Polsky Center Receives $30,000 National Science Foundation Grant For Female STEM Entrepreneurs

Yesterday, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that the University of Chicago was one of eight Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) sites and nodes across the nation that have been selected for their Inclusive Entrepreneurship Supplemental grant, which provides $30,000 supplemental awards to pilot novel approaches aimed at supporting inclusiveness in I-Corps amongst differently-abled individuals, first-generation college students, racial and ethnic minorities and women, and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs).

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago, which runs Polsky I-Corps site program at the University of Chicago, will use this supplemental grant to further empower female STEM researchers and trainees to apply innovation to their work. Part of the funding will be used to host a one-day event, “Insight to Innovation: Women in STEM Leadership,” that will educate female faculty, researchers, and students in STEM fields to learn about innovation and participating in I-Corps.

“This event will help educate women on actionable steps they can take along the entrepreneurial pathway—including participating in I-Corps,” said Starr Marcello, Executive Director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation who also runs the Polsky I-Corps program. “We have worked with a number of fantastic female entrepreneurs, and we are excited to introduce more women—no matter their background—to entrepreneurial career options.”

While a date has not yet been set for the event, it will be open to, and done in concert with, regional universities—with a goal of utilizing relationships with other area universities and have them nominate faculty, researchers, and students from their institutions to attend. 

“We welcome these efforts as a way to change culture on our campus, create networks between female innovators in the city of Chicago, and provide opportunities for teams from our institution to participate in the Polsky Center I-Corps program and the National I-Corps program,” said Christopher White, Professor of Physics and Vice Provost for Research and Academic Affairs at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

This grant is another exciting addition to the Polsky I-Corps program. Since receiving the $300,000 I-Corps site grant in 2014, the Polsky Center operates the program three times a year. To date, including the eighth and current cohort, the Polsky I-Corps program has served 78 teams and over 200 individuals. In its short time as an I-Corp site, the Polsky Center has worked with several female entrepreneurs, including Alex Niemczewski and Aviva Rosman of BallotReady, Jennifer Fried of ExplORer Surgical, Andi Hadisutjipto of Riviter, and Nikita Parikh of Anansi. This supplemental grant will enable the Polsky Center to serve and inspire more female STEM entrepreneurs through this region and beyond.