Exploring Public Values Implications of the I-Corps Program

Jan Youtie, Philip Shapira

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This paper examines how the concept of public values can be operationalized in an ongoing public initiative to stimulate innovation in an emerging technology. Our study focuses on Innovation Corps (I-Corps) –a program initiated in 2011 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to accelerate the process of commercializing science-driven discoveries. The I-Corps method has since spread rapidly across multiple US agencies. Separately, there has also been heightened attention to the early anticipation and mitigation of the implications of emerging science and technology. Drawing on the case of nanotechnology, the paper considers how public values related to nanotechnology commercialization can be integrated alongside the fast start-up procedures embedded in I-Corps. We use a public values framework to pose societal-impact questions that can be probed in parallel with the current I-Corps process, highlighting values such as identification of societal problems that the technology might potentially address; types of potential customers likely to be overlooked; groups who might oppose the application as well as those who might support it; and potential environmental, health, and safety risks. The paper discusses the challenges of adding specifications related to equity as well as safety in efforts to foster rapid commercialization and considers how these can be integrated within the I-Corps approach.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Technology Transfer
Early online date10 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute of Innovation Research


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