one or more students alone. Faculty from all colleges and departments are welcome. 

  • Community teams - include a minimum of one entrepreneur and a mentor. Applicants should be based in Northern Ohio, but do not need to be affiliated with any university.

  • Mentors -  can register independently to join a team as a way to see new ventures and share their expertise.

  • Students - can register independently to assist an existing team. 

National I-Corps



The NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) is a program that prepares participants to take their ideas and technology beyond the laboratory and into the world. The University of Toledo is an officially designated I-Corps Site.

The National Level I-Corps program combines guidance from established entrepreneurs, the input from an exceptional teaching team with a specific curriculum, and a $50,000 grant. In addition to the Benefits listed above the National Level Program can:

  • Help participants identify real-world outcomes that can emerge from their research

  • Provide training for all participants in innovative thinking and entrepreneurship

  • Can lead to a $250k PFI: AIR-TT or SBIR/STTR submission with a success rate of >50%


We know that participants in prior programs have received follow-on funding from a variety of sources, including:

  • NSF I-Corps program ($50,000) and the ICorps@Ohio ($15,000)

  • State of Ohio TVSF program (up to $150,000)

  • State of Ohio ESP program (called Jumpstart, they have grants from $50,000+)

  • SBIR grants ($225,000 to $750,000)

  • Over $1 Million from grants and outside investors, including Angels and Venture Capital Funds (VCs)


Participant Benefits


  • An opportunity to see the real-world impact of your research and technology

  • Expand your personal network; you have the funds to talk to anyone, anywhere!

  • Priceless connectivity and input from others in the field, expert teachers, investors, mentors, and industry people/resources

  • Increased skills- learn the language of business and the principals of a business model

  • In the future - better able to identify the increased commercial potential for your technologies

  • Increased probability of grant success;  SBIR/STTR Phase 1 $225k success rate of >50% (!)

  • Quicker elimination of non-commercial research tracks

  • Increase your visibility within your institution and field

  • Information that can make your spinoff or licensing choice simpler 

  •  More opportunities to attract potential students

  • More consulting opportunities

  • Up to $50k for customer discovery that you do not have to find elsewhere

  • Can spur a non-dilutive venture startup with potential equity position and monetary gain 

Grad & Post-Doc

  • Concentrated time to develop your interpersonal skills

  • Access to an alternate career path, potential equity position, and monetary gain

  • Increased knowledge as you learn about the fundamental principals of a business model

  •  Priceless exposure to expert teachers, investors, VCs, Mentors, and others

  • Learn about the real-world potential of your idea/tech

  •  Increased probability of future grant success; SBIR/STTR success rate of >50% (!)

  • Makes you more employable on teaching/research/industry/University path

  • In the future, you're better able to identify the increased commercial potential for your technologies

  • Quicker elimination of non-commercial research tracks

Entrepreneurs & Startups

We support Entrepreneurs as they grow their ventures in our region. In fact, this is central to our mission at The University of Akron and the University of Toledo. We have many ways in which we assist and train innovators and entrepreneurs. We provide:

  • Access to funding sources for startups and entrepreneurial companies

  • Connections to Mentors and industry advisors through the UARF Senior Fellows, Executives-in-Residence, and Entrepreneur Executives programs.

  • Training in Customer Discovery our NSF I-Corps Sites program.

  • Working and office space on our campuses

  • Access to student interns for your team



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