​​BIO 2019: I-Corps Bio-Entrepreneurship Workshop

Who: Early-career life science researchers from groups underrepresented in biotechnology research organizations. Research-active undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and assistant professors from universities and colleges nationwide are eligible to participate. Researchers from Minority-Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities are especially encouraged to apply.


BIO 2019 I-Corps Participants:

  • Olayinka Adebayo (Doctoral student, Biomedical Sciences, Morehouse School of Medicine)
  • Dayanira Alsina Beauchamp (Postdoctoral fellow, Oncological Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital)
  • Monica Assante Addo (Master's student, Interdisciplinary Studies in Biomedical Enterprise, Georgia State University)
  • Ana Clara Bobadilla (Postdoctoral fellow, Neuroscience, Medical School of South Carolina)
  • Ali Camara (Doctoral student, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Purdue University)
  • Noe Crespo (Doctoral student, Biochemistry, University of Puerto Rico)
  • Ivelisse Cruz-Torres (Doctoral student, Pharmacology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus)
  • Zerick Dunbar (Doctoral student, Immunology/Biomedical Sciences, Meharry Medical College)
  • Ivory Ellis (Doctoral student, Biomedical Sciences, Morehouse School of Medicine)
  • Alonso Favela (Doctoral student, Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Karina Gonzales-Smith (Master's student, Public Health, University of Alaska)
  • Hamsa Gouda (Doctoral student, Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine)
  • Brian Hamilton (Master's student, Biology, Northern Arizona University)
  • Alhaji Janneh (Doctoral student, Biomedical Science, Medical College of South Carolina)
  • Yiyun Lin (Doctoral student, Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University)
  • Fatima Majid (Master's student, Biomedical Engineering, Lawrence Technological University)
  • Mckenna Merrill (Undergraduate, Biomedical Engineering, University of New Hampshire)
  • Mary Mohr (Doctoral student, Biomedical Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina)
  • Marissa Morales (Doctoral student, Chemical Engineering, University of New Hampshire)
  • Ricardo Noriega (Doctoral student, Biochemistry, University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus)
  • Ayokunle Olanrewaju (Postdoctoral fellow, Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington)
  • Tolulope Perrin-Stowe (Doctoral student, Conservation Biology/Population Genetics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Sienna Pyle (Undergraduate student, Biomedical Engineering, University of Delaware)
  • Gabriel Rodriguez Vazquez (Doctoral student, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Universidad Central del Caribe)
  • Crystal Ruiz-Irizarry (Doctoral student, Biochemistry, University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus)
  • Nicklas Sapp (Doctoral student, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Meharry Medical School)
  • Sanjana Sen (Doctoral student, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, University of California, Irvine)
  • George Shelton (Assistant Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Texas A&M San Antonio)
  • Fidel Soto-González (Doctoral student, Biomedical Science, Meharry Medical College)
  • Emmanuel Toroitich (Doctoral student, Chemistry, University of Virginia)
  • Jessica Torres (Master's student, Chemistry, San Diego State University)
  • Luis Velázquez-Vega (Doctoral student, Biochemistry, University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus)
  • Wendy Westbroek (Assistant Professor, Life Sciences, Salish Kootenai College)
  • Lillianne Wright (Assistant Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Claflin University)

What: A 3-day I-Corps™ Bio-Entrepreneurship Workshop, including BIO International Convention (BIO 2019​) exhibition access.

When: June 2-5, 2019 (Sunday evening reception + three full days Monday – Wednesday)

Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Convene Cira Centre, Drexel University, and BIO International Convention)

2019 Event Schedule

  • Sunday, June 2: Arrive in Philadelphia, attend evening reception, featuring a talk by Dr. Kimberly Brown (CEO, Amythest Technologies)
  • Monday, June 3: All-day workshop
  • Tuesday, June 4: Morning training, Afternoon at BIO 2019
  • Wednesday, June 5: Morning at BIO 2019, Afternoon Lessons Learned and Reflection.

Why: Work with industry professionals to learn about biotechnology commercialization, grow your professional network, and explore entrepreneurial opportunities that build on basic research. All workshop participants will work on teams with industry mentors.

How: Participant expenses, including travel, lodging, meals, and transportation were covered by the program, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors.

Workshop Learning Objectives:

  • ​​Experience working in diverse teams to identify and solve problems
  • Understand evidence-based entrepreneurship as taught by NSF I-Corps™ nodes and sites nationwide
  • Apply evidence-based entrepreneurship concepts via customer discovery at the BIO 2019 exhibition
  • Learn how to maximize efficiency in learning and networking in a conference environment
  • Learn about life sciences commercialization


Marc Sedam (marc.sedam@unh.edu​; 919-923-5120) or Susan Baxter (sbaxter@sdsu.edu; 619-594-2822).


