In May 2014 CSUPERB received a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Site program to fund microgrants to and entrepreneurship education for CSU students and faculty.


CSU students and faculty who have biological sciences-based product, service or process ideas are eligible for $2500 microgrants.  Site team ideas or projects can originate from student work, student or faculty research (funded or unfunded), or campus projects.

Microgrants can be used to consult with mentors and advisors, to attend industry meetings to meet and interview potential customers, to fabricate prototypes, and/or to buy research materials and supplies for proof-of-concept work. The microgrant program allows academic researchers and nascent entrepreneurs to get feedback from customers and advisors to better assess their biotechnology idea’s maturity, venture feasibility, and follow-on funding strategies.

  • CSU I-Corps microgrants will be awarded for a six-month period to CSU student and/or faculty teams.
  • Entrepreneurial Leads must have access to and freedom to operate with the underlying biotechnology.
  • CSUPERB can make up to 30 CSU I-Corps microgrants annually.

Starting June 2014, microgrants will be available for students participating in the Fall 2014 Early-Stage Biotechnology Commercialization Challenge. Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a rolling basis until late September, 2014.

A call for microgrant proposals from faculty researchers will go out in January 2015; they will be awarded on a rolling basis through spring 2015.


Each microgrant applicant team must consist – at minimum – of an entrepreneurial lead (EL) and an industry mentor (IM). For the fall 2014 round of applications, ELs must be CSU students in good standing and enrolled on campus through February 2015.  If applicants do not have an industry mentor, CSUPERB is committed to finding one for the team.  The CSU I-Corps Microgrant will be awarded to the EL, once an IM is assigned to the team.

CSUPERB recommends teams of 3-4 students, and teams must include one or two business/entrepreneurship students. Teams can be expanded with academic researchers, faculty advisors and/or entrepreneurship mentors (EM). Entrepreneurship Mentors (EM) can help guide the team through customer interviews, business model canvas usage, effective communication strategies and other entrepreneurship concepts. Teams may be able to identify EMs at campus-based entrepreneurship, innovation or small business development centers on CSU campuses.  However, on the final immersion weekend in January, only student members of the team can make presentations.  You can read more specifics on team eligibility here.


1) Download and complete a CSU I-Corps microgrant application (Download Microsoft Word document template here).

2) Fill out the application form and make sure to upload your completed application template.

3) During Fall 2014, teams who do not want to apply for a microgrant can participate in the planned curriculum and activities, but teams must register by September 8th.

We will be accepting and reviewing 2014 Student microgrant applications on a rolling basis until Monday, September 8, 2014.  We aim to review and make decisions as quickly as possible so that teams can start working with their microgrant budgets.


Over the six months, funded teams will:

  • participate in a series of regularly scheduled webinars designed to teach participants about customer discovery, business model canvas concepts, business communications, regulatory affairs and other biological sciences commercialization concepts;
  • develop a biotechnology product, service or process concept as a solution to a market need by working with mentors and advisors drawn from CSUPERB’s statewide network of biotechnology industry associations, alumni and campus-based innovation centers;
  • assess a biotechnology idea’s maturity, venture feasibility, and follow-on funding strategies based on feedback from customers and advisors;
  • present final venture concepts and lessons learned at the CSU Biotechnology Symposium (January 8-10, 2015, Santa Clara Marriott), and
  • gain remarkable access to industry mentors and leadership opportunities on which to build a career, a company, or the your next venture launch.

The entrepreneurial experience gained will set applicants up for success in federal SBIR/STTR grant and NCIIA E-Team applications, as well as incubator and accelerator on-ramping.  Specifically, CSU I-Corps webinars and activities will prepare teams to apply for the NSF I-Corps Teams program.  I-Corps Team grants ($50,000) allow recipients to further develop commercialization pathways and formulate proof-of-concept work, as well as participate in the national I-Corps curriculum.