Western News – New Western program aims to empower women innovators

A new program led by WORLDiscoveries is creating opportunities for women and underrepresented researchers to turn their innovations into business opportunities.

Funded by the Strategic Priorities Fund, the new WE-Empower program provides year-round mentorship to principal investigators, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students who identify as Black, Indigenous or diverse women. underrepresented groups, with support and training on technology transfer, commercialization of research, intellectual property and entrepreneurship.

The program is the result of an equity, diversity and inclusion assessment that identified a gap in the number of innovation disclosures among female principal investigators, said Souzan Armstrong, executive director of WORLDiscoveries and main beneficiary of the grant.

“With the program dedicated to women in technology and underrepresented groups, we are paving the way for the creation of a more equitable and inclusive Western community,” she said.

WORLDiscoveries is the business development arm of a research partnership between Western, the Robarts Research Institute and the Lawson Health Research Institute. WE-Empower joins other Western programs that help promote the commercialization of research innovations, including the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship and Graduate Student Innovation Scholars.

“WE-Empower is an ambitious program that aims to contribute to and advance Western’s strategic plan commitments across the three pillars: increased impact, community and culture, and Western’s place in the world,” said Armstrong.

Starting in September, WE-Empower will provide training and funding to 30 scholars who identify as women, black, Indigenous, or other underrepresented scholars. Recruitment begins in July.

“The WE-Empower program provides an opportunity to help women and underrepresented groups overcome the barriers that prevent them from disclosing and commercializing their research or being an entrepreneur,” said Saqib Sachani, Business Development Manager at WORLDiscoveries, responsible for developing the program. from the program. “This program also provides training and internship opportunities for post-docs and students as an alternative career after graduation.”

Designed 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 field of technology transfer, all geared towards hands-on training.

Researchers will be paired with a WORLDiscoveries Business Development Manager; 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 part of the program, where we will be working very closely with Western’s Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship,” said Armstrong. Participants will receive training and support to start a business, build a team and bring their product to market. Various aspects of entrepreneurship will be covered including market research, value proposition, pitching, developing minimum viable products, business modelling, building a viable financial model for a start-up, fundraising and marketing strategy.

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

“By giving our scholars a platform to learn about research commercialization and entrepreneurship, we create more value for a Western graduate in the world,” Armstrong said.

As WORLDiscoveries prepares for the program’s launch in September, women and underrepresented principal investigators, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students across campus are encouraged to complete the expression of interest form on the WE website. -Empower to apply.

“By innovating and supporting the development of new technologies, protecting the intellectual property of various research fields on campus, we are creating a platform for industry and the world to engage with Western researchers,” said said Armstrong.

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