Rocket Innovations

University of Toledo I-Corps Program

The University of Toledo the 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.


Upcoming I-Corps Programs

Fast Forward Medical Innovation
Begins Saturday, October 3rd, 2020 
Initial session from 9 am to Noon.
-Medical, Healthcare, and Life Sciences

Topic Specific Programs
Begins Friday, October 2nd, 2020
Initial session from 9 am to Noon.
- IoT, IT & Software
- Advanced Materials & Engineered Products
- Renewables & Clean Tech

Interested in registering or learning more about our I-Corps program? Click here.


Program Overview, Expectations, and outcomes

  1. We request you attend only the initial session and the finale in person.
  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


The UToledo 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 - includes a minimum of one entrepreneur and a mentor. Applicants should be based in Northwest Ohio, but do not need to be affiliated with the University of Toledo. 
  • 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. 


The National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Program

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)


  • 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 
  • 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
Last Updated: 7/24/20