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Suresh selected for NSF I-Corps cohort

The NSF I-Corps program has selected doctoral student Shruthi Suresh to join other innovative student researchers for one of its fall 2017 cohorts.

Suresh, advised by Associate Professor Brad Duerstock, is one of two Purdue engineering graduate students accepted into the national program. She joins Industrial Engineering doctoral student Ting Zhang, who is co-advised by Duerstock and Associate Professor Juan Wachs.

Suresh develops assistive technologies for individuals with mobility impairments, specifically for individuals with spinal cord injuries.

"Through the NSF I-Corps program, we will be taking assistive technologies developed in the lab to the market," said Suresh. "The program will provide us with the necessary guidance, exposure and contacts needed to develop a startup." 

The I-Corps program gives faculty and graduate student researchers the opportunity to travel to perform market research and determine the value of their research to potential users and customers, while gaining firsthand experience in turning a research idea into a commercial product.

"Often a doctoral student will develop innovative research that may have tremendous social or commercialization potential but rarely gets a chance to take it any further than publications or a patent application," explained Duerstock, who directs the Duerstock IAS (Institute for Accessible Science) Lab.

The opportunity has fueled Suresh's career ambitions. "Being part of the I-Corps program has encouraged me to pursue an entrepreneurial career, and if all goes well, this may be the first of many startups."

The Purdue I-Corps program is overseen by Matthew Lynall, Director of the Purdue NSF I-Corps Site and Clinical Associate Professor in the Krannert School of Management. Charles Yu of the Purdue Foundry will advise the students.

According to Lynall, the seven-week curriculum for the national I-Corps program is built on a framework of business model design, customer development and agile engineering – and its emphasis on evidence-based entrepreneurship. Its success is measured not only by the technologies that get funded and leave the labs, but how many U.S. scientists and engineers embrace academic entrepreneurship and pass on their knowledge and experience to students.

NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) program, delivered in partnership with over 70 U.S. universities, including Purdue. The objective of the program is to help university researchers develop a path to commercialization for their discoveries. The National program provides I-Corps teams (a PI, PhD/Postdoc, and Industry Mentor) with travel funding and instructional support from experienced entrepreneurs and investors to meet with over 100 potential customers and other stakeholders to test, refine, and validate their hypothesized business model.