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Turning scientific advancements into societal benefits

UND teams with six other universities to offer commercialization training

UND archival photo.

The National Science Foundation has selected a consortium of eight universities in the Great Plains region to implement a 5-year, $14 million program to provide training to scientists and engineers using the NSF I-Corps curriculum. This curriculum is a proven methodology that provides immersive, entrepreneurial training for scientists and engineers with the goal of moving ideas to commercialization.

Amy Whitney

Joining UND in forming the Great Plains Region Hub are North Dakota State University (the lead institution), South Dakota State University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., the University of South Dakota, the University of Wyoming, and the University of Nebraska Omaha.

In addition to serving as one of the eight training sites in the Hub, UND is providing the HUB’s lead instructor, Amy Whitney, director of the UND Center for Innovation and a leader who has worked as a Great Lakes Region I-Corps-certified regional trainer. At UND, invention occurs in every college, and training cohorts are anticipated from all areas across campus.

The Center for Innovation has been involved in the I-Corps program for three years, working through the Great Lakes Region Hub hosted by the University of Michigan.

“Having an I-Corps hub with closer regional ties will increase the impact of this training program for UND, North Dakota, and our entire region,” said Whitney. “The I-Corps program dovetails nicely with our Center’s mission to advance innovative ideas and facilitate technological development.

“The NSF I-Corps Great Plains Region Hub will create a local, university-based network of innovators. Then in collaboration with regional entrepreneurs and businesspeople serving as team mentors, we can use the well-established I-Corps training principles to develop a Great Plains inventor network, which will also become part of I-Corps’ National Innovation Network,” Whitney continued.

Brian Tande
Brian Tande

The NSF’s I-Corps program began in 2011 with the goal of training an entrepreneurial workforce capable of bringing cutting-edge technologies quickly to market while nurturing an innovation ecosystem. The program’s two-month training is experiential and immersive and helps scientists extend their focus beyond the university laboratory, thereby accelerating the economic and societal benefits of their research projects.

Brian Tande, dean of the UND College of Engineering & Mines, was chosen by UND’s Vice President for Research and Economic Development John Mihelich to serve as the UND Administrative Lead for the program. “This grant aligns nicely with UND’s mission to conduct impactful research,” Tande said.

“We will be reaching out across the campus to invite participation in these training events. With at least 20 teams for each of the next five years, there should be time for everyone who wants to go through the training to participate.”