iSchool team receives I-Corps Entrepreneur Training Program grant from National Science Foundation

Dr. Marcia Mardis
Dr. Marcia Mardis

A faculty member and doctoral student from Florida State University’s School of Information are part of a three-person group that received an I-Corps Teams grant of $50,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to participate in NSF’s flagship I-Corps Entrepreneur Training Program.

The primary goal of the NSF I-Corps is to foster entrepreneurship that will enable NSF-funded PIs and graduate students to explore commercializing technology that has resulted from NSF-funded research.

Jennifer Wood
Jennifer Wood

School of Information associate professor Marcia Mardis is the principal investigator (PI) and doctoral student Jennifer Wood is the entrepreneurial lead (EL) for the project entitled, “Web2MARC 2.0: Investigating the Viability of an Integrated Tool for Content Creation and Aggregation.”  Lawrence Tinker, Florida State entrepreneur-in-residence, will serve as mentor for the team.

“NSF is focusing on encouraging tech transfer, so that instead of NSF giving researchers grants only to finish the project and have the work end, if there’s a tool or technology that the project produces that can be taken to market, NSF wants to help researchers understand how to use the skills of entrepreneurship to make that happen,” Mardis said.

The iSchool I-Corps team will be investigating the viability of the commercialization of Web2MARC, an automatic cataloging and classification tool for educational materials developed by a Mardis-led group at Florida State and funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  Web2MARC is designed to bridge the gap between digital resources and school libraries by allowing librarians to create descriptive records for curriculum-linked digital learning resources such as videos, simulations and games.

Last year, Mardis presented the Web2MARC 2.0 concept at the Grant Assistance Program (GAP), Florida State’s version of Shark Tank, and received $15,000 to build a prototype in order to apply for the I-Corps program.

With the NSF grant, the team will be investigating commercialization of Web2MARC 2.0.

“For example, when you are browsing a web resource you like and share it with a Pinterest button or a Facebook Like! button, with Web2MARC 2.0, you’ll be able to click a button and generate and tailor a record right from the resource’s website,” Mardis said.

Wood, who Mardis says is confident and fearless, will be the voice and face of the team.  The EL for an I-Corps Team must be a student.

“Jen’s going to be doing all of our presentations and they put her on the spot on the conference calls,” Mardis said.

“When Dr. Mardis approached me about working with her on the Web2MARC 2.0 project, I knew immediately that it was something I wanted to be involved with,” Wood said.  “My background as a school librarian is a perfect match for the project, and I could see the tremendous value of Web2MARC 2.0 for K-12 education.”

Lawrence Tinker
Lawrence Tinker

Tinker, who has over 30 years of experience in research and development, will also bring a wealth of knowledge to the team.

“The NSF I-Corps Teams program is a great opportunity to foster the commercialization of NSF sponsored research through training and mentoring of researchers in innovation and entrepreneurship,” Tinker said.  “As the mentor for this project I am excited to be a part of the team and look forward to working with Marcia and Jen during the course of the program and to determining the viability of moving this technology from research to commercialization.”

At the end of the curriculum, the group will be tasked with cold calling 100 potential customers to explain the technology and see if they would find it useful.

“The I-Corps program is an amazing opportunity to explore the utility of Web2MARC 2.0 both within and beyond that K-12 environment, and take it to the next level,” Wood said.  “Personally, it is a chance for me to expand my skill set, as well as to network with industry leaders, future colleagues, and mentors at the National Science Foundation.”

“I’m eager to learn how to business people think and use that knowledge to transform the role of digital resources in our classrooms and libraries,” Mardis said.