The Washington, D.C., innovation and entrepreneurship hub includes GW and three other universities.
The National Science Foundation has awarded $3.45 million over the next five years to renew its Innovation Corps program D.C.-area node to support entrepreneurship. George Washington University works alongside three additional collaborating institutions to train entrepreneurial student and faculty researchers and help them bring their discoveries to market.
The innovation hubs, known as I-Corps nodes, provide research infrastructure and training that help researchers transition fundamental science and engineering discoveries to the marketplace, according to NSF. The nodes also support I-Corps sites nationwide and offer seven-week I-Corps curriculum to their teams.
GW is a member of the D.C. regional node, along with Virginia Tech, Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland, College Park, which is the lead university. The I-Corps program is housed under the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship within the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Through DC I-Corps, GW has worked to identify inventions that have potential to be commercially marketable in the short-term. The program amplifies the impact of research by giving investigators the tools they need to refine their discoveries and succeed in the marketplace, said Vice President for Research Leo M. Chalupa.
“GW’s culture of innovation and commitment to technology commercialization and venture creation makes it a natural partner institution for the D.C.-area node,” Dr. Chalupa said. “The renewal of this NSF grant demonstrates the measurable and continuing success of the DC I-Corps program.”
More than 5,500 people have participated in the DC I-Corps program at all levels, including 3,058 at the university level. Of the 1,031 teams trained, 45 university faculty teams from the DMV region have gone on to national I-Corps including six from GW.
Thirty-three GW faculty, students and postdoctoral fellows have received direct training at all levels of the program since the node was formed, said Associate Vice President for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Jim Chung.
“The DC I-Corps Node has been critical for building the infrastructure and resources for supporting innovation and entrepreneurship at GW,” said Mr. Chung, who also is co-principal investigator for the DC I-Corps.
Over the next five years the DC I-Corps plans to expand implementation of the short course format to different diverse and geographically located groups, Mr. Chung said. The node plans to launch a veterans-only cohort and to focus on connecting with researchers who have not previously received NSF funding, but would be eligible for $50,000 in national I-Corps funding by taking the DC I-Corps short course.
Nodes in the upstate New York area, Bay area, Midwest and South also received five years of funding between $3.4 million and $4.2 million. The D.C. node was first funded in 2013.
I-Corps nodes support the national innovation ecosystem and help America's brightest researchers test the commercial potential of their discoveries, said Grace Wang, acting assistant director for NSF's Engineering Directorate.
"We are thrilled to support these regional innovation hotbeds, which will help to foster local economic development and expand access to more researchers of all different backgrounds who seek entrepreneurship training,” she said.