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NCI Advancing Innovations through Mentorship (AIM)

*Fully Virtual Training in 2021*

NCI's Advancing Innovations through Mentorship (AIM) is inspired by the I-Corps at NIH™ program and uses experiential education to help researchers gain valuable insight on how to translate technologies from the lab into the marketplace. The AIM curriculum integrates scientific inquiry & industrial discovery, in a highly data-driven way, to enable the transformation of invention to impact.

NCI Advancing Innovations through Mentorship Flyer with course and schedule information

What is AIM?

The goals of AIM are to advance scientists’ focus beyond the laboratory, accelerate the development of a new technology, and to help identify prospective partners. Teams will learn to identify valuable product opportunities from their research, gain skills in market analysis with guidance from industry experts, and learn about Customer Discovery and the Business Model Canvas.

Teams will be encouraged to identify an initial indication/application of their technology, learn from future customers what is most important, and evaluate the size of their market opportunity. This course is intended to provide teams the opportunity to learn more about the commercial sector for which they are developing research solutions.

AIM Deliverables

Teams are expected to interview at least 30 individuals during the course of the program with 15 completed by the midpoint. Planning is critical to success; please make interviews the team's top priority. The information gleaned from these interviews will form the basis of your market analysis and can help guide the trajectory of your technology's research & development. Teams will need to keep log of interviews completed, including name, title, organization, and key learnings. Every team is unique and your instructor will work with you to tailor your Customer Discovery.

Feedback from NIH Scientists who joined the AIM Pilot in 2020:

  • ”[AIM] was an eye-opener. It offered a completely different perspective
  • “Scientists look at the world differently and learning about the commercial side is important
  • “[It was] invaluable to have our Tech Transfer Manager on our team”

Application Deadline

Closed for 2021


  1. Applicants must be members of one of these NIH Institutes/Centers (IC) or organizations: 
    • Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR)
    • National Cancer Institute (NCI)
    • National Eye Institute (NEI)
    • National Institute of Minority Health and Disparities (NIMHD)
    • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
    • NIH Clinical Center (NIH CC)
    • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
    • National Institute on Aging (NIA)
    • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
    • National Library of Medicine (NLM)
    • Center for Information Technology (NIH CIT)
  2. Applicants must form a team of 3-5
    • Teams are typically formed around an Entrepreneurial Lead (usually the inventor of the technology or lead of the project, but it can also be someone else working closely on the project), Principal Investigator (PI), Technology Transfer Manager (TTM), and Additional Support (anyone else who would like to learn about market analysis and help support the project).
      • PIs & TTMs
        • Depending on their availability/preference, PIs & TTMs may participate as full members or as mentors to the team (attend office hours and workshops, as needed and be available for consultation). More information on time committment for full members and mentors is below.
      • Additional Support
        • If you are interested in AIM, but need additional support, TTC can identify 1-2 additional team members from our office

Time Commitment

  • 1-hour long Orientation
  • 3 half-day Workshops
  • 3 Office Hours with the instructor (during weeks without workshops)
  • Identify and interview industry stakeholders
  • Full Team Members vs. Mentors
    • The total estimated time commitment is ~8 hours per week for full team members and 1 or 4 hours per week (depending on the week) for mentors (includes workshops and office hours)

Application Details

To apply, submit via email ( the following information:

  • Select Team Members (3-5)
    • For each team member, include 
      • Full Name & degree(s), if applicable
      • Professional title (Principal Investigator, Staff Scientist/Clinician, Post-doc, etc.)
      • NIH Institute/Center, Lab/branch
      • Assign one of the following roles to each Team Member
        • Entrepreneurial Lead 
        • PI - Indicate if they will be a Full Member or Mentor
        • TTM - Indicate if they will be a Full Member or Mentor 
        • Additional Support - Indicate if team member is from a lab (and include lab info) or NCI's Technology Transfer Center (TTC)
  • Select a Technology:
    • [Employee Invention Report (EIR)] - Has an EIR been filed for this technology?
    • [E#] - If a patent application is filed/issued, include the NIH Reference E# (ex. E-123-2021)
    • [Title] - Include a brief title of your technology
    • [Development] - Are you interested in finding co-development partners?
    • **If you have an EIR submitted or patent filed for your technology, your application is now complete!**
  • ONLY if there has NOT been an EIR or patent application filed, continue with the next section
    • Include a one page (max) description of your project including answers to the following sections:
      • [Title] - Include a brief title of your project 
      • [Problem Statement] - What is the problem that your project will solve?
      • [Description] - How will your project solve the problem? What are the potential applications of your future technology?
      • [Advantages over Competitors] - Are there other solutions that currently solve the problem? If so, why do we need your solution? How will your project better solve the problem? 
      • [Development] - Are you interested in finding co-development partners?
Monday, August 2, 2021