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National Science Foundation I-Corps Program

The Entrepreneurial Proof of Concept and Innovation Center (EPIC) offers introductory training workshops to entrepreneurs within campus and the community as part of the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps program. Named “INNOVAR Workshops” our quarterly program utilizes the Lean Launchpad methodology to evaluate product-market fit for an idea, technology or product and determine if it has market potential. By interviewing customers and other stakeholders, participants validate their idea in the market by defining the individual customer they are targeting and the “value” that they bring to that specific customer. Only when the customer sees “value” in the proposed technology or product, will they want to purchase it, which is the base for a viable business.

If you have an innovative idea or technology and want to increase the chances of successful commercialization, UCR’s NSF INNOVAR workshops are for you.

  • Dedicated Mentorship - 1:1 mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs.
  • Transferable Business skills - Sharpen presentation skills, learn basic business concepts and how to effectively present your idea or technology to non-technical audiences.
  • Expanded Network - Connect with fellow innovators, industry experts, and potential customers, partners, investors, and stakeholders.
  • Access to Funding - Upon completion, qualify for $50,000 from the NSF and apply for Proof of Concept grant funding of up to $35,000.

Success Story

Edge Sound Research

From the earliest discussions of a business idea to attending and pitching at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), most startups require more than a month. But for Ethan Castro and Valtteri Salomaki, that’s exactly the speed their business has followed.


Jay Gilberg

Lead Instructor
INNOVAR Workshops

Tel: (951) 827-5579 


Cohort Dates

INNOVAR Workshop
Fall 2021 Cohort

Classes on Tuesdays from 5:00-6:30pm on Zoom:
October 12, 19, 26 November 2, 9, 16, and 23

Deadline to apply: Friday October 1, 2021
Apply Today!

INNOVAR Workshop Program

This quarterly program introduces the Lean Launchpad methodology and focuses on identifying and understanding the “customer” and their needs. Direct, face-to-face customer interviews provide insightful data to confirm product-market fit. In simple terms, customer interviews confirm that the entrepreneur is building something that somebody in the market wants, which significantly increases their chances of success. The program is focused on the market (customer's needs) and not the technology. It also introduces business concepts such as competition, market size, go-to-market, intellectual property protection and funding.

Participation requires approximately 8 hours/week of effort by team members including class time, customer interviewing, mentor meetings and assignment completion.

What’s in it for you?

  • The possibility to apply to the National NSF I-Corps program ($50,000 grant)
  • Preferred application for a Proof Of Concept Grant (up to $35,000) available to UCR Faculty
  • Better chances of success when submitting SBIR/STTR Grants (up to $225,000 for Phase I and $1.5M for Phase II)
  • Access to ExCITE Incubator Residency if appropriate
  • Ongoing mentoring through EPIC SBDC
  • Access to Wet Lab Incubator Residency if appropriate

Your NSF I-Corps Liaison

Jay Gilberg

Lead Instructor, INNOVAR Workshops
Entrepreneurship and Innovation


Jay Gilberg portrait