NSF I-Corps™ Hub

Helping academic entrepreneurS bring their innovations to market

THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI‘I (UH) IS ONE OF FIVE NEW AND 10 TOTAL NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (NSF) INNOVATION CORPS (I-CORPS) HUBS in the nation that provide experiential, virtual entrepreneurship training to accelerate the translation of discoveries from the lab to the market. The program prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory to increase the economic and societal impact of NSF-funded and other basic research projects.

The newly created NSF I-Corps™ Hub: Desert and Pacific region includes seven other universities — Arizona State University; University of Arizona; Northern Arizona University; University of California, San Diego; Boise State University; University of Idaho; and University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Together they will be responsible for supporting academic researchers in science and engineering throughout the region by: creating and implementing innovation capacity-building resources, tools, and training activities; identifying, developing and supporting research with market potential; gathering, analyzing, evaluating, and utilizing the data and insights resulting from the experiences of those participating in local, regional and national I-Corps™ programs; providing opportunities to diverse communities of innovators; and sharing and leveraging effective innovation practices on a national scale, to impact economic growth and improve quality of life throughout the nation.

“Having an NSF I-Corps™ Hub in Hawai‘i allows UH and the state to elevate, grow and diversify our innovation ecosystem and economy in line with UH’s strategic initiative to drive economic diversification and development across the state through research, innovation, entrepreneurship and technology,” said Vassilis L. Syrmos, UH vice president for research and innovation. “It also allows us to contextualize content and complement opportunities tailored to our local research and entrepreneurial community.”

Selected cohort members will participate in four weekly virtual workshops to learn and apply the Lean Startup Methodology and customer discovery process in order to assess their inventions’ market potential, and develop a business strategy to accelerate commercialization.

“This was the most eye-opening learning process in the last 10 years of my professional life,” said Andras Bratincsak, Hawai‘i Pacific Health pediatric and adult congenital cardiologist and associate professor at JABSOM, who participated in the inaugural Desert Pacific Hub cohort. “The program gave us new knowledge and practical tools to turn our invention into an innovation and discover new market segment opportunities.”

Bratincsak and his team qualified for and plans to participate in the national NSF I-Corps™ program to advance their patent-pending methodology for improving the electrocardiograms (ECG). By allowing doctors to more accurately and rapidly identify heart-related issues, these novel ECG evaluation tools could improve early detection and result in timely interventions and lower complication risks. Through the national program, Brantincsak’s team will be eligible to receive up to $50,000 to further the team’s customer discovery and commercial potential evaluation process.

“NSF I-Corps™ provides a gold-standard in innovation training,” said Steven Auerbach, UH project director for the NSF I-Corps™ hub. “Being part of a regional hub allows us to attract and integrate national resources and opportunities to enhance our innovation pathway, and we look forward to supporting more academic entrepreneurs through this program.”

For more information about the UH Desert and Pacific region NSF I-Corps™ Hub, visit: research.hawaii.edu/icorps