I-Corps Energy and Transportation

1. Make a plan

2. Meet dozens of industry players, VCs and investors

3. Get funding and go to market faster


I-Corps Energy and Transportation offers a customized curriculum to help teams of participating researchers discover the commercial potential of their technology, build a business model, and garner insights from leaders in the energy and transportation industries. Well performing teams have a chance a being recommended to the National I-Corps program where they will work through the entire business model canvas and receive a $50,000 grant.

Who Should Participate

  • University and national lab researchers, including post-doctoral and graduate (PhD) researchers
  • Corporate researchers interested in spin-off
  • Research and development-focused entrepreneurs

Applications are now closed. 

Investigate and communicate the commercial potential of your technology
  • Learn how to transfer your knowledge and IP into commercially viable products and processes attractive to industry, federal government, and investors
  • Acquire business tools that will help position you for federal and private funding opportunities, strategic licensing arrangements, or new company creation
Expand your network
  • Gain in-depth exposure to industry, entrepreneurs, investors, federal government and economic development professionals
  • Collaborate with others and learn best practices ranging from new funding sources to working with industry on collaborative R&D
Develop a deeper knowledge of your market and customer
  • Engage in an intensive, world-class curriculum that places you directly in touch with potential customers
  • Participate in highly interactive, expert-led, market and technology discussions

Kick off Session Dates:

May 9 & 10, 2017 | NextEnergy Center, Detroit
(followed by two interactive cohort webinars and two
one-on-one remote office hour sessions with instructors)

The program will culminate in customer discovery activities at the following events:

Energy Teams
Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo
June 25-28, 2017 | Austin Texas

Transportation Teams
CAR Management Briefings Seminar
July 31 – August 3, 2017 | Traverse City, Michigan


  • Energy Efficiency
  • Renewables (solar, wind, hydro, bioenergy, geothermal, etc.)
  • Smart Grid & Microgrid Technologies


  • Engine Technology, Fuel Efficiency & Alternative Fuels
  • Robotics & Autonomy
  • Advanced Mobility, Transportation Electrification & Multimodal Options (bus, e-bike, etc.)

Energy & Transportation

  • Advanced Manufacturing Processes
  • Advanced Materials (metals, composites, biomaterials, etc.)
  • Electronics & Power Electronics
  • Energy Storage & Batteries
  • Information/Communication Technologies & IoT (software, sensors, controls, data analytics, etc.)
  • Smart City Technologies


Each team should consist of three members made up of one participant from each category below:

  • Principle Investigator (PI): Faculty Member, Senior Researcher, PostDoc or Senior Executive
  • Entrepreneurial Lead (EL): MBA, MS, PhD, PostDoc or Product Manager
  • Mentor: Experienced business individual (if no mentor is available, we can help you secure one)

Roles & Responsibilities

You will be required to participate in the following:

  • Attend the two day on-site kick-off event
  • Attend the two webinars during the intermediary weeks
  • Attend the conference relevant to your team
  • Complete all customer discovery goals

Time Commitment

Approximately 75 hours:

  •  Pre-training webinar (1 hours on April 25)
  • Preparation ( 5 hours before May 8)
  • Welcome reception (2 hours on May 8)
  • Training (22 hours on May 9 & 10)
  •  Webinars & other training (25 hours)
  •  Conference (20 hours)


Jean Redfield

Jean Redfield is President and CEO at NextEnergy. Redfield previously served as the company’s Vice President, Public Policy Programs, leading public-sector initiatives. Her experience includes multiple leadership roles at DTE Energy as well as consulting roles at McKinsey and Company. Her work has primarily involved strategy development, leading major change initiatives and supporting companies as they transform through major dislocations in their respective industries. She has worked in various industries (investment banking, chemicals, aerospace/defense, pharmaceutical and biotech start-ups, and energy) in the United States, Europe, Brazil, India, and China. She has also served as co-owner and CFO of Fordsell Machine Products, a precision machine products company, from 1994 to the present. Redfield holds a B.A. in biology from Washington University, St. Louis, a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Memphis, and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Dave Anderson

David Anderson is Director, Venture Services at NextEnergy. In this role, he provides venture support services to early-stage and established small businesses, and manages NextEnergy’s participation in the National Incubator Initiative for Clean Energy (NIICE), a national network of leading clean tech incubators. Prior to joining NextEnergy, Anderson was a co-founder of Bamboo Detroit, Detroit’s first co-working space for entrepreneurs. Anderson is an electrical engineer with experience in advanced battery systems with Fortune 500 companies Bosch Battery Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems. In 2015 he was named as one of Crain’s Detroit Business 20 in their 20s. In addition to his role with NextEnergy, Anderson serves as technology chair on the Board of Trustees for the Detroit Historical Society, strategic advisor to Detroit-based, tech company LavLabs Inc. and as a technology strategist for Healthy Detroit. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan.

