Skip to Main Content

The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) has launched its inaugural I-Corps program, a virtual boot camp with 11 teams representing Chicago’s top research universities and community entrepreneurs.

This program will run for seven weeks and allow budding entrepreneurs to work with top instructors and mentors from the National Science Foundation I-Corps Site programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

The goal is to help participants move their technology from a lab setting into the market and improve the chances of overall commercial success. Participants will expand their network of like-minded peers, instructors, investors, customers and mentors.

Faculty and students who participate in this program will significantly improve their odds of receiving up to $1.75 million in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant funding to launch their enterprises.

Teams include faculty, graduate students and researchers from the Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University and DePaul University, as well as entrepreneurs from the Chicago community. Their innovations represent diverse sectors, including healthcare, energy, construction and education.

“DPI is thrilled to be expanding the reach of the successful I-Corps program in Chicago with entrepreneurs from across our Chicago partner universities, as well as from the broader community,” said DPI Executive Director Bill Jackson. “Moving research from the lab to the marketplace takes a village, and this first offering at DPI will support that pathway for more entrepreneurs to pursue transformative commercial endeavors that create high-wage jobs and social impact.”

A second virtual I-Corps program cohort will begin in September, one month from now. Both of these cohorts are a part of the Midwest I-Corps Node activity.

About DPI

The Discovery Partners Institute empowers people to jumpstart their tech careers or companies in Chicago. Led by the University of Illinois System in partnership with top research universities, it does three things centered around economic development: tech talent development for high-demand tech jobs; applied research and development; and building a stronger tech ecosystem. DPI prepares students and workers to step into and thrive in high-demand tech jobs. It also builds research teams and matches them with new funding. With state investment and a new innovation district in development, DPI has the resources to attract, develop and leverage the most ambitious people and companies the region has to offer — and keep them here.

About NSF & I-Corps

The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports fundamental research and education in science and engineering. NSF’s role results in new knowledge and tools as well as a capable, innovative workforce. These complementary building blocks of innovation have led to revolutionary technological advances and wholly new industries.

Created in 2011, the goal of the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) has been, and will continue to be, to reduce the time and risk associated with translating promising ideas and technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace. I-Corps uses experiential learning of customer and industry discovery, coupled with first-hand investigation of industrial processes, to quickly assess the translational potential of inventions.

Established in January 2017, the Midwest I-Corps Node aims to spur innovation, collaboration and economic impact in the region. Supported by a grant from the NSF, this alliance forms the backbone for a network that educates, supports and connects academic researchers to the entrepreneurial ecosystem across the region.