Courtesy of the National Science Foundation thru Michigan Technical University 11/12 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
For every brilliant discovery that finds its way into the marketplace, there are hundreds that never escape the pages of scientific journals. The National Science Foundation [NSF] is addressing that disconnect with its I-Corp program.
Mich Tech. Physics Professor Yoke Khin Yap is the first Michigan Technological University [MTU] faculty member to be part of an NSF I-Corps Team, along with post-doctoral researchers Dustin Winslow & John Diebel – who are Assistant Directors of Technology Commercialization, Innovation & Industry engagement. They are undertaking a six-month crash course in turning a scientific innovation into a business solution.
I-Corp. In the past two years, about 150 teams from across the nation have been accepted into I-Corps, an array of activities & programs that prepare scientists & engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory to heighten the impact of select, NSF-funded, basic-research projects. “I’m not really trying to be a business person,” says the Professor. “But it can be frustrating. You discover something, you publish a paper, you inspire people . . . and then what? I thought I-Corps could be a way to transform basic research into something beneficial for society.” The Professor is the team’s principal Investigator, serving as the Technical Lead & Project Manager. Researcher Diebel is the mentor, contributing Tech Transfer expertise. Researcher Winslow is the Lead Entrepreneur, exploring their project’s potential for “commercialization”.
The Project. The Team is investigating uses for high-quality boron nitride nanotubes [BNNTs] thr professor developed using a novel, high-yield process. BNNTs hold promise in a number of areas, including dissipating heat. Overheating can cause failure in electronics, including high-powered LEDs + hybrid & electric vehicles.
The Workshop. The team members recently participated in an intensive, three-day I-Corps workshop at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where they began to apply some basic lessons of entrepreneurship.
[ Lesson #1 – talk to Customers, How it Works, the I-Corp cirriculum, Validating the Market in Premium Content ]