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, explore the FAQ below.
This program is specifically designed for women and underrepresented entrepreneurs within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, with a university lead investigator. Applications are invite-only. More information on the applications process is available here.
Applications to the AWARE:ACCESS program are accepted on an invitation-only basis. Those interested in applying (No longer Enrolling) can contact the UofL program’s administrative offices via the email address on this page. This is a competitive program, specifically designed to boost women and underrepresented entrepreneurs within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. Applicants must have a UofL lead investigator. Applications will be reviewed for merit, commercial viability and other factors. Applicants must answer the following questions in their pre-proposal application:
- Describe the problem you will address and the market?
- What is your solution?
- Describe any competitive products currently in use (the gold standard).
- How is your product unique and is it patentable? If not patentable is other proprietary protection likely?
- Who is on your team? Tell us about the unique expertise on the team that will help you address the market problem and commercialize your technology.
Some participants in the UofL program will receive seed funding through the Commercialization Diversity Supplement Fund ($4,000) and Phase Double Zero programs ($2,000). This seed fund will offset the costs of entrepreneurial training, proof-of-concept development, prototyping, conferences and fees that disproportionately affect women and underrepresented entrepreneurs.
UofL offers an established entrepreneurial leave program to its faculty pursuing SBIR/STTR support, one of the most flexible and entrepreneur-friendly programs of this kind in the nation.
UofL offers co-working space on the downtown J.D. Nichols Campus for Innovation and Entrepreneurship which is open to our community, offers free high-speed internet, refreshments and working space for innovators and their collaborators.
UofL's talent matching series is for entrepreneurs and people interested in joining their leadership teams. This program will afford women and underrepresented entrepreneurs connection to competitive project teams and mentors.
Yes. There will be networking opportunities throughout the program, including at the annual Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Summit held in Indianapolis, Ind. The conference will also educate on the commercialization process and why women and underrepresented minorities should pursue it.
UofL has strong ties with the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC), responsible for administering Kentucky’s SBIR/STTR Matching Funds Program (up to $150k Phase I and $500k Phase II), the Kentucky SBIR/STTR Phase Zero and Phase Double Zero Funds Program and the Kentucky Commercialization Fund for faculty commercialization efforts. They fully support the university in this effort and will be instrumental in assisting UofL in mentoring its partner institutions on the Phase Zero and Double Zero funding mechanisms.