Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Todd Young, R-Indiana, introduced on Nov. 27 the Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act of 2018.

This bipartisan bill encourages broader participation in the successful National Science Foundation Innovation Corps program and provides additional training for innovators to learn how to turn their research into a company.

“Training our most promising entrepreneurs to navigate the transition from the laboratory to the marketplace supports U.S.-grown startups and small businesses and increases our competitiveness on the global stage,” said Coons. “We wisely invest billions of taxpayer dollars every year into scientific research and development, and this legislation builds a bridge for our best research to directly benefit society.”

“Entrepreneurs fuel Indiana’s small business community and have the power to transform our lives,” said Young. “This legislation will support Hoosier entrepreneurs by investing in research and innovation and empowering individuals to turn their ideas into products and businesses.”

I-Corps connects scientists and engineers with the technological, entrepreneurial and business communities necessary to move discoveries from the laboratory to the market. The Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act of 2018 expands the eligible pool of applicants for the I-Corps program, allowing the participation of aspiring entrepreneurs that have already demonstrated their merit by being awarded Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer grants from any federal agency.

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.

A similar bill, led by Reps. Dan Lipinski, D-Illinois; and Daniel Webster, R-Florida, was endorsed by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and by I-Corps founding program officer and M34 Capital CEO Errol Arkilic. That bill passed the House in April.