Intro to Lean Startup: NSF I-Corps Method trains faculty, researchers and students in commercializing university research, while building the connective tissue for deeper, more impactful public-private networks.

Through free online classes offered monthly, teams learn the basics of customer discovery and apply them immediately  to “get out of the building” and interview 15 potential customers. Eligible teams may then apply to the National I-Corps program that includes a $50k grant for customer discovery activities.

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Technology commercialization is about making a series of choices.  What problem does the technology solve? Who is the customer and why do they care?

Intro to Lean Startup: NSF I-Corps Method is based on Lean Launchpad, applying the scientific method to business. I-Corps teaches the basics of Customer Discovery – how to conduct interviews in order to validate who your top customer is and why – so that you make the right choices for your technology.

Learn about one UC Berkeley team’s journey through the process in this two minute “Lessons Learned” video at the end of their National I-Corps experience in August, 2018.

Click here to find the outcome of their story in August, 2020. 

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The I-Corps training is focused on helping early-stage teams who have a fundamental technology, engineering, or business model innovation learn how to search for a scalable business model through the Customer Discovery process.

There are two types of I-Corps training, both based on our National Faculty Director, Steve Blank’s Lean Startup methods.

The Intro to Lean Startup: NSF I-Corps Method course, taught by UC Berkeley faculty, is a free 1 week program where you’ll learn how to conduct interviews to gain customer feedback and define your customer segment.

NSF I-Corps Method course teams must have between 2-4 members, and the technology must have a current or recent University or National lab connection.

As part of UC Berkeley’s ongoing commitment to entrepreneurship, UC Berkeley postdocs who successfully complete the 1 week NSF I-Corps Method course can receive up to a $5,000 grant from PostX, and UC Berkeley PhD students can receive up to a $5,000 grant from PhDX.

After you complete the short course, you may be eligible to continue to the National I-Corps Program, a 7 week course that comes with a $50,000 customer discovery grant.

NSF I-corps Method Short Course


3hr sessions held Mon – Wed – Mon

15 customer interviews

Within a 1 week period


Upon completion and recommendation

APPLY below for the next Intro to Lean Startup: NSF I-Corps Method Short Course starting February 28, 2022 online via Zoom.

In February, we are excited to offer a second training happening at the same time, tailored to food related teams. Eligible teams who complete this course will be able to participate in the NorCal SBDC Restaurant Program, which includes resources such as one-on-one advising and a 10-week food business startup accelerator. 

The application for both courses is below, and is due February 11, 2022

Apply here

Please fill out the application in entirety. If you have any questions about the application, use the Contact Form at the bottom of the site.

2022 planned start dates:

Winter SpringSummer Fall
Jan 24Apr 25Jul 18Oct 17
Feb 28May 16Aug 15Nov 14
Mar 21 Jun 6Sep 12Dec 5

Short Course Program Team Eligibility

2-4 people

Business and Technical Lead (Mentor optional)

20 – 40 hours

Commitment during program week


Of all 3 sessions

Teams Must:

  • Be open to learning through the Customer Discovery process
  • Be willing to fail or succeed as a team.
  • Have a high tolerance for uncertainty
  • Able to describe the customer value proposition without revealing IP

National Course

(for current NSF grantees or NSF I-Corps Method Short Course completion + recommendation)

$ 50k Grant

Non dilutive grants for customer discover activities

Flexible Cohorts

Rotating App + courses around the year

Boot camps

3+2 days at beginning + end of course

Video Sessions

5 bi-weekly sessions between bootcamps

More info & schedule here: I-Corps Curriculum

Benefits of both courses include learning techniques for using Customer Discovery and the Customer Development process to rapidly evaluate the business potential of technologies and ideas.  Teams should reach a go/no go decision by the end of either course. Course structures also facilitate personal connections to the faculty, mentors and other team members in the program.

Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Please contact Dave Weiner via email –

Case Study

UCB PhD Eric Munsing shares his experience with NSF I-Corps Method training here.

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If you have questions about I-Corps, the application, or have any comments, please fill out the form below:

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August I-Corps @ UC Berkeley: Wrap Up

Wrapped August I-Corps with incredible teams working on high impact projects, relevant for right now. 💪 Two University of California, Berkeley postdocs through the PostX program conducted 16 interviews during the week for their Wildfire Urban Interface (WUI) evac planning solution. Team WUIgo invalidated their initial hypos around who the customer would be. After mapping out the … Continue reading August I-Corps @ UC Berkeley: Wrap Up

1st 150 National I-Corps Teams: Longitudinal Study Key Findings

Check out a 5-min video abstract, with Steve Blank (!), summarizing research on WHY learning/applying Lean Startup methodology is superior to advising models, listening to founder war stories, focusing solely on mindset, etc. 3 key findings from this longitudinal study of the first 150 National Science Foundation (NSF) #ICorps teams. The research was funded by our very … Continue reading 1st 150 National I-Corps Teams: Longitudinal Study Key Findings

National Team Intropic Materials in UC LAUNCH

Meet the UC LAUNCH Accelerator Spring 21 cohort teams! Aaron Hall founded Intropic Materials while finishing his PhD in Materials Science & Engineering at UC Berkeley. Intropic is developing high performance self-degrading plastics that last exactly as long as they are needed. Learn more about their journey through last Fall’s NSF I-Corps National program and … Continue reading National Team Intropic Materials in UC LAUNCH


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