NSF creates New England hub for innovation and entrepreneurship

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NSF Innovation Corps accelerates the economic and societal benefits of basic-research projects.

September 18, 2018

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop programs and resources that will accelerate the translation of fundamental research to practical applications, improving quality of life and increasing the economic competitiveness of the United States through a New England regional hub under the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program.

The innovation hub, known as an I-Corps node, provides research infrastructure and training to help researchers transition fundamental science and engineering discoveries to the marketplace. It also supports a number of I-Corps sites across the country and delivers a seven-week I-Corps curriculum to the I-Corps teams.

The five-year, $4.2 million award will allow MIT to lead the New England Regional Innovation Node (NERIN). NERIN, headquartered at MIT, will contribute to the NSF National Innovation Network as the ninth regional I-Corps Node, and will be instrumental in assisting researchers across the region.

“NSF-funded I-Corps Nodes work cooperatively to create a sustainable national innovation ecosystem that further enhances the development of technologies, products and processes that benefit society. We are thrilled to welcome another I-Corps Node into the ecosystem to foster ideas in the New England region, and to further support national innovation and entrepreneurial excellence,” said Barry W. Johnson, division director of the NSF Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships.

Grantees of the NSF’s I-Corps program gain skills in entrepreneurship through training in customer discovery. The program prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the university laboratory and accelerates the economic and societal benefits of basic-research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization. Since the NSF I-Corps program was created in 2011, more than 1,220 teams have completed the national NSF curriculum from 248 universities in 47 states, resulting in the creation of more than 583 companies that have collectively raised more than $300 million in follow-on funding.*

 “It has become more critical than ever for university research to feed innovation that benefits society, especially in tackling the world’s biggest problems. MIT is excited to take a leadership role in advancing this initiative to increase the translation of fundamental research into technologies put into practical use and to accelerate the time from idea to commercialization,” says MIT Provost Martin Schmidt, who serves as the Principal Investigator on the award.

NERIN’s activities will include a variety of short training programs offered locally across the region.  The new I-Corps Node will also collaborate with key organizations in the regional innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem that can provide support and resources to help advance these scientific and technological breakthroughs to achieve societal impact. The I-Corps Node will work with other universities in the area and across the country to recruit and train I-Corps teams.

This I-Corps Node project will develop programs and resources that increase partnerships between academia and industry. It will reach and influence researchers across New England to act upon their ideas based upon basic research and initiate the exploration of getting their inventions and discoveries to the marketplace.



About NSF I-Corps

The NSF I-Corps program, a public-private partnership program established in 2011, connects NSF-funded scientific research \with the technological, entrepreneurial and business communities to help create a stronger national ecosystem for innovation that couples scientific discovery with technology development and societal needs. Visit the NSF's I-Corps website for more information.

*Data from June 2018.


Media Contact
Sarah Bates, NSF, (703) 292-7738, sabates@nsf.gov 

Program Contact
Cindy WalkerPeach, NSF, (703) 292-8437, crwalker@nsf.gov 

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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