Skip to content Skip to navigation

UC Merced NSF I-Corps Site

UC Merced NSF I-Corps Site


UC Merced 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 teams each subsequent year until a total of 30 teams are participating in years four and five of the grant. Faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, postdocs, 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 UC Merced’s existing commercialization infrastructure and established partnerships with the private sector, non-profit organizations, industry and the 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, 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 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), or institutional or industrial projects. The topical focus of a project must be in an area of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) normally supported by the National Science Foundation. Typical industries of focus can include the below:

  • Advanced Manufacturing and Nanotechnology
  • Advanced Materials and Instrumentation
  • Biological Technologies
  • Biomedical Technologies
  • Chemical and Environmental Technologies
  • Educational Technologies and Applications
  • Electronic Hardware, Robotics and Wireless Technologies
  • Internet of Things
  • Information Technologies
  • Semiconductors and Photonic Devices and Materials
  • Smart Health

How to Join

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

Cohort 4 

Deadline to Apply: August 11th, 2018 


For any questions, please email us at


Sign up here to receive news and updates