2019-2020 Year in Review

August 2019 - August 2020

In the midst of a global pandemic, I-Corps quickly shifted all programming and events online to safely accomodate participants and prevent the further spread of COVID-19. UNY I-Corps is leveraging this virtual frontier to assist a wider audience of STEM researchers and student entrepreneurs who wish to “get out of the lab” (from the safety of their homes) to connect with and learn from potential customers about their innovative ideas.

When creating a culture for entrepreneurship, we need to focus on impact, not just the value of a potential product. We start by educating people about entrepreneurship and helping them understand that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to make an impact. I’m excited about I-Corps, because it is a tool for accelerating the pace in which a new idea becomes an impactful product.

-Lynden A. Archer, Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering, Cornell University and Technical Lead/PI for I-Corps Team 1843, PoLi

I-Corps Teams National Program

Top researchers from across the US receive a $50,000 NSF grant to participate in this intensive innovation and entrepreneurship training course. Over seven weeks, teams complete 100+ customer discovery interviews to collect evidence of product-market fit.

Within the last year:


teams sent to the National program


in funding awarded to teams


mentors matched with teams


of teams included women


of teams included individuals from under-represented groups

National Faculty

Our team has led six cohorts to date, including Summer 2020 Virtual Cohort #2. Fernando Gomez-Baquero completed the 2020 national training.


Fernando Gómez-Baquero

Andrea Ippolito

Andrea Ippolito

Mike Reidlinger

Mike Riedlinger

Ken Rother

Ken Rother

Tom Schryver

Tom Schryver

Deborah Streeter

Deborah Streeter

Regional Courses

We pivoted to virtual delivery and led 24 courses for 344 participants with partners across the Northeast.

View Recent Regional Courses
While the circumstances are less than ideal, we are excited about the opportunity to develop and deploy I-Corps materials that can be used by participants across the region. Participants made tremendous progress in the virtual format, and it was great to see the deep engagement in our video meetings. We’re excited to use this model to expand our reach.

– Tom Schryver,  Executive Director, UNY I-Corps Node

2020 UNY I-Corps Regional Economic Impact:


in capital raised


in SBIR/STTR funding awarded to teams


in business revenue generated


new hires by startups

Data reflects economic impact of teams who have completed a national I-Corps Teams cohort, a UNY I-Corps regional course, and/or were affiliated with Cornell’s I-Corps Site.

NE I-Corps Annual Adventure

The “2020 Northeast I-Corps Annual Adventure” was originally planned by the UNY, NERIN and NYCRIN Nodes to occur in-person at Cornell University, but in the face of a global pandemic, the two-day event pivoted online to safely accommodate the 140+ panelists, speakers, organizers, and attendees who tuned in from across the United States, making this year’s gathering one of the most engaging, informative, and enjoyable annual meetings yet.

Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives

We strive to foster inclusive and welcoming programming and are focused on recruiting a diverse range of participants and instructors, particularly underrepresented minorities, women, and individuals with disabilities. Read more about our Diversity & Inclusion initiatives and Instructor Training for Inclusivity.

Success Story: Exotanium

The pandemic could have ended Exotanium’s ambitions before it even got off the ground—the cloud-optimization startup was in the midst of fundraising when COVID-19 hit—however, as businesses moved their operations online and demand for cloud software systems skyrocketed, the UNY I-Corps and National I-Corps Teams alumni raised $1 million.

Exotanium’s “X-Spot” technology allows businesses to effectively navigate the spot market to harness low prices when temporary spot servers become available, saving businesses up to 90% on cloud application server fees—a huge advantage for a company in a market estimated to be worth $26 billion by 2024.

The startup’s upward trajectory continues with a move to larger offices at Cornell’s Praxis Center for Venture Development and workforce expansion. It also launched a pilot with Autodesk, Inc. to test Exotanium’s concept for cloud back-end optimization.

The purpose of the REGIONAL course is to get scientists who think they know what they’re doing out of their comfort zones to talk to businesses marketing their products on a daily basis. That was our first taste. - Hakim Weatherspoon, CEO, Exotanium
Originally, we were targeting bacteria for agricultural use, then this pandemic happened. When you’re an academic, your technology may only have one stated purpose, but if it’s a very good technology, you suddenly find it has a broad application and can address some immediate crisis. - Mingyu Qiao, CTO, Halomine

Success Story: Halomine

The commercialization of an antimicrobial coating technology that keeps surfaces clean by extending the life of chlorine-based disinfectants—by days and even weeks—is being fast-tracked to determine how well it can combat COVID-19. Halomine, a UNY I-Corps and National I-Corps Teams alumni company and 2019 Grow-NY finalist, is behind the biomaterials innovation.

The technology’s potential to prevent COVID-19 from contaminating private and public spaces has attracted the interest of the National Science Foundation. In May, NSF awarded Halomine $256,000 from its COVID-19 Rapid Response Research (RAPID) program to expedite the product’s development, as well as a separate $225,000 RAPID grant to fight hospital-based infections related to COVID-19.

Download the UNY I-Corps Node 2019-2020 Year in Review