2020 Northeast I-Corps Annual Adventure Sparks Connections and Conversations

Composite of image of multiple Zoom screens featuring attendee's faces and the text "Northeast I-Corps Annual Adventure" and the NERIN, NYCRIN, and UNY I-Corps Node logos.

2020 Northeast I-Corps Annual Adventure Sparks Connections and Conversations

The “2020 Northeast I-Corps Annual Adventure” was originally planned to occur in-person at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, 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.

Organized by the New England Regional Innovation NOde (NERIN), The New York City Regional Node (NYCRIN), and UNY I-Corps Node teams and held on June 15 and 16, this year’s camp-themed programming (hence, the “Adventure”) featured engaging panel discussions and breakout sessions on important and timely topics such as the Virtualization of I-Corps Regional Courses, Sustainability & Durability of Startups During COVID-19, Diversity & Inclusion in I-Corps, How to Develop an Engaged Mentor Pool, Event Planner Best Practices for Running Virtual Events, and NSF’s Future Vision for I-Corps. Each morning began with “Rise and Shine” welcoming remarks from UNY Node Executive Director, Tom Schryver, and breakout sessions where attendees could connect and join in some playful ice breaker activities. The second morning also featured breathing and stretching exercises provided by Cornell Wellness instructor, Jeremy Stewart. Attendees came together at the end of each day for a reflective “Campfire Closing.”

It’s fitting that the first fully virtual Northeast I-Corps Annual Meeting would feature a strong focus on enhancing online learning and communication and strengthening diversity across the I-Corps platform. Many of this year’s event planners and attendees expressed surprise and satisfaction at how well the breakout sessions and interactive chat features fostered meaningful connections and conversations, despite not being able to convene in-person:

“The sessions about virtualizing regional courses and planning virtual events were extremely helpful to hear, especially in regard to what others are doing and contemplating. It gave me a fresh perspective on how to engage our students and attendees at events.”

“I would love to see more breakout sessions and small group discussions. As somewhat new to I-Corps, I really found feedback from experienced participants useful.”

“It was one of the best virtual conferences/meetings I have attended thus far!”

“I think we could do this meeting virtually permanently, perhaps with additional in-person events that are related to ecosystem activities.”

On behalf of the NERIN, NYCRIN, and UNY I-Corps Node teams, thank you to this year’s attendees who were “all in” and brought an incredible level of energy, insight, and engagement to the 2020 Northeast I-Corps Annual Adventure!