The National Science Foundation has announced the establishment of five I-Corps Hubs around the country that will focus on real-world entrepreneurial training to academic researchers across all fields of science and engineering, resulting in economic development and job creation.

The University of New Mexico is part of the West region I-Corps Hub, led by the University of Southern California, which will help to advance new technologies and incubate emerging companies that can move discoveries from the lab to the marketplace.

Each I-Corps Hub is funded at $3 million a year for five years and is made up of a regional alliance of at least eight universities. In addition to UNM and USC, the West region partners are California Institute of Technology; Colorado School of Mines; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Riverside; University of Colorado Boulder; and The University of Utah. For the past six years, these universities have trained more than 925 entrepreneur teams through their participation in the NSF I-Corps program.

UNM’s team is led by Christos Christodoulou, Jim and Ellen King Dean of Engineering and Computing, and Robert DelCampo, executive director of UNM’s Innovation Academy.

The West region will collaborate to launch and support startups through training, mentoring and programming throughout the West, bringing campus resources, talent and global networks, including relationships with accelerators and national labs, to support lean startups in their development.

The I-Corps Hubs will serve national needs through five areas of responsibility:

  • Creating and implementing tools, resources and training activities that enhance the nation's innovation capacity.
  • Identifying, developing and supporting promising research that can generate economic value.
  • 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.
  • Sharing and leveraging effective innovation practices on a national scale to improve quality of life throughout the nation.

The I-Corps Hubs form the new operational backbone of the National Innovation Network, a network of universities, NSF-funded researchers, established entrepreneurs, local and regional entrepreneurial communities, and other federal agencies that helps researchers learn how to translate fundamental research results to the marketplace. The Hubs will work collaboratively to build and sustain a diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem throughout the U.S.

Other institutions leading I-Corps Hubs are University of Michigan; University of Maryland, College Park; The City University of New York; and Princeton University.

The I-Corps program, established in 2011, is designed to support the commercialization of deep technologies, which grow from discoveries in fundamental science and engineering.