Four NYU teams have each been awarded $50,000 Innovation Corps grants by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help move their research from the lab into the marketplace.

Image: National Science Foundation logo
Four NYU teams have each been awarded $50,000 Innovation Corps grants by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help move their research from the lab into the marketplace.

The NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) is a federally funded program that teaches best practices in entrepreneurship to scientists, engineers, and researchers to speed commercialization of their research. The NSF grants will enable the four NYU teams to participate in the I-Corps training program.

I-Corps fosters entrepreneurship by accelerating the commercialization of intellectual property generated by NSF-funded research. Under the program, teams of scientists and engineers receive $50,000 NSF grants and are then guided by experienced entrepreneurs and investors in techniques to validate the commercial opportunities of each emerging technology in a recognized, effective way—that is, through customer and business model development. In this way, entrepreneurs gain valuable market feedback before they build and launch their products and services. The goal is to help I-Corps participants create startups that have the potential for broader applicability and impact in the commercial world.

“These grants to the four NYU teams demonstrate the impressive growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and culture across the University,” said Frank Rimalovski, executive director of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute and an instructor in the NSF I-Corps program. “NYU has embraced the I-Corps teaching methodology to help faculty, researchers, and our students develop their ideas and inventions into commercially viable startups. The NSF I-Corps program is a critical resource to help advance science and innovation from the lab to the marketplace in ways that will ultimately benefit our economy and society at large.”

The I-Corps teaching method is based on the Lean LaunchPad class originally developed by serial entrepreneur Steve Blank at Stanford and UC Berkeley. In 2013, NYU partnered with the City University of New York (CUNY) and Columbia University to win a $3.74 million NSF grant to develop the NYC Regional Innovation Node (NYCRIN) that teaches and promote the I-Corps program in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut-Pennsylvania region.

“NYCRIN provides academic inventors with access to unique resources in New York City, including venture capital, angel investors, and the fastest growing technology startup community,” said Kurt Becker, vice dean for academic affairs at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and NYCRIN co-principal investigator.

The four NYU teams awarded NSF I-Corps grants include:

• Research Associate Professor Briana Barocas of the Silver School of Social Work and director of research at the NYU Center on Violence and Recovery, plans to develop and launch a domestic violence digital knowledge bank that will promote innovation in the implementation and service provision of treatment programs throughout the United States based on her research with Linda G. Mills, Lisa Ellen Goldberg Professor and executive director of the Center on Violence and Recovery. Other team members include Jade Borgeson (Abu Dhabi ’14), research fellow at the Center on Violence and Recovery, and Cosmo Fujiyama (Wagner ’13), program director at the Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania.

• Associate Professor S. Alexander Ruthmann in NYU Steinhardt’s Music Education and Technology program, plans to develop tools, toys, and games for children, families, and teachers to stimulate learning through creative musical play. Other team members include Eric Rosenbaum, a recent doctorate candidate at the MIT Media Lab, and Erica Gruen, an entrepreneur in television, advertising, and digital media.

• Professor David J. Heeger of psychology and neural science and Neural Science Professor André Fenton plan to develop products to help parents chart and assess the quality of their baby’s sleep, which could help improve sleep quality and identify early signs of dysfunction or developmental problems. Other team members include Research Assistant Professor Elisha P. Merriam in the NYU Center for Neural Science, and Dee N. Dao, venture associate at the NYU Innovation Venture Fund.

• Tammy Kwan (Stern '15) plans to develop rigorously tested educational apps to help parents give their children better tools to promote and potentially accelerate cognitive development. Other team members include Brenden Lake, a Moore-Sloan Data Science Fellow at NYU’s Center for Data Science, and Jennifer van der Meer, an Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and CEO of Reason Street.

About the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute
The NYU Entrepreneurial Institute helps startups start up. It leads a university-wide initiative to accelerate the pace of technology commercialization and the launch of successful startups founded by NYU’s 60,000 students, faculty, and researchers. The Institute's team of startup experts and thought leaders offers educational programming, events, resources, and funding, via the NYU Innovation Venture Fund, to inspire, educate, connect, and accelerate entrepreneurs across NYU.

About the New York City Regional Innovation Node (NYCRIN)
The New York City Regional Innovation Node (NYCRIN) is a network of 25 leading universities in the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania area designed to support regional needs for innovation education, infrastructure, and research by providing state-of-the-art training for academic researchers and technologists through the National Science Foundation I-Corps program (Grant Number 1305023). NYCRIN works cooperatively to build, utilize, and sustain a national innovation ecosystem that further enhances the development of technologies, products and processes that benefit society.

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