In an effort to increase the number of woman entrepreneurs and expedite commercialization of technology projects in Northeast Ohio, leaders at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) and The University of Akron (UA) College of Business Administration announce the launch of a new Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. The program, which will start in January, will not only provide participants with an entrepreneurial-based curriculum but further aid success by providing access to experts, coaching by successful entrepreneurs, contact with cutting-edge technology and support in forming companies and licensing ideas.
The inaugural program will focus on pairing two-person teams by matching those with interests in the biomedical or alternative energy sectors with those pursuing a master of business administration (MBA) degree. Classes will be held at the College of Business Administration on Friday evenings.
The education and commercialization initiative is part of the ABIA and University of Akron Research Foundation’s (UARF) “Innovative Solutions for Invention Xceleration” (i6) project that won funding through an intense national competition 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.
“Much of the economic growth in America comes from new businesses. We want to ensure that those interested in pursuing an innovation have the ability to take control of their own destiny,” said Dr. Frank L. Douglas, ABIA President and CEO. “This program focuses on the growth of women in the fields of biomedical and alternative energy where they historically have been an under-represented group. It also helps ABIA and UA provide valuable support and knowledge to the next generation of entrepreneurs so that they may learn from the real-world successes and challenges we have experienced.”
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, interim 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 intense, semester-long Women’s Entrepreneurship Program is modeled after several successful programs nationwide. The curriculum, aimed at building the strengths and capabilities of women entrepreneurs, is being developed by ABIA and UA, in cooperation with the Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac entrepreneurship educational organization.
Each team in the ABIA-UA Women’s Entrepreneurship Program will work during the spring semester on their project by creating a business plan, exploring viability in the marketplace and completing the steps for a new technology venture to create a new business or licensable technology. The goal is to have a business launched or technology licensed within 18 to 24 months.
The pilot course aims to recruit 14 individuals. Students accepted will be exposed to business workshops, guest lectures by local and national entrepreneurs, and networking opportunities to connect with valuable industry contacts from the region and beyond. In addition to these valuable aspects of technology and business development, students will receive instruction and feedback from some of Akron’s most respected entrepreneurs, researchers and educators including Douglas, Krovi, Martin Belsky, dean of UA’s School of Law Dean and Randolph Baxter Professor of Law, and Gordon Schorr, UARF President, who also serves as President of University Innovation Ventures and a founding member of Akron Regional Change Angels (ARCH Angels).
Additional program information, as well as an application, can be found at www.abiakron.org/WEP. Deadline or application is December 15.