University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

NSF I-Corps Summer Program

The STEAM Training in Entrepreneurial Practices (STEP) I-Corps Site will fund faculty and student researchers to vet the promise of new technologies during a 10-week summer training program.

NSF Icorps

Program Partners


Program Goals

The University of Arkansas I-Corps Site, STEP (STEAM Training in Entrepreneurial Practices), builds on existing programs that accelerate the commercialization of research by faculty and students.

A primary goal of this program is to encourage researchers to consider how the commercialization of their research might open new avenues of discovery and promote economic development in the state.


The application deadline for 2018 summer program is May 1, 2018. The program runs from June 1, 2018 through August 10, 2018.

For more information, please call 479-575-7347 or email

I-Corps Application Form


The STEP site will include undergraduate and graduate student teams and faculty from three UA System campuses: the University of Arkansas (UA), the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), and the University of Arkansas Little Rock (UALR).

All faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates whose research holds commercial potential are encouraged to apply. For more information, please contact us at 479-575-7347 or email us at

Program Summary

Phase I: June 1, 2018 – July 7, 2018  (Initial customer discovery interviews focused on problem-solution fit)
The first 5 weeks of the I-Corps™ STEP Program will consist of a mandatory all-day kick-off in Fayetteville, AR, on June 1, 2018. During Phase I, teams are expected to complete at least 10 customer discovery interviews and update their lean canvases to reflect changes to the problem, customer segment, and value proposition cells as they complete interviews and test hypotheses. Each week, teams will have access to members of the extended teaching team via online office hours. Teams will receive funding of up to $1,000 to support their initial customer discovery efforts. Phase I will culminate in team presentations on what they have learned and evidence to support the "go" or "no go" decisions they have reached.

Phase II: July 9, 2018 – August 10, 2018 (Customer discovery interviews focused on problem-market fit)
Teams that are selected to continue to Phase II can receive additional funding of up to $2,250 (total team funding of $3,250), to conduct 15 high-quality interviews focused on problem-market fit. Team selection will be based upon demonstrated commitment to the program during Phase I (as determined by the quantity and quality of interviews and full participation in weekly activities), progress made to date (as determined by what the team has learned and any pivots they have made), and commitment to fully participate in Phase II. STEP will conclude with a final face-to-face meeting, in which the teams will present their learnings from the program and their next steps.

Teaching Team

Core Teaching Team

  • Jeff Amerine – University of Arkansas adjunct professor of entrepreneurship, Start-Up Junkie, active angel investor
  • Carol Reeves (PI) - Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurship, Professor and holder of the Cecil and Gwendolyn Cupp Applied Professorship in Entrepreneurship, Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.
  • Jeff Stinson - Founder/Instructor for Delta I-Fund, Director of Health InnovatAR, Executive Director of the Fund for Arkansas' Future

Extended Teaching Team

  • Bob Beitle, Ph.D., co-PI - Associate Vice-Provost for Research and Economic Development at the University of Arkansas.
  • Ed Pohl, Ph.D., co-PI - 21st Century Professorship, Professor and Head of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Arkansas, Director of the Center for Innovation in Healthcare Logistics.
  • Cynthia Sides, Ph.D., co-PI - Office of Industry Engagement at the University of Arkansas.
  • Daniel Berleant, Ph.D. - Professor in the Department of Information Science at UA Little Rock
  • John Chamberlin – Chamberlin Research, Little Rock, AR
  • Nancy M. Gray, Ph.D. - director of UAMS BioVentures,
  • Mariofanna Milanova, Ph.D. - Professor in the Department of Computer Science at UA Little Rock
  • Menguin Xie, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at UA Little Rock
  • Amy Hopper – Program Officer, WinRock International
  • Sarah Goforth - Director of Outreach, Office of Entrepreneurship & Innovation, University of Arkansas

I-Corps History

The I-Corps program was created by the NSF in 2011 to help faculty and students in the sciences learn how to apply lean startup methods for bringing new technologies to the marketplace. With funding provided by the program and the support and mentorship provided by the site, researchers and students will conduct market research, learn to identify product-market fit through interviews with potential customers, and develop prototypes.


Teams will be encouraged to take advantage of the growing Arkansas entrepreneurial ecosystem, which includes resources such as the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub at the University of Arkansas, statewide grant programs such as the Delta I-Fund, and accelerator programs such as the InnovatAR Life Sciences Accelerator supported by UAMS.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1735717.

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