Maryam Elfeki, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab

The NSF I-Corps Northeast Hub has launched, and applications are now open for its inaugural innovation training program for researchers

Maryam Elfeki, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry at Princeton University, is developing a technology for rapidly identifying new antibiotics and new antiviral drugs as part of the startup company Cryptyx Bioscience in collaboration with Professor of Chemistry Mohammad “Mo” Seyedsayamdost. Princeton is the lead institution in the new Innovation-Corps (I-Corps) Northeast Hub funded by the National Science Foundation to foster the transition of university research into products and services that benefit society.

Aiming to propel discoveries made in university labs into everyday life, the new NSF I-Corps Northeast Hub launched this week and announced that applications are open for its first researcher training program. The 4-week program, in which researchers confront the challenges of creating successful startups and entrepreneurial ventures based on scientific and technological discoveries, kicks off Feb. 28 and runs through March 23 online. 

A Princeton-led consortium funded with a 5-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the I-Corps Hub Northeast Region brings together an initial eight of the region’s top universities to deliver the NSF’s signature I-Corps educational experience, which introduces science and technology researchers to tasks more familiar to business school students, such as interviewing potential customers to discover if a technology will meet users’ needs.

The Hub’s principal institution is Princeton University, with Rutgers University and the University of Delaware as partner institutions. Its initial affiliates are Rowan University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology in New Jersey, Lehigh University and Temple University in Pennsylvania, and Delaware State University. The Hub will expand each year to add new affiliate universities.

Participants attend the course in small teams that may include faculty members, postdoctoral and staff researchers, and graduate and undergraduate students from the lab associated with the technology being explored. Each team is partnered with an experienced mentor who helps the researchers navigate the process. 

The Hub’s instructors employ the NSF I-Corps training approach, which for more than a decade has been preparing researchers to form startups and transition their research into the public sphere where it can benefit everyday lives. 

Through its programs, the Hub will build skills and opportunities among researchers from around the Northeast region and from all backgrounds, including those historically underrepresented in entrepreneurship. Participants do not need to belong to the Hub institutions to attend the 4-week course. 

“It is exciting to see the launch of the Hub, which will have a positive impact on the regional innovation ecosystem,” said Princeton University Vice Dean for Research Rodney Priestley. Priestley, the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, is co-director of the Hub.

“The interest in innovation among university faculty, research staff and students has really spiked in recent years, and shows no sign of abating,” said Julius Korley, director of entrepreneurship and strategic partnerships for the College of Engineering at the University of Delaware, and Hub co-director. “This is a great addition to this region of the country.”

Teams must apply for the program, and those selected are eligible for up to $3,000 in funds with which to conduct customer discovery research. Upon completion, the squads are eligible to apply to the NSF I-Corps Teams program, which includes a $50,000 grant for customer and industry discovery research.

Teams can learn how to apply for the 4-week Regional Program at the I-Corps Northeast Hub website.  Applications are open to researchers affiliated at any university or institution. The program runs online 1-4 p.m. on Feb. 28, March 2, March 9 and March 23. Applications are due Jan. 31.

Visit to apply or register to attend an online information session to be held Friday, Jan. 14, at 2 p.m.

The NSF I-Corps Northeast Hub is sponsored by grant #NSF 2048602.