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Apr 22 -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) invites comments to OMB by May 31, 2022 on a proposed new Program Monitoring Data Collections for the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Program. [NSF submitted package to OMB on April 29.]

The NSF I-Corps Program was started in 2011 to develop and nurture a national innovation ecosystem built upon fundamental research that guides the output of scientific and engineering discoveries closer to the development of technologies, products, and services that benefit society.

The goal of the I-Corps Program is to use experiential education to help entrepreneurial researchers reduce the time necessary to translate promising ideas from the laboratory bench to widespread implementation. In addition to accelerating technology translation, the NSF I-Corps program also seeks to reduce the risk associated with technology development conducted without insight into industry requirements and challenges.

The NSF I-Corps Program is designed to support the commercialization of “deep technologies,” those revolving around fundamental discoveries in science and engineering. The program addresses the skill and knowledge gaps associated with the transformation of basic research into deep technology ventures. The program enables entrepreneurial researchers in deep technologies to receive support in the form of entrepreneurial education, industry mentoring, and funding to accelerate the translation of knowledge derived from fundamental research into emerging products and services that may attract subsequent third-party funding. I-Corps training and infrastructure together represent an important investment for NSF and the Nation, as directed by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA), Public Law 114-329, Section 601.

These selected researchers form teams and participate in the I-Corps Teams Program Curriculum. An I-Corps team includes the Entrepreneurial Lead (EL), Technical Lead (TL) or the Principal Investigator (PI), and the Industrial Mentor (IM). During the training program, the team is expected to spend significant time conducting active customer discovery, including interviewing potential customers and potential partners. The outcomes of I-Corps Teams projects will be threefold: (1) A decision on a clear path forward based on an assessment of the business model, (2) substantial first-hand evidence for or against product-market fit, with the identification of customer segments and corresponding value propositions, and (3) a narrative of a compelling technology demonstration for potential partners.

The NSF I-Corps program requests the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval of this clearance that will allow the programs to improve the rigor of our surveys for evaluations and program monitoring, as well as to initiate new data collections to monitor the immediate, intermediate, and long-term outcomes of our investments by periodically surveying the I-Corps teams and their members. The clearance will allow the program to rigorously develop, test, and implement survey instruments and methodologies.

The primary objective of this clearance is to allow the NSF I-Corps program to collect characteristics, inputs, outputs, and outcomes information from the I-Corps teams funded by the program. This collection will enable the evaluation of the impacts on the four themes as outlined in the FY 2021 NSF I-Corps biennial report to Congress:

1. Training an Entrepreneurial Workforce
2. Translating Technologies
3. Nurturing an Innovation Ecosystem
4. Enabling Economic Impact

The second, related objective is to improve our questionnaires and/or data collection procedures through pilot tests and other survey methods used in these activities. Under this clearance a variety of surveys could be pre-tested, modified, and used.

Following standard OMB requirements, NSF will submit to OMB an individual request for each survey project we undertake under this clearance. NSF will request OMB approval in advance and provide OMB with a copy of the questionnaire and materials describing the project.

Data collected will be used for planning, management, evaluation, and audit purposes. Summaries of output and outcome monitoring data are used to respond to queries from Congress, the public, NSF's external merit reviewers who serve as advisors, including Committees of Visitors (COVs), NSF's Office of the Inspector General, and other pertinent stakeholders. These data are needed for effective administration, program monitoring, evaluation, outreach/marketing roadmaps, and for strategic reviews and measuring attainment of NSF's program and strategic goals, as identified by the President's Accountable Government Initiative, the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010, Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, and NSF's Strategic Plan.

All questions asked in the data collection are questions that are NOT included in the annual, final or outcomes reports, and the intention is to ask the grantees even beyond the period of performance on voluntary basis in order to capture impacts of the research that occur during and beyond the life of the award.

Grantees will be invited to submit information on a periodic basis to support the management of the NSF I-Corps investment portfolio. Once the survey tool is tested, grantees will be invited to submit these indicators to NSF via data collection methods that include, but are not limited to, online surveys, interviews, focus groups, phone interviews, etc. These indicators are both quantitative and descriptive and may include, for example, the characteristics of project personnel, sources of funding and support, knowledge transfer and technology translation activities, patents, licenses, publications, descriptions of significant advances, and other outcomes of the funded efforts.

The data collected will be used for NSF internal and external reports, historical data, program level studies and evaluations, and for securing future funding for the maintenance and growth of the NSF I-Corps program. Evaluation designs could make use of metadata associated with the award and other characteristics to identify a comparison group to evaluate the impact of the program funding and other relevant research questions.

I-Corps Program webpage: https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/i-corps/
Submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202204-3145-002  Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-08581

For AEA members wishing to submit comments to OMB, the AEA Committee on Economic Statistics offers "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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