Webster Introduces Bill to Encourage Innovation and Create Jobs 

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Daniel Webster (FL-11) and Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) introduced the Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act of 2018. This bill expands the proven, successful Innovation Corps program. The Innovation Corps program, known as I-Corps, was created by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2011 to teach scientists and engineers how to turn their laboratory innovations into successful commercial products and services. 

“I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan measure with my friend Rep. Dan Lipinski,” said Rep. Webster.  “The Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act expands on the time-tested I-Corps program through adding a course for commercialization-ready participants.  The course will focus on the essential skills of starting a successful and scalable business.  The NSF’s I-Corps program will bridge the divide between the academic world and commercialization sphere, playing a critical role in the efforts to increase innovation for all Americans.”  

The centerpiece of the program is the I-Corps Teams course, a seven-week sequence focused on identifying marketable uses for new technologies in which participants conduct 100 interviews with potential customers. The course is based on the highly successful Lean Launchpad curriculum developed by innovator Steve Blank and widely used throughout Silicon Valley and beyond.  Since its inception, over 1,000 teams have participated in I-Corps. 

“The federal government invests a lot of money in research and development annually,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “I-Corps is a modest investment that leads to a big return on federally-funded research by significantly increasing rates of research commercialization, economic activity, and job creation.  Just as the creation of the I-Corps program addressed an unmet need and helped scientist-entrepreneurs bring their ideas closer to market, my bill will fill the last remaining skills gap and empower aspiring business owners to access the private capital they need to be commercially successful.  The bill will also ensure that more business-oriented scientists and engineers have access to this high-quality training, and will enlist the Government Accountability Office to ensure that the federal funds expended for the program are well-spent.” 

“America is better for having I-Corps,” stated Steve Blank.  “It has become the standard for entrepreneurship in the federal government, having trained over 1,000 of our country's best scientists.  It’s made turning our government-funded science into companies more efficient.  We should do more of I-Corps.  We can make it broader and better, reaching more people and teaching more skills.  We ought to open the program to innovators and entrepreneurs who have ideas in every part of the country, whether they are in a university or a garage.”

I-Corps helps address the lack of funding from the private sector to develop entrepreneurial capacity at institutions of all sizes and types.  It also helps strengthen the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (SBIR/STTR) programs, shifts institutional culture to better recognize the value of entrepreneurship, and ultimately pays the American taxpayer back many times over in the form of commercialized products that may have otherwise collected dust on a laboratory shelf.

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