UD and DSU join Innovation Corps, a start-up business hub


Delaware State University and the University of Delaware are now  affiliated with the northeast hub of Innovation Corps – commonly known as “I-Corps.”

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the I-Corps Northeast Hub is led by Princeton University and partner institutions Rutgers University and the University of Delaware.

Delaware  State University joined the hub as an affiliate institution, along with Lehigh University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University, and Temple University.

The I-Corps Northeast Hub will receive $15 million over the next five years supporting its work.

The mission of I-Corps is to accelerate the economic impact of federally funded research – delivering benefits in health care, energy and the environment, computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced materials, and other areas – while building skills and opportunities among researchers from all backgrounds, including those historically underrepresented in entrepreneurship.

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.

“The University of Delaware has a deep commitment to groundbreaking research and a successful history of moving those discoveries out of our labs to fuel the creation of businesses and other ventures, so we are thrilled to be a partner in the NSF I-Corps Northeast Hub,” said UD President Dennis Assanis. “This initiative will also open doors of opportunity for historically underrepresented researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs.”

DSU  President Tony Allen said the university’s affiliation with I-Corps is a promising development. “The future of higher education in America depends heavily on our ability to become centers of innovation that not only conduct significant research but transform that research into deep technology ventures that have lasting impact on the nation’s most critical challenges,” Dr. Allen said. “As one of the first Historically Black Colleges or Universities within I-Corps, we are especially gratified to be able to use this opportunity to open up more opportunities for students of color across the region.”

“Partnership in the NSF I-Corp Hub will exponentially accelerate the innovative and cutting-edge research and exploration that is currently occurring on DSU’s campus,” said Dr. Michael Casson Jr., Dean of the Delaware State’s  College of Business and Del State’s Faculty Lead in the I-Corps NE Hub. “Moreover, the Hub will supply valued and critical assets to DSU’s entrepreneurial ecosystem that will lead to a fluid continuum of services for our community of innovators.”

Professor Julius Korley, inaugural director of entrepreneurship and strategic partnerships in the UD College of Engineering, will serve as co-director of the hub. Professor Dan Freeman, founding director of UD’s  Horn Entrepreneurship initiative, will serve as faculty lead for UD. Horn Entrepreneurship will lead UD’s activities in the hub.

“The experience and dedication of professors Korley and Freeman, as well as the resources of Horn Entrepreneurship, will help ensure the success of the I-Corps Northeast Hub in connecting our diverse community of innovators with others throughout the region to benefit our entire economy and society,” UD President Assanis said.

The I-Corps approach is based on the “lean startup” methodology in which innovators rapidly iterate on their products and business plans — refocusing, refining, and improving them — based on customer feedback and market needs, Korley of UD said.

“Instead of making assumptions, you have to get out of the lab and determine if there is a market for your invention by talking to customers, the eventual end-users,” Korley said. “I-Corps helps you turn the ‘unknowns’ into ‘knowns.’”

The NSF established the I-Corps program in 2011, and the initiative’s success has led to its expansion into five I-Corp hub regions – the Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, New York, West, along with the Northeast.


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