Mike Ryan, associate professor of practice in management and executive director for the Institute for Leadership Research and the Center for Entrepreneurship & Family Business, has been appointed to the National Science Foundation's National I-Corps Teaching Team. He participated as a member of the Regional I-Corps Teaching Team at Texas Tech in September and was subsequently nominated to the national team. His first assignment will be with the Southwest I-Corps node in Houston, which will run from mid-October through the beginning of December.
The National Science Foundation's I-Corps program is designed to explore commercial potential of STEM-based innovation. According to the program's website, it "prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the university laboratory, and accelerates the economic and societal benefits of NSF-funded, basic-research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization."
Development teams receive a $50,000 grant from the I-Corps program to support their efforts to determine product viability. If the team determines to move ahead with the project, they can apply for additional funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and/or the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. If the team does not determine to continue with the project, they can pivot and consider alternative directions for the technology or move on to a revised stream of research. Ultimately, these funding opportunities are designed to de-risk the development of promising technologies.
The National Teaching Team oversees the progress of those participating in the I-Corps development teams as they proceed through the process for product development. In many ways, they serve as concurrent mentors to ensure that the development teams remain on-track throughout the program.
"I am thrilled to be included as a member of the I-Corps National Teaching Team," Ryan said. "This program underscores the importance of innovation here at Texas Tech. It provides support for our efforts to bring our basic research into the realm of practical applications. We need to reinforce the concept that our discoveries, if commercialized, offer significant value to our institution, the local and regional economic communities and society as a whole."