“Keep in mind that successful companies are less about the original idea and more about the learning, discovery and execution.” – STEVE BLANK

The Fall 2015 CSU Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) cohort was for CSU student teams.  Both undergraduates and graduate students participated. Student teams start with a biotechnology research-based idea, interview potential customers and partners, and apply creative thought to find a problem-solution fit based on their idea. Teams attended webinars to learn about the customer discovery process, business model canvas concepts, business communications, legal, as well as regulatory and reimbursement issues. Webinars were taught by experienced life science entrepreneurs, industry professionals and faculty associated with CSU I-Corps.

To smooth the work of moving product concepts out of the lab, teams won CSU I-Corps™ microgrants ($2500).  Microgrants were used to interview and work with mentors and advisors, to attend industry meetings to meet and interview potential customers and partners, to fabricate prototypes, and/or to buy research materials and supplies for proof-of-concept work.


  • Biliblu Biomedical (CSU Sacramento). Our bilirubin monitor helps hospitals who want to monitor bilirubin in newborns by reducing the amount of invasive blood tests and enabling hospitals to accurately and non-invasively monitor bilirubin in newborns. Nathaniel Johnson (EL), Josh Ayotte & Doua Yang. Crowd favorite designation from audience at 28th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium & special recognition received from evaluation panel.
  • BioNivia Tech (CSU Los Angeles). Our fine motor skill therapy system helps patients with fine motor disabilities recover faster compared to traditional therapeutic methods. Jonathan Rey (EL), Tim Achinger, Kristine Belknap & Brian Lee.
  • BioOrganic Medicinal Chemistry (CSU Fresno). Our curcumin anologues help pharmaceutical companies who want to find new drug candidates to treat late stage prostate cancer. Sheng Zhang (EL), Leyla Farshidpour, Yoshikazu Miura & Xiaojie Zhang
  • BioStream (CSU Los Angeles & Cal Poly Pomona). NeoScan is a versatile inventory manager that maintains accurate tracking and ordering of laboratory materials. NeoScan reduces the error and time that is associated with current laboratory practices while ensuring grant funds are spent responsibly. Luis Rosa (EL), Oscar Diaz & Michael Marquez
  • Calcitronics (CSU East Bay). Shuja Sajjad (EL), Wardak Aman, Tristan Jensen & Roy Thomas –  osteoporosis test
  • Central Valley BioPharma (CSU Fresno). Matthew Ogbuehi (EL), Chieh-Ju Lin & Ignacio Villanueva – nanoscale drug delivery system
  • Fibrex Sciences (CSU East Bay). Our bioengineered animal leathers help luxury brands who want to produce high-end leather accessories avoid costly inhumane animal farming and gain a reputation for producing high quality animal/cruelty-free products, unlike current animal farming processes. Michael Amadi (EL), Jason Cole & Ryan Smith
  • Cryogenix (CSU Los Angeles). Our tissue preservation cryo-solution helps organ procurement organizations increase their matching rates by increasing the time organs are viable and feasible transportation ranges. Ariga Bianca Yaghoobi (EL) & Marlene Villegas-Ortega
  • Laser Clean (San Diego State University). Our laser wave-mixing spectroscopy method helps diagnose multiple sclerosis earlier, decreasing costs to insurance companies in terms of diagnostics and prognosis and increasing quality of life of MS patients. Zarina Munshi (EL), Alexander Jackson & Jason Peretz.  Crowd favorite designation from audience at 28th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium & special recognition received from evaluation panel.
  • LiveSorb (Humboldt State University). Ryan Kaplan (EL), Elizabeth Bailey & Chris De Alba – bioremediation cartridge
  • Mobile Metrics (CSU Sacramento). Aaron Blancaflor (EL), Jayson Francis, Rima Hakim & Christopher Smith – wearable device
  • NeoPatch (Cal Poly Pomona). Our transdermal patch helps diabetic patients who want to monitor and regulate blood glucose levels. Jonathan Tringali (EL), Dana Marquardt, Dorian Martinez & Alex Murphy. Crowd favorite designation from audience at 28th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium.
  • OVON, Inc. (SanJosé State University). Our antimicrobial coating helps textile manufacturers who want to create a better product by providing antimicrobial properties in hospital settings and decreasing the incidence of hospital acquired infections. Mrudula Vemuri(EL),Cynthia Ouanji, Neda Nasr,  & Gayatri Venkatesan – antimicrobial fabric. Special recognition received from evaluation panel.
  • Proteiniacs (CSU Los Angeles). Our antifreeze protein additive helps food companies who want to decrease moisture levels in their food by reducing manufacturing costs and increasing consistency of goods. Celeste Rodriguez (EL), Julia DeNamur, Estela Lemus & Uriel Rivera
  • Sacramento Monitor Assistance (CSU Sacramento). Our patient monitor helps caregivers of dementia patients who want to ensure their patients are safe at all times by avoiding expensive healthcare costs and allowing lost patients to be located faster. Allen Poniente (EL), Brandon Davis, Javier Ramos & Hannah Weakley
  • SJ Biomechanics (San José State University). Our back brace helps nurses who want to lift patients by reducing back pain and increasing productivity. Kevin Bencini (EL), Sean Arin, Val Razdyakonova & Ari Schwartz
  • Vinci Diabetes (San José State University). Our noninvasive insulin patch with a SMART blood glucose monitoring system helps diabetic patients intake insulin in a more comfortable method compared to conventional glucometers, insulin pumps, and pen injections.  Madiha Shah (EL), Guneet Bhogal, My Phan & Ashleen Sandhu – insulin patch

The Fall 2015 syllabus is here (version 4, 10/30/15). 
This is a Biological Sciences I-Corps program – so product/service/process concepts fall into one of these categories: therapeutics, devices, diagnostics, digital health, environmental monitoring, instrumentation/bioinformatics/tools, biofuels, agricultural biotechnologies.

Funded teams:

  • participated in a series of regularly scheduled webinars designed to teach teams about about the customer discovery process, business model canvas concepts, business communications, legal and biotechnology regulatory issues;
  • used an experimental method to iteratively and continuously test whether your biotechnology product, service or process concept meets a real market need;
  • worked with a teaching team, mentors and advisors drawn from CSUPERB’s statewide network of biotechnology industry associations, alumni and campus-based innovation centers;
  • assessed (and re-assessed!) a biotechnology idea’s maturity, problem-solution fit, and follow-on funding strategies, based on feedback from customers and advisors;
  • presented product concepts and lessons learned at a final, in-person meeting with industry professionals;
  • gained remarkable access to industry mentors and leadership opportunities on which to build a career, a company, or your next proposal idea; and
  • some teams gained eligibility for the NSF’s I-Corps™ Team Grant program (and $50,000 follow-on funding).

On the Final Weekend (January 7-9, 2016), CSU I-Corps teams presented their product concepts, justified the problem-solution fit, and described lessons learned to evaluation panels.  Teams’ success were gauged by the amount of learning they did over the fall.

The CSU I-Corps is funded by the National Science Foundation, as part of the I-Corps Sites™ program. Email csuicorps@mail.sdsu.edu or call the program office (619-594-2822) if you have questions about this program.