ASU awarded lead of new National Science Foundation I-Corps Hub

The U.S. National Science Foundation has announced the addition of five new NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Hubs to its National Innovation Network. Arizona State University is the lead institution for one of the new hubs: the Desert and Pacific region.

The other universities joining the Desert and Pacific Hub are: the University of Arizona; Northern Arizona University; the University of California, San Diego; the University of Hawaii; Boise State University; the University of Idaho; and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“We are honored to take a leadership role to convene and collaborate with the outstanding universities in the Desert and Pacific of the NSF National Innovation Network,” said Executive Vice President and University Provost Nancy Gonzales, who serves as principal investigator on the I-Corps Hub grant.  

“One of the ASU Charter principles is to advance research and discovery of public value. Our work in this I-Corps Hub will help us accelerate this mission by taking the incredible innovations and solutions that our faculty members produce and translating them into entrepreneurial ventures that will create jobs and deliver solutions that benefit the state, our nation and our globe.”

Ann McKenna, vice dean of strategic advancement and a professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, will serve as a co-principal investigator and research and evaluation lead; Zachary Holman, associate professor in the Fulton Schools of Engineering, will serve as a co-principal investigator and faculty lead; and Ji Mi Choi, vice president of ASU Knowledge Enterprise and founding executive director of the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, will serve as the Desert and Pacific Hub director.

Established in 2011, the I-Corps program is designed to support the commercialization of deep technologies. Approximately 2,800 NSF I-Corps teams have participated in the program, including ASU, which was previously named an I-Corps Site.

Examples of ASU technologies that have advanced through the I-Corps program include AI-powered traffic cameras and a virtual lab platform for computing research and education.

“Through the ASU I-Corps Site, we have been able to support the participation of nearly 200 I-Corps teams, and we are looking forward to supporting even more teams across our institutions and regions to exponentially grow the impact of use-inspired research,” said Choi, who served as a principal investigator of ASU’s I-Corps Site. 

“This is a significant complement to the suite of resources, service and support we have to support university-driven innovation and entrepreneurship for societal benefit.”

This new designation will expand the scope and scale of economic and entrepreneurial output. Each I-Corps Hub comprises a regional alliance of at least eight universities and is funded up to $3 million per year for five years.

“Each regional I-Corps Hub provides training essential in entrepreneurship and customer discovery, leading to new products, startups and jobs,” said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for technology, innovation and partnerships. 

The first five I-Corps Hubs were awarded in 2021, and each is expanding its reach this year by adding a new partner institution.

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