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NSF I-Corps Hub established in Midwest; NDSU named lead institution

Justin Eiler

A five-year, $14M grant from the NSF will establish a Hub of seven partner institutions.

The National Science Foundation is establishing a Great Plains Innovation Hub as part of its I-Corps program, and naming North Dakota State University as the lead institution of that hub.

The Hub will consist of seven partner institutions from several other Midwestern states. The University of North Dakota, South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota are among them.

David Grewell and a professor at NDSU, and will serve as the director of the Great Plains I-Corps Hub.

"What we're doing is we're fast tracking all these great ideas that are coming out of these institutions, and putting them onto a very fast path from going from deep technology to commercialization. And it's over a ten-week program, and we'll have all these teams - consisting of a faculty member, typically a graduate student and an industry mentor. We'll give them the tools in a ten week time frame, so they'll be able to take all their ideas, all these deep technologies, and be able to turn it into a viable, commercialized product or idea."

Michael Kessler is dean of engineering at NDSU, as well as principal investigator on the program. He says the establishment of this I-Corps program in the Midwest is filling a void, and providing opportunity.

"Our region is one of the few areas, up to this point, that has never had any I-Corps nodes sites or Hubs specifically for I-Corps training. So one of the real advantages now is being able to offer this to our region, and it wasn't previously available."

The $14 million, five-year grant will begin early next year. Grewell says they’re hitting the ground running as soon as possible.

The I-Corps Program began in 2011.