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New program, WE-Empower, to encourage women entrepreneurs

on June 30, 2022

A new program, funded by the Strategic Priorities Fund, seeks to provide a year-round mentorship program for women and underrepresented principal investigators, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students and training in technology transfer, research commercialization, intellectual property, and entrepreneurship.

The program was a result of an equity, diversity, and inclusion assessment that identified a gap in the number of disclosures of innovation with lead female principal investigators.

Piloted by WORLDiscoveries, the business development arm of a research partnership between Western, Robarts Research Institute and Lawson, the WE-Empower program, joins other programming like the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship and Graduate Student Innovation Scholars to help promote the commercialization of research innovations coming from our partner institutions.

WE-Empower will provide training and funding to 30 female identifying, Black, Indigenous or other equity-deserving group researchers in its inaugural year which starts in September with recruitment starting this July.

Devised in three distinct phases (Ideation, Innovation and Technology Mobilization), this program will include a series of presentations and networking events given by leaders in the technology transfer field all guided towards practical education.

Researchers will be paired with a dedicated Business Development Manager at WORLDiscoverie; mentors and related-industry professionals; and patent agents and intellectual property specialists to discuss patentability and develop an intellectual property strategy for their projects.

Entrepreneurship is also a key focus on the program. Participants will receive training and support in starting a company, building a team, and bringing their product to market. Various aspects of entrepreneurship which include market research, value proposition, pitching, developing minimum viable products, business modeling, building a viable financial model for a startup, fundraising and marketing strategy will be covered.

The program is also an opportunity for the researchers to network and seek mentorship with industry leaders.

“WE-Empower is an ambitious program that aims to contribute and further Western’s strategic plan commitments on all 3 pillars,” said Souzan Armstrong, Executive Director for WORLDiscoveries and lead recipient of the grant. 

Greater Impact.

By providing our scholars with a platform to learn more about research commercialization and entrepreneurship, we are creating more value for a Western graduate globally.

People community and Culture.

With the program dedicated to women in technology and underrepresented groups, we are facilitating a path to create a more equitable and inclusive Western community.

Western’s Place in the world.

By innovating and supporting the development of new technologies, IP protection from diverse research areas on campus we are creating a platform for industry and the world to engage with Western researchers.

The program launches in September 2022 and is undergoing recruitment. Women and underrepresented principal investigators, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students from across campus are encouraged to fill out the expression of interest form on the WE-Empower webpage to apply.

“The WE-Empower program provides an opportunity to support women and underrepresented groups in overcoming the barriers that prevent them from disclosing and commercializing their research or being an entrepreneur,” said Saqib Sachani, the Business Development Manager at WORLDiscoveries responsible for developing the curriculum of the program. “This program also provides training and internship opportunities for post-docs and students as an alternate career once they complete their studies.”

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