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Polsky Teams with National Labs, NSF’s I-Corps to Support Midwest Deep Tech Ecosystem

The initiative is part of the NSF I-Corp program, which aims to empower scientists, researchers, and students to test the commercial potential of their research and ideas. (Image credit: iStock.com/berya113)

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has partnered with two of the Department of Energy’s Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs (LEEP) and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) I-Corps program to provide additional support for early-stage clean energy startups.

Under the agreement, researchers participating in Argonne National Laboratory’s entrepreneurship program, Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), and Innovation Crossroads (IC), a public-private partnership founded by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will receive funding to prepare for NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I grants.

The funding comes as part of new opportunities within the “SBIR Phase 0” award program – which provides reimbursement for early business startup expenses not covered by other funding sources. CRI and IC participants also will gain access to online education provided by the Polsky Center and Midwest I-Corps Node.

“This is a collaboration that enables the Polsky Center to continue to provide, and increase, educational programming and entrepreneurial training to CRI and now IC participants,” said Melissa Byrn, director of innovation programming at the Polsky Center, which will receive funding to create virtual educational content. “It also furthers our mission of providing deep tech entrepreneurship educational programming to regional partners.”

The initiative is part of the NSF I-Corp program, which uses education “to help researchers gain valuable insight into entrepreneurship, starting a business or industry requirements and challenges.” The Polsky Center launched its I-Corp programming in 2014 to empower UChicago scientists, researchers, and students to test the commercial potential of their research and ideas. The I-Corps program is specifically designed for participants working on projects related to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Midwest I-Corps Node to provide CRI and Innovation Crossroads entrepreneurs with world-class business training and support,” added Byrn, who also heads the I-Corp program at Polsky. “Together, our organizations are contributing critical resources and developing a strong deep tech ecosystem in the Midwest.”

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