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National Science Foundation
I-Corp - NSF Innovation Corps

Role of I-Corps Mentors

Within each I-Corps project team, the I-Corps Mentor will play an essential role: providing insight from the private sector. This individual typically will be an experienced or emerging entrepreneur with experience in transiting technology out of academic labs. He or she will also be in close proximity to the academic institution and have connections throughout the region.

The I-Corps Mentor will serve as the principal guide in determining the technology disposition. He or she also will be responsible for regularly updating the cognizant NSF I-Corps program director on progress toward this goal.

Mentors need to be intimately involved with their team. As part of the 15 hours of effort, the mentors need to commit five (three for the curriculum + two) hours of "face time" per week, and cannot "dial in" their team meetings. These team meetings must include:

  • Updating the customer contact strategy--the teams needs to make five to ten customer contacts per week
  • Ensuring that there is at least one update per week from the Mentor, the Entrepreneurial Lead and Principal Investigator
  • Summarize the lessons learned from the week and figure out the next steps
  • Reviewing the teams weekly presentation before they present to their peers
  • Identifying and correcting gaps in the Principal Investigator and Entrepreneurial Lead's business knowledge


The I-Corps Mentor Network embodies the public–private partnership at the heart of the NSF Innovation Corps. It is comprised of current and previous I-Corps Mentors from I-Corps Teams, as well as volunteers brought in by NSF.

Through the Network, I-Corps Teams will access a broad range of commercialization expertise as well as potential sources for business relationships and partnerships.

If you are interested in identifying yourself as a potential mentor for a future I-Corps Team in need of a mentor, please make a request to join the following LinkedIn group: Potential NSF I-Corps Mentors.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.