UC Riverside will be part of a consortium of seven research universities that will advance new technologies and incubate emergent companies that can move breakthrough discoveries from the lab to the marketplace, officials announced Wednesday.

A $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation will establish I-Corps Hub: West Region. It will be led by the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in partnership with UC Riverside, UCLA, Caltech, the University of Colorado Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines, the University of New Mexico and the University of Utah.

For the past six years, those universities have trained more than 925 entrepreneur teams through their participation in the NSF I-Corps program.

“The Innovation Corps Hub designation builds on the innovation and creativity of USC and our partner institutions to ensure technologies are commercialized and lead to economic growth and greater quality of life,” USC Provost Charles Zukoski said. “The principal investigator of the I-Corps Hub, USC Viterbi School of Engineering Dean Yannis C. Yortsos, has the experience and enthusiasm to ensure that this is a successful endeavor.”

The schools will lay the groundwork to launch and support startups, both university and non-university, through training, mentoring and programming throughout the western United States.

Officials said the consortium will also foster a culture of inclusion that will enable the creation of successful tech ventures by engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs who are people of color, and from many diverse backgrounds.

“For 10 years, the NSF I-Corps program has been critical to fostering the creative spirit and entrepreneurship that enables NSF-funded research to be translated into new products and services and contribute to the nation’s economy,” NSF Deputy Assistant Director for Engineering Linda Blevins said.

“I am delighted to launch the first of our I-Corps Hubs, which will form the foundation for strengthening and scaling this innovation ecosystem. The I-Corps Hubs will bring together diverse scientists and engineers, entrepreneurs, business leaders and industry partners from every part of our country, providing everyone with an opportunity to solve key challenges and spur economic growth, including new startups and new jobs,” she said.

As the program grows, the hub will also add new university affiliates each year.

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