Inaugural Class of Women’s Entrepreneurship Program Announced

AKRON, Ohio / January 17, 2011 – The Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA), in concert with The University of Akron College of Business Administration, The University of Akron School of Law and the University of Akron Research Foundation (UARF), today announced the inaugural members of its first ever Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, a collaborative effort to increase the number of woman entrepreneurs and expedite commercialization of technology projects in Northeast Ohio.

Led by ABIA President and CEO Dr. Frank L. Douglas, the program involves faculty working across a diverse spectrum of expertise from the ABIA, college of business, school of law, and UARF with guidance from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac entrepreneurship educational organization.

“We are excited to bring together some extraordinary individuals, and will lend the support to match their talent to foster innovation and the creation of new businesses here in Northeast Ohio,” said Douglas. “The purpose of this pilot class is to empower those with an entrepreneurial spirit with the opportunity, matched with a supportive and structured environment, to catalyze economic growth and the number of start-ups in the community.”

The 16 students come from diverse fields including business, computer science and all parts of the engineering spectrum. When the program commences on January 28, students will be paired in two-person teams by matching individuals with scientific experience and innovative technology concepts with those pursuing a master in business administration degree.  Projects addressed by program participants will cover a range of endeavors related to the biomedical and alternative energy sectors.

Each team will work during the spring semester to evaluate the commercial viability of their team’s idea, prepare a business case and to ultimately create a new business or licensable technology. The goal of the program is to commercialize products stemming from the program within 18 to 24 months.

Introduced last fall, the WEP program is meant to serve as a launching pad for area entrepreneurs who want to develop solutions and technologies, as well as the skills necessary to launch innovative business in the region. The competitive program offers not only an entrepreneurial education, providing the opportunity to engage with successful entrepreneurs and learn from their shared pool of knowledge, but also provides a chance to connect with industry leaders, a mentoring network and potential investors.

“The goal is to provide hands-on experience with the technology commercialization process in taking a great idea, exploring it in the real world, and then moving forward to start and grow a company,” said Dr. Ravi Krovi, dean of UA’s College of Business Administration.  “With this program we are able to offer training, key support and the safety net of proven entrepreneurs to dramatically accelerate the innovation and commercialization process.”

The education and commercialization initiative is part of the ABIA and University of Akron Research Foundation’s (UARF) “Innovative Solutions for Invention Xceleration” project that won funding through an intense National i6 Challenge held by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The ABIA-UARF’s i6 project was one of only six funded in the country.

  • Classes for the program will be held at the College of Business Administration on Friday evenings.
  • Members of the inaugural class include:
  • Nathaniel Blasdel, MS in Chemical Engineering Candidate, The University of Akron
  • Kathryn Burns, MS, Mechanical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University
  • Bryan Dickens, MBA Candidate, The University of Akron
  • Christine Flick, Senior Engineer, Medical Device Development Center, ABIA
  • Courtney Gras, BS in Electrical Engineering Candidate, The University of Akron
  • Jessica Kemppainen, PhD, The University of Michigan/Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Translational Orthopaedic Research Lab, The University of Akron
  • Karen Licona, MBA Candidate, The University of Akron
  • Dias Linton, PhD, Chemistry, University of Tennesse-Knoxville/Researcher, Department of Polymer Science, The University of Akron
  • Kathy Liszka, PhD, Computer Science, Kent State University/Professor of Computer Science, The University of Akron
  • Susan Lowery, BS, Chemical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute/ Web-based enterprise Consultant
  • Kelly Mackey, MBA, The University of Akron
  • Meredith May, MBA Candidate, The University of Akron
  • Vivek Narayan, MBA Candidate, The University of Akron
  • H. Stephanie Schreiber, MBA Candidate, The University of Akron
  • Lel Somogyi, MS, Management, Case Western Research University
  • Tom Vo, MS in Electrical Engineering Candidate, The University of Akron

Click here to learn more about the program.