The AWARE: ACCESS program at the University of Louisville helps women and underrepresented entrepreneurs.

The AWARE:ACCESS, or Accelerating Women and Underrepresented Entrepreneurs: Accelerate Entrepreneurial Success, program seeks to make founding a business a little easier, especially for women and underrepresented minorities.

The pilot program provides funding, networking, training and other support to entrepreneurs. Goals include helping these 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;
  • And create a regional ecosystem for entrepreneurs and sharing of best practices.

The program is funded through a National Science Foundation grant, and is a Midwest-region partnership between UofL and Indiana University. The goal is to help women and underrepresented entrepreneurs submit more competitive applications for SBIR and STTR grant funding.

Women entrepreneurs represent only 6 percent of all SBIR awardees, despite making up some 51 percent of the total population. Collective minorities represent only 10 percent of awardees, combined.

AWARE: ACCESS will introduce more minorities and women to the commercialization path by providing office space, assisting in protecting their technology and aid in the start of their small business. At UofL, modest funding is also available. For more information on available resources, see the FAQ page.


AWARE:ACCESS “will enable more underserved groups to get entrepreneurship training and achieve their technological and commercial potential, as well as help enhance U.S. leadership in science and engineering.”

— Dr. Jesus Soriano, NSF program director