Clay Phillips

Clay Phillips’ professional career in the automotive industry concentrated on strategic intelligence, due diligence, alliance management and new business development. As an executive at GM’s R&D group, he started and led a technology intelligence team and a new business development team focused on commercialization and partnering strategies for internal startups. He was a founding member of GM’s corporate venture capital arm, GM Ventures. Since 2014, Clay has been advising startups and larger firms working through disruptive innovation challenges. He runs a Michigan-based consulting firm, serves as a Vice President with San Francisco-based LaunchPad Central, and is an adjunct instructor for the Innovation Corps program. He holds a B.A. degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and an M.B.A. from Columbia University in New York.

Aaron Crumm

Aaron Crumm is the co-founder of Adaptive Materials Incorporated (AMI), a start-up that sold for $23 million in 2010 to Ultra Electronics. Crumm’s work attracted more than $50 million in contracts to support the growth of AMI, and AMI has been recognized for its dynamic growth with Ann Arbor SPARK FastTrack, Inc. 500, and Inc. 100 Energy Company awards. Prior to founding AMI, Crumm earned his B.S. in nuclear engineering from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in material science from the University of Michigan.

I-Corps Energy & Transportation provides many opportunities to make valuable connections that can help you on your path to commercialization. Past participants were able to interact face-to-face with representatives from these established companies who were on-site during the program:

  • 5 Lakes Energy
  • Adaptive Materials Incorporated
  • Advanced Battery Concepts
  • ARPA-E
  • Arsenal Venture Partners
  • Automation Alley
  • Bedrock Real Estate
  • Bosch
  • Braemar Energy Ventures
  • Chrysler
  • Cisco
  • City of Detroit
  • CMS Energy
  • Coady Diemar
  • Comet, LLC
  • Connected Vehicle Trade Association
  • Consumers Energy
  • Cornerstone Research Group
  • Crow’s Nest Consulting, LLC
  • David Stout Associates
  • Delphi
  • Detroit Venture Partners
  • Dow Chemical Ventures
  • Dow Corning
  • DTE Energy
  • Eaton
  • ENERGY Foundry
  • EVAOS, Inc.
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
  • Flagship Ventures
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Founder
  • General Dynamics Land Systems
  • General Motors
  • GM Global Research
  • GM Ventures
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Gross and Co.
  • Growth Capital Symposium
  • Hepta Control Systems
  • Huron River Ventures
  • IBM
  • Inmatech
  • Invest Detroit
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Logicoul Solutions
  • Magna International
  • Mercury Fund
  • Michigan Alternative & Renewable Energy Center
  • Michigan Economic Development Corporation
  • Michigan Small Business Technology Development Center
  • MI-Light: Michigan Photonics Cluster
  • National Science Foundation
  • Navitas Systems
  • NextEnergy
  • Oakland University
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Pacific Private Capital, LLC
  • PAX Water Technologies
  • Renaissance Venture Capital Fund
  • Rock Ventures
  • Search Lite
  • Siemens Ventures
  • Sprint
  • Tata Motors
  • TechTown
  • The SearchLite
  • Third Shore Group
  • Toyota
  • Toyota Research Institute, NA
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship
  • University of Michigan M-TRAC Transportation
  • University of Michigan SMART
  • US DOE SunShot Initiative
  • Varnum LLP
  • Ystrategies
  • Zipcar

The NextEnergy program exceeded my expectations and provided a significant amount of learning. As a professor, I was able to learn new skills that will help me in proposal writing and developing tech that can impact the marketplace.

University of Tulsa – SolNano: Plasmonic Nanoparticle Enhanced Liquid

NextEnergy has been a wonderful partner and mentor for us over the past few years. I was lucky enough to participate in NextEnergy’s I-Corps which was an incubator program that helped us really think through our product offering back when we were an internal project at Quicken Loans, and helped us to figure out who we were as an external facing company. After graduating from that program and leveraging the mentorship that we received through NextEnergy, we’ve been able to expand in the last year across the country. We now have customers nationwide.


Overall, the I-Corps program served as a great catalyst for our team to validate our market and expand our network. The skills we learned here are going to serve us well with our current technology and in future endeavors.

Sandia National Lab – Twistact

One of the most incredible fast-paced learning experiences I’ve had and has definitely helped inform me of questions that need to be answered to move forward.

University of Michigan: Magnetic Beacon Localization

The I-Corps program at NextEnergy felt like it compressed six months of MBA knowledge into six weeks. Participating in the program helped me climb the commercialization learning curve more quickly and gave me the tools to discover our first market. Having market insight, from interviews during the I-Corps program, strengthened the tech-to market section of our next proposal and now we have funding to build a prototype.

University of Michigan School of Engineering: Solid-State Batteries Project

The program did an excellent job of presenting a multitude of business of business concepts suitable for any business idea.

Black Pine Engineering

This program enabled us to gain a much deeper understanding of how the industry works. I was not expecting to get this wealth of info.

University of Houston