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Krannert teams with three Midwest universities on $3.5M NSF grant to advance innovation and tech commercialization

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Aided by a grant of $3.5 million from The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps™), Purdue University, the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship (U-M CFE), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and University of Toledo are forming a partnership to support innovation and entrepreneurship across the Midwest.


To build on the $2.6 billion generated annually in research by these institutions, this newly established enterprise will be known as the Midwest I-Corps™ Node. The goal of the node is to form the backbone for a network that educates, supports and connects academic researchers to the entrepreneurial ecosystem spanning the region.


Professor Matthew Lynall from the Krannert School of Management is the principal investigator on the Purdue I-Corps site and a co-PI for the Midwest I-Corps™ Node along with Suresh Garimella, Purdue’s executive vice president for research and partnerships and the Goodson Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Nathalie Duval-Couetil, director of Purdue's Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, associate director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and an associate professor at Purdue Polytechnic.


“It is exciting to be a part of a network that is working to shift the culture of traditional academic research toward impact inspired research,” said Lynall. “Relative to the coasts, the Midwest has a low-density entrepreneurial ecosystem. This makes it even more important that we leverage our collective resources to be competitive.”


Garimella says that Purdue is highly respected for the quality and depth of its research, adding, “Purdue is eager and well positioned to advance the development of a national innovation ecosystem through the I-Corps Node. Our faculty have a keen sense of commitment to translate their discoveries into technologies or products that can benefit society and Purdue has invested in the resources to make that possible.” 


Pursuit of the NSF I-Corps site and node grants has been a joint initiative of the Krannert School, the Purdue Research Foundation, and the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.


David Hummels, Krannert dean and professor of economics, is excited by the interdisciplinary research opportunities and impact the NSF grant will provide to the University and school’s existing initiatives. “Our NSF I-Corps programs are key elements of Krannert’s commitment to helping students master the business of innovation and contribute to Purdue’s vibrant ecosystem for technology commercialization,” he said.


Dan Hasler, chief entrepreneurial officer and president at the Purdue Research Foundation, believes the grant is a testament to the commitment of University faculty and researchers. “Moving great ideas to impact is what we aspire to do at Purdue. This project will ensure their research benefits society and creates economic opportunity in Indiana and beyond.”


The Midwest I-Corps™ Node activates in January 2017 and will be funded for five years. In addition to hosting the National I-Corps™ program, Purdue, U-M CFE, and UIUC will each host regional programs in their respective states.


Ian Steff, executive vice president and chief innovation officer of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, also looks forward to the collaborative impact of the Midwest I-Corps™ Node. “Leveraging the resources of these outstanding research universities is of great benefit to Purdue and to the State of Indiana. This exciting program has a great deal of potential to support the Midwest’s ecosystem for entrepreneurship in further developing industries of the 21st century,” he says.


The National I-Corps™ program is a 7-week intensive course designed to get scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and examine the commercial potential of their technology to avoid building a product that no one wants – the number one reason startups fail. Since the creation of the program, over 800 teams from 192 universities in 44 states have completed the NSF curriculum. This has resulted in the creation of 320 companies that have collectively raised more than $83 million in follow-on funding.


For information on participating in Purdue’s 2017 regional I-Corps Node program on the West Lafayette campus, contact Professor Matthew Lynall, Krannert School of Management, at or visit