NSF Awards $3.7 Million for Research-to-Marketplace Initiative

(CUNY Newswire)  In a move designed to fast-track research to the marketplace, the National Science Foundationhas awarded a three-year $3.74 million grant to a collaboration between The City University of New York, Columbia University and New York University.

Known as the NSF I-Corps New York City Regional Innovation Node, or NYCRIN, the new entity will form a network  implementing a groundbreaking curriculum and program aimed at developing scientific and engineering discoveries into economically viable products and startup ventures.

I-Corps is a set of activities and programs that prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and broaden the impact of NSF-funded, basic-research projects.

Leveraging the rapidly growing startup ecosystem in and around New York City, NYCRIN will provide training to academic scientists and technologists to foster entrepreneurship leading to the commercialization of technology that has been supported previously by NSF-funded research. Building on the success of I-Corps nodes run at Stanford University, Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan, the approach to entrepreneurship uses best of breed techniques developed to validate each commercial opportunity in a recognized, effective way: customer and business model development.

Dr. Gillian Small, CUNY’s vice chancellor for research and the executive director of the Advanced Science Research Center, is the principal investigator  for the grant. The co-investigators are: John Blaho, Director for Industrial-Academic Research at The City University; Kurt Becker, Associate Provost for Research & Technology Initiatives, Polytechnic Institute of New York University; and Chris Wiggins, Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University.

“NYCRIN is dedicated to teaching technology entrepreneurship and performing research that advances this endeavor,” said Vice Chancellor Small. “Its aim is to become a global leader in technology innovation and entrepreneurial business development by leveraging the existing innovation ecosystem in New York City, which meshes perfectly with other current initiatives aimed towards building research and entrepreneurship at CUNY.”

The NYCRIN team is composed of accomplished entrepreneurial innovators from CUNY, Columbia, and NYU, complemented  by experienced venture capitalists, angel investors and entrepreneurs from the local startup community. The NYCRIN network encompasses 21 leading research universities in the NY, NJ, CT and PA regions.
The NYCRIN Node will also provide state-of-the-art lecture and digital learning resources and will host biannual I-Corps team training events. NYCRIN will be active year-round, offering educational and networking services to all regional technology start-up entities as part of its long-term strategy to become the leading global center for research, development and education in innovative technology-business development methodologies.

Paul Horn, Senior Vice Provost at NYU, stated: “NYCRIN builds upon established technology development collaborations in fundamental research at NYU, CUNY and Columbia. It will provide innovators throughout the U.S. with access to the unique resources available in the New York City region, including world-class research universities, venture capital and angel investors, and the nation’s fastest growing technology startup economy.”

New York City’s startup ecosystem is a leading hub of venture capital investment in the nation. Entrepreneurs and investors experienced in building companies quickly — along with top engineering and technology savvy graduates — are flocking to the city from around the country to invest their time and capital in new technology-driven companies.

“We are very excited about playing a key role on the innovative team at NYCRIN,” said Donald Goldfarb, Interim Dean of The Fu Foundation School of  Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University. “With the NYCRIN path-breaking open source quantitative tools that foster ‘learning by doing,’ we will be able to leverage the work of our Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering and the entrepreneurial environment of New York City ”

New York City’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem evolved from strategic investments in innovation and entrepreneurship by academic, governmental, and private entities including NYU/CUNY’s and Columbia’s successes in the recent mayoral competition to found new applied science campuses in the city.

NYCRIN will also serve as the repository for all data and outcomes for technology innovation in the region. It is anticipated that research and execution of novel models based on these data will enable NYCRIN to effect change in how entrepreneurship is performed throughout the U.S. and around the world.

The $3.74 million grant to CUNY, in collaboration with NYU and Columbia University, is one of three NSF awards, totaling $11,239,921, to three university consortia which will act as I-Corps “nodes” to support regional needs for innovation education, infrastructure and research. The other two university consortia are: The I-Corps Node: NSF Bay Area Regional I-Node Program at the University of California, Berkeley in collaboration with University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University; and The I-Corps Node: DC, Maryland, Virginia Region at the University of Maryland in collaboration with George Washington University and Virginia Tech.

“These new nodes will significantly expand our reach in bringing innovation education to faculty and students,” said NSF Program Director Don Millard. “The three consortia, with different and distinct industries in their region, are excited about the impact they will have, on and beyond their campuses. The addition of these nodes will significantly help advance the I-Corps program’s National Innovation Network.”

“The nodes are the foundation of a national innovation ecosystem and focus on the front-lines of local and regional commercialization efforts. We are looking to them to provide long-term, critical education infrastructure and feedback to the programs that support the commercialization of our nation’s basic research portfolio,” said Errol Arkilic NSF I-Corps program director.