The recurring theme at the 10th annual meeting of the NY I-Corps network, held on July 12 at CUNY’s Advanced Science Research Center was that NSF I-Corps is entering a new phase of growth and expansion. Participants gathered in person for the first time in two years, enjoying a full day of exchanging ideas, learning about resources, and being inspired.
Meeting highlights included a review of the impressive resources available to graduates of NY I-Corps, as well as presentations from recent I-Corps graduates working to reach the next level of development, and remarks from Ruth Shuman, program director, NSF I-Corps. Throughout the day, attendees had the opportunity to network and make connections that might help move I-Corps graduates along in their journey towards commercial success.
John Blaho, director of Industrial-Academic Research, opened the day by highlighting regional accomplishments: that the NY Hub is one of the highest producers of I-Corps teams in the country, that half of teams that participate in an I-Corps cohort go on to form companies, and that over the past decade, NY NSF I-Corps companies have raised $1.5 billion in follow-on funding. Dr. Blaho also addressed the increasing focus on life sciences among I-Corps participants and the growing resources in this area, reflecting a critical demand as well as increased interest in today’s post-Covid environment.
Conference attendees then got down to business, gaining an overview and insights about the institutions that comprise the NY I-Corps Hub and the resources available to I-Corps participants. Each of CUNY’s partners—NYU, Columbia, Stevens Technical Institute, Mt. Sinai, Rockefeller University, University at Albany, UMass Chan Medical School, and Stony Brook—described their institution’s I-Corps offerings, how they had evolved over time, and current areas of focus. Representatives of each institution discussed new opportunities for collaboration, such as opportunities for I-Corps participants to take classes across schools.
The next resources panel offered a compelling inside view of the incredibly rich resources potentially available to I-Corps graduates via accelerator programs. Speakers included Stacey Weismiller, director of client services at NYC ITAC Manufacturing & Technology Advisement, Cat Donaldson, PhD, executive director at LaunchLabs NYC, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., Marcia Mitchell, director at NY Ventures, and Dylan Crow, associate at SOSV / HAX. Each described compelling physical and business assets available to the startups they work with and offered examples of participant companies that had experienced success.
Eleven I-Corps teams then gave “lightning” presentations of just ninety seconds to share their concept, status, and plans. They included Nomi Materials, CUNY ASRC; Werewool, Columbia University; ViBILLER, NYU; SupreMEtric LLC, U. Albany; eWitness, CUNY John Jay; SES Labs, CUNY MEC; mPod, Cornell University; Nearabl, CUNY CCNY; RadioSight, Stevens Institute of Technology; Mechanismic Inc, Stony Brook University; and lelantos, Columbia University. The I-Corps graduates presented a broad range of concepts and ideas, from medical and diagnostic devices, to educational software, to eco-conscious consumer products.
The next resource panel offered an overview of the human, intellectual, and legal resources available through the NY I-Corps Hub partner institutions. Speakers included Joan Spivak, senior director, Life Sciences at Empire State Development; Jim Aloise, assistant vice president, Columbia Technology Ventures/tech to market director, Carbontech Development Initiative; Molly Zimmermann, managing director at NYS Science & Technology Law Center; and Marc Sedam, vice president, Technology Opportunities & Ventures, NYU Langone Health/New York University. They addressed the value of having a mentor as an entity moves from I-Corps participant to startup status and beyond and described the value of patent and intellectual property protections.
Keynote speaker Ruth Shuman, NSF I-Corps Director, spoke to attendees, as well as to a virtual audience of over 50 people joining via Zoom from 20 states, addressing how the I-Corps program has recently evolved to the hub model, and what’s next for the program. Shuman talked about how the next wave of development will bring the I-Corps approach and entrepreneurship to places where it has not been available before, such as smaller schools and geographic regions that can benefit from an entrepreneurial mindset.
The session closed with a final networking session, giving attendees the opportunity to further discuss ideas and reflect on the rich information shared. Links to all of the participating organizations and institutions are available below. We look forward to our next NY I-Corps network meeting in 2023!
New York I-Corps Hub Participating Organizations and Institutions:
Stevens Institute of Technology
Stony Brook University
University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School
University at Albany