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Local and Regional I-Corps Questions

Do applicants need to be affiliated with a university or a hub member institution?

We are open to faculty and student teams based out of any higher education or research institution in the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes region comprises Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

I am a technology-based startup not affiliated with any university. Can I still apply?

Applicants do not need to be affiliated with a university or hub member institution to participate in Local or Regional I-Corps programs. We do welcome community startup teams in the Midwest area that are focused on commercialization of deep technologies and on a path to SBIR/STTR if there are spots. Our first preference is for teams based out of higher education institutions.  

However, the National I-Corps program is only open to faculty-led teams affiliated with higher education institutions. 

Can teams of undergraduate students apply for the program?

Typically, our Local I-Corps programs are more suited to the needs of undergraduate student projects. We encourage you to reach out to us at to discuss your specific project/application.

I do not have an NSF research award for my technology. Can I still participate in Regional or Local I-Corps programs?

Yes, projects without NSF research funding are welcome to apply to the Local/Regional programs. Participation in the Local/Regional programs will provide the necessary lineage for participating in the National I-Corps teams program (if the team meets other NSF criteria). 

What is the cost of attending the programs?

Great Lakes Regional and Local I-Corps programs are 100% free.

Do all team members need to attend all of course meetings?

We prefer that at least one person on the team be identified as the primary contact who can attend all of the meetings.

Does participating in the program count as public disclosure of my intellectual property?

No, participating in the I-Corps program does not count as public disclosure. In fact, we discourage teams from talking about the specifics of their technology. The process of customer discovery is focussed on finding the unmet needs and pain points of stakeholders which is best done without disclosing your potential solutions. 

While filling out the application form, please do not disclose any confidential details related to the technology – just a high level overview of its uniqueness will do.

I am not sure which program I should sign up for - Local or Regional. Can you help?

The Local programs are targeted towards teams that are interested in just exploring the process of customer discovery whereas the Regional programs are targeted towards teams that are more committed to commercialization. Please feel free to reach out to us at to discuss your specific case further. 

National I-Corps Questions

Can I attend National I-Corps without attending a Local or Regional program first?

In some cases, yes. If you have a NSF research award for your technology, you are eligible to apply directly to the National Teams I-Corps program. If you do not have an NSF research award for your technology, you will need to attend a Local or Regional program before applying to the National program.

How can I find a mentor for the National program?

You can reach out to your institution’s technology transfer office, entrepreneurial support units, and alumni association. Networks in the regional ecosystem e.g. economic development agencies, small business development centers, and professional organizations are all good sources for finding potential mentor leads.

Institution and Industry I-Corps Questions

Our university would like to join the I-Corps network. Can the Hub help?

Yes, we would be happy to speak with you about how your university can get involved in the program. Please email

I am an industry person and would like to get involved. How can I do that?

Take a look at our Get Involved page. And, please contact us at