RIT partners with prestigious National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Hub

To further enhance an already robust innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, the Rochester Institute of Technology is partnering with the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Hub: Interior Northeast Region.

RIT will join a consortium of 10 prestigious regional colleges and universities that will use $15 million in NSF funding over the next five years to implement and execute a cohesive innovation ecosystem that supports inclusive models of workforce education and training offers that have been developed for and by innovators in rural regions and small towns. According to NSF, the Interior Northeast Region is representative of parts of the United States that are largely rural and economically underserved and are working to restore economic vitality.

Joining RIT are Dartmouth College, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Buffalo, Syracuse University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Rochester, University of Vermont, West Virginia University and the hub-led institution Cornell University. Each college and university will host regional I Corps courses and contribute to program planning and curriculum strategy.

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“RIT is excited to be a partner in the new regional I-Corps hub,” said Ryne Raffaelle, RIT vice president of research and associate provost. “We are proud to continue our collaboration in advancing technology commercialization, entrepreneurship and the development of the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem, all of which play an integral part in our university’s mission. We look forward to working with the NSF and our partner institutions to positively impact our regional economy in this unique way.”

A business-critical element of the Entrepreneurship Hub’s approach is the creation and management of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility initiatives. The Hub’s leadership and partners work to support the development of STEM research talent, which includes women, veterans, people of color and people with disabilities. These initiatives include collaborations with organizations such as the National GEM Consortium’s Inclusion in Innovation Initiative (i4) and RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

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RIT has a long history of creating and nurturing the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on campus through majors, programs, courses, corporate partnerships, student development and signature events such as the Imagine RIT: Creativity and Innovation Festival. The university’s Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides students and faculty with early-stage commercialization support and training in innovative concepts and technologies through programs such as IdeaLab, Tiger Tank, Studio 930 Design Consultancy, and the Student Accelerator Program. RIT’s technology incubator, Venture Creations, supports the creation and growth of technology-oriented, university-related companies. And RIT’s Saunders College of Business offers uniquely designed courses to lay the foundation for entrepreneurial development, including a master’s degree in Technology Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship. In addition, RIT’s MAGIC Center is a university-wide research center with a multidisciplinary entrepreneurial approach to digital media research and production.

“Our partnership with NSF through the I Corps program validates our efforts and commitment to educating the next generation of inventors and innovators,” said Richard DeMartino, Professor and Albert J. Simone Endowed Chair in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at RIT. “Our students are not only creative, but are willing to actively build on what is taught in the classroom and learn from those who were once in their shoes. This additional NSF funding and sharing of resources will amplify the important work we are doing to support critical thinking, unconventional creativity and the natural drive inherent in all entrepreneurs.”

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Founded by NSF in 2011, I-Corps programming empowers researchers nationwide to combine their technical and scientific knowledge with an entrepreneurial mindset to create new technologies and startups that benefit society. RIT has been an NSF I-Corps location through the Simone Center since 2012 and is part of the Upstate New York I-Corps Node along with Cornell University and the University of Rochester.

The Interior Northeast Region Hub launched on January 1, 2023.

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