The National Science Foundation has awarded a group of Midwestern universities funding for a pilot program aimed at helping female and minority innovators with commercialization. The $225,000 grant will be used by Indiana University, the University of Louisville and Missouri University of Science and Technology to develop the program.
The program, known as AWARE: ACCESS: Building Innovation Capacity Through Diversity, focuses on women and minority faculty, staff and students who are looking to secure funding to commercialize their inventions. The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and the IU Research and Technology Corp. will host a commercialization and entrepreneurship summit in Indianapolis this fall in support of the program.
"Startup companies are an important stage of the translational research spectrum, so this initiative is key to the Indiana CTSI’s mission of accelerating research to commercialization, and to increase the representation of women and minorities in this process,” said Padma Portonovo, the co-principal investigator on the grant for IU and program manager at Indiana CTSI.
IU says the program has four major goals for female and minority innovators: Identify, engage and mentor them to pursue entrepreneurship as a career; Expand educational, experiential and networking opportunities; Enhance their competitiveness for federal grant applications; Create a regional ecosystem for entrepreneurs and sharing of best practices by UofL, IU and Missouri S&T.
NSF Program Director Jesus Soriano says the pilot program will enable more underserved groups to achieve their potential.