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UC Merced NSF I-Corps Site

UC Merced NSF I-Corps Site

UC Merced has recently earned the honor of becoming an NSF I-Corps site and was awarded a five-year, $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support site activities.

As an NSF I-Corps site, the program will incubate 15 projects in its first year, with an additional five (5) teams each following year until a total of thirty (30) teams are participating in years 4 and 5 of the grant. Faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, post-docs, staff, alumni, and mentors are encouraged to apply to be part of this exciting program.

By becoming an NSF I-Corps site, the University's research and student communities can leverage the University of California, Merced’s existing commercialization infrastructure and established partnerships with the private sector, non-profit organizations, industry and entrepreneurial community in the region.

This award furthers the University's mission of catalyzing the commercialization of university discoveries, supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs, and bridging the gap between academia and the private sector. It also allows the University to significantly increase the number and quality of viable projects as well as the number of researchers that are exposed to the commercialization process. With targeted support from UC Merced I-Corps and the NSF, the researchers have a higher probability of taking their projects to the marketplace.

Selection Criteria 

Teams are selected based on team make-up and the origin and nature of the project.

I-Corps Site Teams

Teams formed under the auspices of an I-Corps Site should include an Entrepreneurial Lead (EL), an Academic Lead (AL), and a Business Mentor.

The Entrepreneurial Lead could be a postdoctoral scholar, graduate student, undergraduate or other student, or professional staff, with relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation. In rare circumstances, with the approval of a cognizant NSF I-Corps Program Officer, it also could be a faculty member. The EL should also be capable and have the will to support the transition of the technology, should the project demonstrate the potential for commercial viability.

The Business Mentor will typically be an experienced or emerging entrepreneur with proximity to the institution and experience in transitioning technology out of academic labs. The Mentor is a third-party resource and may be recommended by the proposing institution or may be an employee of the institution.The Mentor will be responsible for guiding the team forward and tracking progress.

The Academic Lead will be responsible for overall project management. The AL must have an academic appointment that would normally qualify the AL to submit proposals or play the role of a PI in subsequent submissions to NSF.

I-Corps Site Projects

Site team ideas or projects can originate from student work, research (funded or unfunded), institutional, or industrial projects. The topical focus of a project must be in an area(s) of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) normally supported by the National Science Foundation.

How to Join

Applications open four weeks before the application deadline. Check back often for access to the application link.

Important Dates:

Cohort 1

Application Deadline: August 4th

Start Date: September 5th

Application deadline has passed


Cohort 2

Application Deadline: August 18th

Start Date: September 18th

Apply here


Cohort 3

Application Deadline: September 1st

Start Date: October 2nd

Apply here


Cohort 4

Application Deadline: September 15th

Start Date: October 16th 

Apply Here 


For any questions please contact Cara Baird at

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