USF Research News

University of South Florida leads state with five NSF I-Corps Team awards

November 19, 2014

USF ranks third nationwide for NSF I-Corps teams in 2014

TAMPA, Fla. – Five teams from the University of South Florida have been selected for the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Teams program by the National Science Foundation in 2014.

USF has the most I-Corps teams in Florida this year and ranks third in the U.S., with the University of Michigan and Georgia Institute of Technology. Nationwide, 153 teams representing 91 universities were selected for I-Corps teams in 2014.

“The teams represent the University of South Florida’s fundamental commitment to translational research,” said President Judy Genshaft. “Our faculty and the professionals in the university’s Technology Transfer Office are successful because they work collaboratively to advance innovative projects with the potential to create new products, companies and jobs. As a key economic engine for the Tampa Bay Region, USF is very proud to have this important work recognized by the National Science Foundation.”

The five USF I-Corps teams include a diverse range of technologies, from robotics to biosensors.

Each team will receive a $50,000 grant and participate in an I-Corps Teams curriculum designed to provide real-world, hands-on, immersive learning to teach the researchers what it takes to successfully transition research out of the laboratory into commercially feasible products that benefit society.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) established the I-Corps Teams program to identify NSF-funded researchers, and provide them mentoring and funding in order to accelerate the translation of knowledge derived from fundamental research into emerging products and services.

I-Corps Teams are composed of a principal investigator who serves as technical lead and project manager, an entrepreneurial lead who is typically a postdoctoral researcher or graduate student with the technical knowledge and a commitment to the commercialization of the innovation, and a mentor with entrepreneurial experience.

The NSF I-Corps Team grants help to determine the readiness of each project team to transition technology developed by previously-funded or currently-funded NSF projects to market. By the end of the six-month program, team companies should have a clear indication of the commercial feasibility of their product and the knowledge required to move it forward.

“This is a very important economic development initiative by the National Science Foundation,” said Dr. Paul R. Sanberg, senior vice president for research and innovation at USF.

“The NSF I-Corps program's focus on creating an innovative ecology in the United States will have an enormous impact," said Sanberg, who is also a AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador. "USF’s ranking as a leading institution in this groundbreaking program is a testament to our innovative faculty and students.”

USF I-Corps Teams

Point of Care Biosensor for Quantification of Biomarkers in Bodily Fluids
Principal Investigator: Venkat Bhethanabotla, professor and chair, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
Entrepreneurial Lead: Mandek Richardson, Ph.D. candidate, Biomedical Engineering
Mentor: David Fries, chief technology officer, Spyglass Biotechnologies

Software Suite for Quality-Control of Patterned Nanostructures
Principal Investigator: Sanjukta Bhanja, associate professor, Electrical Engineering
Entrepreneurial Lead: Ravi Panchumarthy, Ph.D. candidate, Computer Science and Engineering
Mentor: Clifford Merz, president and founder, Dialytics

Walking Crutch/Cane for Enhanced Assistance, Balance, and Control of Walking Dynamics
Principal Investigator: Kyle Reed, assistant professor, Mechanical Engineering
Entrepreneurial Lead: Ismet Handzic, postdoctoral researcher, Rehabilitation Engineering and Electromechanical Design Lab
Mentor: David Huizenga, president and chief technology officer, Tao Life Sciences

Mobile and E-network Smart Health (MESH)
Principal Investigator: Hui Yang, assistant professor, Industrial & Management Systems Engineering
Entrepreneurial Lead: Dongping Du, Ph.D. candidate, Industrial & Management Systems Engineering
Mentor: Jose Zayas-Castro, professor and associate dean for research, USF College of Engineering

Mobile Autonomous Remotely Controlled Observation Node (MARCON) Kit
Principal Investigator: David Fries, researcher, Institute for Research in Art/Graphic Studio
Entrepreneurial Lead: Geran Barton, research scientist, Institute for Research in Art/Graphic Studio
Mentor: Alex Burns, Life Sciences Advanced Technologies

The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference and a Charter Member Institution of the National Academy of Inventors.

Media Contact: Lauren Golin, 813-974-0102,