On Sunday, June 2, 34 participants from all over the nation came together at an evening reception held at Drexel University, featuring an inspirational talk from Dr. Kimberly Brown (CEO, Amythest Technologies). The 3-day I-Corps Bio-entrepreneurship workshop started early Monday morning, June 3, 2019, and ended late Wednesday afternoon, June 5, 2019. The workshop ran in parallel to the Biotechnology International Convention (BIO 2019), one of the world's largest gathering of biotechnology industry professionals. Participants formed seven teams first thing Monday morning. Then, three experts (Ben Doranz, Bharat Reddy and Mark Engleka) set the stage with talks about CAR-T, gene therapies and entrepreneurship. After ideation and identifying problems teams thought were worth solving, the work turned to brainstorming solutions to those problems. On Tuesday and Wednesday, teams carried out learning interviews on the BIO 2019 exhibition floor. Throughout the workshop, participants worked on teams with industry professionals to learn about biotechnology commercialization, grow professional networks, and explore entrepreneurial opportunities that build on basic research.

NSF describes I-Corps as “a set of activities and programs to prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and broadens the impact of…basic-research projects." The 2019 I-Corps Bio-Entrepreneurship workshop embraced I-Corps' principles of customer discovery. All participants interviewed industry experts gathered in Philadelphia at BIO 2019. All I-Corps courses create entrepreneurial experiences “with all the pressures and demands of the real world" – so it was a participatory, fast-paced, high-energy workshop that required full-time teamwork!

Past BIO I-Corps workshop participants say:

  • ​“Be prepared for an intense 3-day workshop that will change your life."
  • “I would advise reading as you can on [I-Corps] before you arrive, although nothing is going to completely prepare you for what you are about to encounter over the next 3 days…"
  • “Be ready to work through frustrations, have an open mind, and network as much as possible!"
  • “Be prepared for the most intense but rewarding days of learning and new experiences."
  • The Genentech Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps program provided funding to cover participants' travel to and from Philadelphia, as well as lodging at University of Pennsylvania – a short ride from the Pennsylvania Convention Center where BIO 2019 was held.

Application Details

Applications were due Monday, April 15, at 5 pm eastern time.

Eligibility: The workshop was open to early-career life science researchers from groups underrepresented in biotechnology degree programs and research organizations. Assistant professors, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates are eligible to participate. The workshop was open to curious researchers and nascent academic entrepreneurs from universities nationwide. We welcomed and encouraged applications from faculty and students in all disciplines related to the current practice of biotechnology, including but not limited to life sciences, physical sciences, clinical sciences, math, computer science, agricultural science, and engineering.

Selection Criteria: Participants were selected by the organizers based on a complete online application received by the deadline, the applicants' research background, lack of previous technology transfer training, and a desire to learn about biotechnology commercialization. Selection decisions were made by the end of April so that workshop participants could make travel arrangements. Applicants were notified of selection decisions via email.

Applicants did NOT need previous commercialization experience, a developed venture concept, or any intellectual property (IP) in hand. This workshop is designed specifically for curious researchers and nascent academic entrepreneurs. The workshop is based on problems supplied by the organizers, not ideas provided by the participants. NOTE: This workshop is not useful to researchers who already have started down a commercialization pathway (attended other I-Corps workshops or courses, filed provisional patent application, licensed IP, received SBIR funding, etc.); if this is your case, we suggest you apply for courses offered by I-Corps Sites and Nodes nationwide instead.

If you have questions about the workshop or the application and selection process, contact Marc Sedam (marc.sedam@unh.edu; 919-923-5120) or Susan Baxter (sbaxter@sdsu.edu; 619-594-2822).

Sponsors and Organizers

The BIO 2019 I-Corps Bio-entrepreneurship workshop was funded with generous support from the Genentech Foundation, The United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the Ernest E. Just Institute for the Life Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Association of University Technology Managers, and BIO. The 2019 organizing committee includes members from the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Biocom Institute, CSU I-C​orps™, University of New Hampshire I-Corps​, MIT I-Corps, Penn I-Corps, NJIT I-Corps,  and Drexel University.  The workshop moves around the country with the BIO convention. Next year we'll be back in San Diego (June 7-10, 2020)!

Thanks for helping us recruit participants for the 2020 workshop; feel free to share the 2019 flyer with interested researchers.