The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the bipartisan Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act of 2019 to provide additional training for innovators to learn how to turn their research into new products and businesses. The job-creating legislation, sponsored by Representatives Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Daniel Webster (R-FL), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Frank Lucas (R-OK), and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), enables broader participation in the successful National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program.

“I’m pleased my colleagues and I were able to get this important bill through the House with bipartisan support,” said Lipinski. “Increasing the accessibility of I-Corps is something I’ve long supported because it allows us to ensure the money we invest in research and development will spur job growth and boost our return on investment. This bill has been endorsed by a wide range of technology, venture capital, and academic stakeholders, and we’re optimistic it will become law.”

I-Corps connects scientists and engineers with the technological, entrepreneurial, and business communities necessary to move discoveries from the laboratory to the market. The most successful federal program of its kind, since 2012 I-Corps has trained over 1,300 teams, led to the formation of 644 startup companies, and resulted in over $300 million in follow-on funding raised.

“This bill expands the time-tested I-Corps program to help scientists, engineers and others that develop innovative products be more successful in getting those products to the market,” said Webster. “The new course will focus on the essential skills of starting a successful and scalable business. We know small businesses are the backbone of our economy and our chief job creators.  With the assistance of this course, the next creative mind is better equipped to open that next small business and achieve success.”

The Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act of 2019 expands the eligible pool of applicants for the I-Corps program, allowing the participation of aspiring entrepreneurs who have already demonstrated their merit by being awarded Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer grants from a federal agency.

“I am so pleased to see this important legislation pass the House,” said Johnson, chairwoman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. “Finding ways to maximize the benefits of federally funded research is critical to U.S. competitiveness in the global market. Unfortunately, too many innovative ideas do not make it to the commercialization phase. This bill will help increase those odds. I thank Mr. Lipinski for his leadership on this bipartisan legislation and look forward to working with him to see it through to the President’s desk.”

“I-Corps gives researchers the tools they need to take their discoveries from the lab and turn them into valuable commercial products and businesses,” said Lucas, ranking member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. “At Oklahoma State University we’ve seen I-Corps’ success first hand, where it is a critical component of a support system for business startups. This bill expanding the I-Corps program fosters small business growth in innovative technologies and I look forward to moving it forward.”

The bill also authorizes a “Phase II” I-Corps program that would provide additional hands-on, immersive learning classes for participants who have already gone through the current I-Corps training. This “Phase II” course would help entrepreneurs develop business plans to the point where they are ready to attract venture capital funding.

“Since the NSF I-corps Program was created in 2011, more than 600 startups have been formed through the various I-corps sites including in my home state of Ohio at The University of Akron, University of Toledo, and my alma mater The Ohio State University," said Rep. Gonzalez. “As we confront the economic challenges of the 21st century — it will be our innovators and entrepreneurs who will create solutions to these seemingly intractable problems by channeling the entrepreneurial spirit and force of will that has driven our country to its greatest economic heights. The Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act safeguards our economy by empowering future generations of entrepreneurs in all corners of our country to turn their wildest dreams into our collective achievements.”

The Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act has been endorsed by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, I-Corps Curriculum Developer and Stanford University Professor Steve Blank, I-Corps founding program officer and M34 Capital CEO Dr. Errol Arkilic, the National Venture Capital Association, the Council on Government Relations, and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

Companion legislation, S.118, has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Todd Young (R-IN).