skip to main content

Innovation is one of the most important drivers of economic growth, yet only 8% of minorities,12% of women, and < 0.05% of African Americans are recognized as innovators. However, acomprehensive analysis of nearly all doctoral dissertations from 1977 to 2015 shows that although individuals from under-represented minority groups demonstrated greater scientific innovation, their contributions are rarely further adopted compared to equally impactful contributions by majority groups. In this instance “rarely further adopted,” as noted by Hofstra et al. (1), means that the “novel contributions by gender and racial minorities are taken up by other scholars at lower rates than novel contributions by gender and racial majorities, and equally impactful contributions of gender and racial minorities are less likely to result in successful scientific careers than for majority groups.” Access to the wealth of potential innovations — going largely unnoticed and underutilized — from under-represented minority groups can be achieved, in part, by engaging science and engineering students, faculty, and staff at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in entrepreneurship through the use of the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) curriculum with adaptations to fit the education and research environments at HBCUs. A consortium of three North Carolina universities and the NYC Regional InnovationNetwork (NYCRIN) I-Corps Node established a partnership developing a specialized Lean LaunchPad training program for HBCU students, faculty, and staff. Implementation followeda three-step train-the-trainers ‘mentor-protege’ model, where new instructors ‘see one, do one, be one’ while learning to deliver the curriculum. The overarching goals of this initiativeare to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach in broadening participation in I-Corps and mainstreaming the innovation capacities of HBCUs. The authors include instructors from the collaborating institutions, who trained and served as the teaching team for regional and national cohorts. Included are the rationale for creating the program, partnership selection,instructor and team recruitment, best practices for the ‘mentor-protege’ model, and outcomes for the cohorts. This contribution is a unique opportunity for other faculty to learn from practitioners about the challenges and successes involved in creating such a new multi-institutional entrepreneurship training paradigm.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1740622 1844298
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Technology & Innovation
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Prior work finds a diversity paradox: Diversity breeds innovation, yet underrepresented groups that diversify organizations have less successful careers within them. Does the diversity paradox hold for scientists as well? We study this by utilizing a near-complete population of ∼1.2 million US doctoral recipients from 1977 to 2015 and following their careers into publishing and faculty positions. We use text analysis and machine learning to answer a series of questions: How do we detect scientific innovations? Are underrepresented groups more likely to generate scientific innovations? And are the innovations of underrepresented groups adopted and rewarded? Our analyses show that underrepresented groups produce higher rates of scientific novelty. However, their novel contributions are devalued and discounted: For example, novel contributions by gender and racial minorities are taken up by other scholars at lower rates than novel contributions by gender and racial majorities, and equally impactful contributions of gender and racial minorities are less likely to result in successful scientific careers than for majority groups. These results suggest there may be unwarranted reproduction of stratification in academic careers that discounts diversity’s role in innovation and partly explains the underrepresentation of some groups in academia. 
    more » « less
  2. Broadening participation in entrepreneurship is an important topic and critical challenge that continues to gain attention and intervention programs within the STEM entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, the challenges of people of color in STEM entrepreneurship are amplified in technology intensive and the high-growth space of STEM innovation. Researchers, practitioners, academic scholars, and policy-makers have focused on training entrepreneurs of color in an inclusive way that considers both similarities and the uniqueness of the individuals that may be interested in a career as an entrepreneur. The National Science Foundation I-Corps is one such training program. Established in 2012, the I-Corps program brings NSF-funded researchers and industry expert together in an entrepreneurship and innovation training course. The expectation is that the training will lead to a growth in the translation of “deep tech” and in the creation of entrepreneurial ventures. The I-Corps program consists of both regional training as well as a national training program. Participation in the national program requires the formation of a team that consists of a Technical Lead, Entrepreneurial Lead, and a Business Mentor. Under-represented Groups (URGs) and women participation in I-Corps has been relatively low since inception. In this paper, we use survey data to explore the relationship amongst the differing roles and their perception as a participant in the national I-Corps training program. We consider demographics and gender identity to explore the experiences of the National I-Corps program participants. Additionally, we explore the impact of the engagement of the I-Corps staff with the participants and the perception of inclusivity and biasness within the training program. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    In 2011, the U.S. National Science Foundation created the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program in an effort to explore ways to translate the results of the academic research the agency has funded into new products, processes, devices, or services and move them to the marketplace. The agency established a 3-tier structure to support the implementation of the I-Corps concept. Selected I-Corps teams consisting of the principal investigator, an entrepreneurial lead, and an industry mentor participate in a 7-week accelerated version of the Lean Launchpad methodology that was first developed by Steve Blank at Stanford University. Participating teams engage in talking to potential customers, partners, and competitors and address the challenges and the uncertainty of creating successful ventures. I-Corps sites were set up to promote selected aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems at the grantee institutions. I-Corps Regional Nodes were charged with recruiting I-Corps teams in a larger geographical area as well as stimulating a new culture of academic entrepreneurship in the institutions in their area of influence. This Topical Review describes the experiences and the impact of the New York City Regional Innovation Node, which is led by the City University of New York, in partnership with New York University and Columbia University.

    Graphic abstract 
    more » « less
  4. Prior research details the large gap that exists in the technological transfer of innovation between HBCUs and non-HBCUs. This is compounded by HBCUs being under-resourced and having a reduced focus on research and innovation. Several federal and private organizations are funding HBCU innovators aimed at transforming them into revenue-generating entrepreneurs. One of such federally funded programs, the NSF-CREST Center for Nanotechnology Research Excellence in the University of the District of Columbia is promoting innovation and intellectual property generation at HBCUs. Another federally funded program, NSF I-Corps focuses on training HBCUs innovators on the commercialization of innovations. The training aims at identifying key customer segments through interviews. This paper discusses how our innovation, the Pumpless Solar Thermal Air Heater functions and how we are promoting its commercialization using the NSF I-Corps customer discovery strategy. 
    more » « less
  5. In 2011, the National Science Foundation launched the I-Corps Program and as of today close to one hundred institutions are participating through Nodes or Sites program. While both program focus on providing training and funds to accelerate the implementation of innovative ideas to market, they have different implementation models and thus challenges. For I-Corps Sites, while each institution utilizes similar approaches on the implementation, including an I-Corps team formation, knowledge and skills training, customer discovery and guidance from experienced entrepreneurs, each ecosystem is unique because the program outcomes are closely related to the entrepreneurial culture both on campus and also in the surrounding local community. A major challenge for Sites is recruiting quality teams and having access to qualified mentors to provide guidance to teams. In this paper, we will present the implementation of a Site in a large public institution located away from a large metropolitan area, the challenges we addressed both in recruiting teams and mentors, and how the program has evolved in its current state. In addition, authors will be able to present on data from the program evaluation which will include findings from pre- and post-quizzes on knowledge of entrepreneurship terms and pre- and post-program surveys that captured changes in perceptions of entrepreneurship, such as interest in entrepreneurship, confidence in value position, and self-efficacy in entrepreneurship, marketing/business planning, and customer interview. In this paper, we will present data from five I-Corps Site cohorts representing close to fifty student teams. Since program participants represent a diverse group (33% females and 15% ethnic minorities) and also wide range of educational levels (freshman to graduate students), we are able to evaluate program impact also with respect to gender, race/ethnicity, and classification. This paper will provide valuable information for institutions interested in pursuing an I-Corps grant and to those who are already have a grant but are looking for additional ways to further enhance program impact on their campus. 
    more » « less