The University of Cincinnati will be a partner in an effort to accelerate the commercialization of research at Ohio’s universities through the creation of the I-Corps@Ohio program, modeled after a similar program launched by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2012. Ohio is the first to have a statewide collaboration based on the NSF model, but fully funded by the state.
The program was created by the Ohio Department of Higher Education, formerly known as the Ohio Board of Regents. Dorothy Air, PhD, UC associate vice president for entrepreneurial affairs and technology commercialization, will serve as the university’s representative on the I-Corps@Ohio governance committee.
"This program is specifically focused on market analysis. It offers an NSF-developed training program to help participants understand the issues and processes of commercialization and has a practical component in which participants put that information to work in the field with mentor guidance,” Air said.
The I-Corps@Ohio program utilizes the Lean Launchpad Business Model Canvas process, which establishes a mechanism for evaluating the market need and commercial potential of proposed technologies. At the conclusion of the technology commercialization training program, teams will be able to make market-based judgments on the potential fit of their technologies with customer needs and make informed decisions on whether to go forward with startup companies or other forms of technology commercialization. The I-Corps@Ohio program is planned to train 60 faculty teams during the next three years.
"This program is an additive and very complimentary program to our commercialization efforts,” Air said. "Our program is focused on developing a business and commercialization strategy, along with de-risking early stage technologies. This program takes participants through a deeper dive on market analysis, which is a part of a business plan.”
Although the State of Ohio ranks high in terms of university research, officials have said that the ranking in terms of commercializing the results of that research should be higher. Gov. John Kasich has identified research commercialization as a prime factor in sustaining job creation and has stressed to college and university presidents and boards of trustees that the issue must be among their top priorities. Implementation of an I-Corps@Ohio program is a key step in addressing the state’s commercialization challenges.
"I want to congratulate our participating universities for taking this first step toward better commercializing our research,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey. "This program builds upon the work that was put into our Condition Reports, and I look forward to seeing the results of their efforts.”
The NSF supports the proposal to create a Department of Higher Education-sponsored I-Corps@Ohio program and has committed non-monetary educational and technical assistance. The I-Corps@Ohio program has been reviewed and unanimously endorsed by all vice presidents of research at Ohio universities.
Air said there will be a call for proposals in the near future. Her office will provide further details as they are announced by the state.
Along with UC, the other collaborating Ohio academic institutions are the University of Akron, Lorain County Community College, Ohio State University, Ohio University and the University of Toledo.