Colorado-Corps is a National Science Foundation funded grant program that supports customer discovery efforts for entrepreneurs at Colorado State University.  The program is designed to provide travel funds for entrepreneurs to participate in and complete customer discovery interviews, based on the Lean Launchpad methodology.  The technology transfer unit, in collaboration with the Institute for Entrepreneurship, offers a Research to Market Program (R2M) based on the NSF I-Corp model, to train researchers in effective customer discovery methods.  Perspectives from Founders that have participated in the R2M or NSF I-Corps Programs are provided in the videos below.

Interested individuals may apply for grant funds through two gateways – The Institute of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business and CSU Ventures.

Stories from Founders that have participated in the Research to Market Program

Good To Know

What is Colorado-Corps?
Colorado-Corps is the Colorado State University (CSU) site for the National Science Foundation I-Corps (NSF I-Corps) program.  Colorado State University was awarded a National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Site or “CSU Site” in 2018 that leverages our nationally-recognized energy innovation ecosystem to catalyze and accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation across the CSU system and along the Front Range of Colorado. The objectives of this I-Corps Site are to stimulate the translation of research into products and services, train more faculty and students to understand innovation and entrepreneurship, and contribute to the National Innovation Network of mentors, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors by increasing the number of students and faculty exposed to the Lean Launchpad training methodology. 
Elements of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem at Colorado State University

Colorado State University Innovation Network graphic

CCIA – Colorado Cleantech Industries Association; COB – College of Business; COB-IE – College of Business Institute for Entrepreneurship; COGA – Colorado Oil & Gas Association; CO-OEDIT – Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade; CSU – Colorado State University; CSU-V – CSU Ventures; EI – Energy Institute; Govt – government; OVPR – Office of the Vice President for Research; VC – Venture Capital.

Figure 1: A detailed view of the Colorado-Corps innovation ecosystem partners.Colorado-Corps leverages existing innovation assets including: a) formal coursework in technical entrepreneurship; b) use of faculty and student organizations to assist in team recruitment; b) application of seed funds, commercialization events, and start-up challenges to recruit teams into Colorado-Corps; c) experienced faculty start-up ambassadors/mentors; d) the customer discovery Research-to-Market accelerator program (R2M); and e) a committed external support network consisting of a technology incubator, multiple Colorado industry associations, state government, and several venture capital funds. 

Internal Partners

To strengthen CSU’s innovation ecosystem and ensure widespread participation, the CSU Site Leadership Team engages and integrates several groups into the team recruitment and training processes (shown in green in Fig. 1).

External Stakeholders

To broaden the CSU Site’s regional impact, it leverages and continues decades of collaboration between Technology Transfer Offices at the University of Colorado – Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), and CSU, which have led to a continual sharing of best practices and resources across all four institutions. Specifically, the CSU Site will train self-funded and self-mentored teams from other research universities. The CSU Site also leverages and strengthens these and other relationships through regular and active engagement with external stakeholders who participate in CSU Site annual meetings. The Site Leadership team updates external stakeholders on team and cohort development, specific industry mentorship needs, and post-CSU Site support needs of more mature teams and associated start-up companies. In turn, external stakeholders have committed to providing advice and mentorship to both the CSU Site itself and associated teams aligned with their respective missions and business interests.

Customer Discovery - the Research to Market Program at Colorado State University

Colorado-Corps training module builds upon the Research-to-Market accelerator program (R2M) developed by CSUV in collaboration with EI and the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association (CCIA). The six-week program combines core elements of NSF I Corps Customer Discovery program and USDOE Energy I Corps training into a unique program tailored to the specific needs of CSU and its partnering institutions. Colorado-Corps trains three cohorts of CSU faculty and/or student teams annually along with self-funded teams from the other research universities each year.  Each CSU team – consisting of an entrepreneurial lead, business lead, and industry mentor – receives on average $2,000 (actual allotments will be based on a Site Leadership Team’s review of each team’s needs), and must: a) participate in a two full-day introduction to the Lean Launchpad business development process, b) attend three webinars, c) conduct 35 customer interviews, and d) attend a two full-day closing session during which they must deliver a detailed workflow landscape, value chain, supply chain, and mature Business Model Canvas. Colorado-Corps engages an extensive external support network to identify and engage team mentors and serves as a resource for start-ups emerging from the Site on topics such as strategy, financing, management, and deal structure.

Learn More – R2M Program at CSU

Previous Cohorts - Team Leadership

Team Leads are from CSU, unless otherwise noted

Cohort 4:  2019

  • Greg Newman, PhD, Affiliate Faculty, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory
  • Keith Paustian, PhD, University Distinguished Professor, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, and Sr. Research Scientist in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory
  • Andre Dozier, PhD, Research Scientist, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Owen Hildreth, PhD, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Colorado School of Mines
  • Joel Basken, Arpeggio Biosciences
  • Nicholas Kellaris, PhD Candidate, Materials Science and Engineering, University of Colorado
  • Omer Tzang, PhD, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Optics, Nanostructure & Bioengineering, University of Colorado
  • Grant Buckingham, PhD, Catamaran Labs
  • Zach Newman, PhD, Post-Doctoral Researcher, National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Wei Tan, PhD, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado
  • Greg Formosa, PhD Candidate, Advanced Medical Technologies Laboratory, University of Colorado
  • Majid Zamani, PhD, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, University of Colorado
  • Alex Mulvaney, BS, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, University of Colorado
  • Christopher Vargo, PhD, Assistant Professor, Media, Communication and Information, University of Colorado
  • Cameron Dotts, Professional Research Assistant, University of Colorado
  • Jeanne Barthold, PhD Candidate, Soft Tissue Bioengineering Lab, University of Colorado
  • Laila Marzall, PhD Candidate, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, University of Colorado

Cohort 3:  2018

  • Garret Miyake, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry
  • Jay Ham, PhD, Professor, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences
  • Susan James, PhD, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Ron Tjalkens, PhD, Professor, Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences
  • Tiezheng Tong, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Chris Ackerson, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
  • Tiana Magee, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences
  • Susanta K. Sarkar, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Colorado School of Mines

Cohort 2:  2018

  • Todd Bandhauer, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Elaine Carnevale, Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences
  • Eugene Chen, Professor, Department of Chemistry
  • Seth Donahue, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Amanda Guth, Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences
  • Ray Goodrich, Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology; Executive Director of the Infectious Disease Research Center
  • Susan Bailey, Professor, Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences
  • Chris Snow, Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Jorge Rocca, Carmen Menoni, Professors, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Cohort 1: 2017

  • Mark Schleiger & Thomas Reilly, Access Sensor Technologies
  • Arun Kota, Former Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Asma Hanif, Research Associate, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Todd Bandhauer, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Kyle Benne, Dan Macumber, Michael Leahey – National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Dane Christensen, Scott Carmichael, Rob Sewell – National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Michael Guarnieri, Calvin Henard, Bill Schafer – National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Calvin Mukarakate, Nolan Wilson, John Aikens – National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Susan Habas, Fred Baddour – National Renewable Energy Lab