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A key barrier to translation of biomedical research discoveries is a lack of understanding among scientists regarding the complexity and process of implementation. To address this challenge, the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps™ (I-Corps™) program trains researchers in entrepreneurship. We report results from the implementation of an I-Corps™ training program aimed at biomedical scientists from institutions funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).
National/regional instructors delivered 5-week I-Corps@NCATS short courses to 62 teams (150 individuals) across six institutions. Content included customer discovery, value proposition, and validating needs. Teams interviewed real-life customers and presented the value of innovations for specific end-users weekly, culminating in a “Finale” featuring their refined business thesis and business model canvas. Methodology was developed to evaluate the newly adapted program. National mixed-methods evaluation assessed program implementation, reach, effectiveness using observations of training delivery and surveys at Finale (n = 55 teams), and 3–12 months post-training (n = 34 teams).
Innovations related to medical devices (33%), drugs/biologics (20%), software applications (16%), and diagnostics (8%). An average of 24 interviews was conducted. Teams reported increased readiness for commercialization over time (83%, 9 months; 14%, 3 months). Thirty-nine percent met with institutional technology transfer to pursue licensing/patents and 24% pursued venture capital/investor funding following the short courses.
I-Corps@NCATS training provided the NCATS teams a rigorous and repeatable process to aid development of a business model based on customer needs. Outcomes of this pilot program support the expansion of I-Corps™ training to biomedical scientists for accelerating research translation.
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