Research and Graduate Studies - Research

CSUN I-Corps

Do you have an innovation or technology that you think is ready for market?

Are you interested in customer discovery around your innovation?

Are you ready to commercialize your innovation?

Are you interested in participating in the CSUN I-Corps Site Program?

California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has been at the forefront of promoting entrepreneurship and innovation through Cii, its on-campus incubator, and student competitions like Appjam, Varjam and the Bull Ring. To strengthen these efforts, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has recently awarded CSUN with a grant as part of its Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Program to support commercialization of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) innovations and entrepreneurship activities at CSUN. Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) is supporting a parallel program for non-STEM innovations.

The federally funded I-Corps grant will provide as many as 30 teams with up to $3,000 each to explore an idea, product or service in the STEM fields to determine its viability on the commercial market. The teams consist of 1) an entrepreneurial lead – typically a student or postdoctoral fellow, 2) an academic lead– typically a staff or faculty member, and 3) an industry mentor, who can be a non-CSUN affiliate.  This new CSUN I-Corps Site Program will prepare teams to take their innovation to the next level such as formation of a start-up company and/or additional follow-on funding from a variety of sources.  I-Corps teams are also eligible to compete for a national NSF I-Corps Grant for $50,000 toward commercialization of their research/invention/technology.

Part of the program will include an I-Corps Site short course over the Fall semester that introduces participants to the key concepts and methodologies used in I-Corps, which is the rigorous market assessment and validation program pioneered by the NSF.  I-Corps Site teams will receive up to $3,000 to support their customer discovery efforts, and teams that successfully complete this short course will be eligible to apply for the National NSF I-Corps program.

Team Selection Criteria

  • Applicants do NOT need previous commercialization experience, a developed venture concept, or any protected intellectual property in hand. The short course is designed specifically for curious researchers and nascent academic entrepreneurs.
  • Teams that do not have an Academic Lead or an Industry Mentor will be assisted with finding these team members.
  • Teams will be selected based on a complete online application received by the deadline. Applicants will be notified of selection decisions by email. We expect to fund up to 10 teams per semester.
  • If you have questions about this program, your eligibility, the application, or the selection process, contact Research and Graduate Studies at

Team Registration Process

Please send an email to if you wish to register your team. All information is required. 

  • Project or Company name
  • List all team member names and include their CSUN email address and campus affiliation for each. If the team member is not a CSUN student please include their personal email.
  • A brief description of your innovation, and/or the problem you are solving or trying to solve, and who your customer is.
  • Cell phone number for team leader

*If you are adding/removing a team member or changing your team name, please send an email to requesting any applicable changes. 



I-Corps FALL 2019 Semester Timeline

Before October 9th:

Complete the I-Corps Registration process by doing the following:

Email with the information below.


  1. The problem you are trying to solve with description of your proposed solution
  2. Team member(s) first and last name with CSUN emails
  3. Cell #
  4. Team name

 RSVP to the Lunch & Lunch held on Wednesday, October 9th here.


View 2 min video on Business Model Canvas:


Populate the Business Model Canvas for your team and email to  by October 23rd COB.


October 24th 10am-2pm: ZAP Session 1 USU-TBD

Teams will introduce themselves and their Business Model Canvas

Instructor led sessions on Intro to Value Proposition and Customer Discovery


October 31st 10am-2pm: ZAP Session 2 USU-TBD

Team presentations on Value Proposition and Customer Discovery.  Teams are required to have completed at least 5 customer interviews since ZAP Session 1.  


Late October-December: online POP Canvas Program becomes available 


-complete online video coursework (Total course time: ~3.5 hrs)

-complete at least 20 additional customer interviews

-are eligible for up to $3,000 to be used for customer discovery

-have access to a mentor network


3 Month Check-InTeam Presentations – January 2020 Location: TBD. 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.

Teams are then ready for the next phase.  This may include:

- entering Cii, the campus incubator, or the new campus accelerator

- entering the LACI Incubator

- applying for I-Corps National Program and up to $50,000 in funds

- applying for additional grant funding, such as NSF SBIR grants


6 Month Check-In: Team Presentations- May 2020


9 Month Check-In: Team Presentations- October 2020