Missouri S&T wins grant to help women, minority scientists become entrepreneurs

Missouri University of Science and Technology, in partnership with the University of Louisville and Indiana University, will be helping women and minority faculty, staff and student innovators improve their success in securing money to commercialize their inventions.

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $225,000 grant for a pilot program, called AWARE: ACCESS: Building Innovation Capacity through Diversity. The University of Louisville is the lead institution for the grant.

“Increasing the participation of women, African-Americans, and other underrepresented groups in the technology industry is an important social and economic challenge in America,” says Malcolm Townes, associate director of Missouri S&T’s office of technology transfer and economic development. “AWARE: ACCESS will help lay the foundation for making significant progress on this issue.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, woman-and minority-owned small businesses receive less than 16 percent of federal grants (SBIR/STTR) to move their research and technology to the marketplace.

“Women and underrepresented researchers have great ideas that need to be translated into the marketplace,” says Rob Keynton, UofL’s director of research initiatives and lead investigator of the program. “Unfortunately, these innovators have had limited success in securing federal business grants and other funding. We hope to change that with this new program.”

The pilot program has four major goals for women and minority academic 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.

“We are thrilled to help Midwestern female and minority entrepreneurs become better equipped to compete for federal funding through this regional grant from the NSF,” says Padma Portonovo, program manager at the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

The National Science Foundation recognizes the tremendous potential of women and underrepresented groups in innovation,” says NSF Program Director Jesus Soriano. “We hope the AWARE: ACCESS program will enable more underserved groups to achieve their technological and commercial potential and enhance U.S. leadership in science and engineering discovery.”

AWARE: ACCESS is an acronym for Advancing Women And UnderRepresented Entrepreneurs: ACCelerating Entrepreneurial SucceSS.

For more information about the program at Missouri S&T, please contact Keith Strassner, director of technology transfer and economic development at Missouri S&T, at 573-341-6725 or email kdstrass@mst.edu.