Pacific Desert Hub

The National Science Foundation designated UC San Diego as one of the four original universities to pilot their "innovation Corps" concept in 2011.  The resulting NSF I-Corps™ program was established to educate and train technical founders in lean startup principles, including value-based development and customer validation.  

IGE has enhanced and expanded the core curriculum, creating a rigorous introductory workshop series as foundational first steps in a Path-to-Market journey. This program will guide you through the process of product development, market validation, and business modeling.

Today, IGE is part of the Desert and Pacific Region Hub, which includes the Universities of Arizona, Boise State, Northern Arizona, Hawai'i, Idaho and Nevada, Las Vegas. This allows IGE to expand its Impact by increasing our network, pooling resources, and servicing more startup teams.


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Ready to Start Your Entrepreneurial Journey?

IGE runs the NSF I-Corps Pacific Desert Hub Program runs year round


Experienced Industry Mentors

The program is based on real-world, hands-on, immersive learning in concert with mentoring from experienced industry entrepreneurs.  It includes interviewing customers and understanding their needs and problems to develop a strong product/market fit. In each session, participants engage with mentors and other teams to share what they learn from their customer discovery efforts - as constructive feedback to further their development.


Funding Opportunities

Admitted teams are eligible for a $1000 stipend to continue market validation if requirements are met.

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Objectives of the Program:

  • Learn the basics of lean startup entrepreneurship
  • Effectively communicate the value of your idea
  • Validate market potential through customer discovery
  • Gateway to other acceleration programs such as NSF I-Corps™ Nationals Teams Program


    NSF i-corps logo

    NSF I-Corps

    National I-Corps

    Once you complete the local I-Corps course, you are eligible to apply to National I-Corps where you can earn a grant of up to $50,000. 

    More Info

    Eligibility Requirements

    Attend five mandatory classes and complete homework assignments. Interface with your mentor between classes.

    Originate from student work, research (funded or unfunded), institutional, or industrial projects.

    All UC San Diego students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty, and recent alumni are eligible to apply. It is required that participants apply to this program as a team of at least two people.

    Previous requirements plus underrepresented founders in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics, or part of the UC System, or part of the Desert- Pacific Hub, or participants in a partner organization of IGE such as San Diego State University or UC San Diego's Talent Foundry.


      NSF I-Corps 2024 Cohorts 

      As part of the I-Corps program, UCSD is a member of the NSF Desert and Pacific Region (DPR) Hub, a curated partnership of eight Western US universities intended to synergistically combine nascent, emerging, and mature research and entrepreneurial areas of strengths across state lines and reaching beyond conventional geographical centers for innovation.  There are multiple cohorts throughout the year. All cohorts are open for application.

      NSF I-Corps® (Sustainability) @ UC San Diego

      Summer: Jul 11 - Aug 8, 2024

      Virtual Sessions: Thursdays, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM

      *Aug 1 is an off-week

      Orientation is 5:00 PM on Jul 8, 2024

      NSF I-Corps® (MedTech) @ UC San Diego

      Fall: Oct 9 - Oct 30, 2024

      Virtual Sessions: Wednesdays, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM

      Apply to Industry-focused I-Corps @ UCSD


      Upcoming Dates for NSF I-Corps® Pacific-Desert Hub

      U of Idaho Cohort: Jun 26 - Jul 24, 2024

      Cohort 5: Jun 28 - Aug 2, 2024

      Cohort 6: Aug 16 - Sep 13, 2024

      Boise State (Semiconductors) Cohort: Sep 6 - Oct 4, 2024

      U of Arizona (FemTech) Cohort: Sep 10 - Oct 8, 2024

      Cohort 7: Sep 27 - Oct 25, 2024

      U of Hawaii Cohort: Oct 2 - Oct 30, 2024

      Cohort 8: Nov 8 - Dec 13, 2024

      Each cohort is fully remote and consists of four 3-hour sessions plus a 1-hour Kick-Off Session 

      Apply to NSF I-Corp

      Questions?  Contact