The W.E. Cornell program helps STEM PhDs and postdocs commercialize their innovations and overcome the challenges of leading a growing technology-based business. Combining a proven entrepreneurship curriculum with a focus on leadership development and empowerment, participants will finish the program prepared to take the next steps in their entrepreneurship journey.

The Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on researching the entrepreneurial climate in the United States and supporting entrepreneurship programs, identifies some of the key barriers facing women entrepreneurs:

  • Mentors are in short supply
  • Implicit biases exist against women entrepreneurs
  • Lack of access to venture capital

The W.E. Cornell program is a guided entrepreneurship and leadership program. Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Meet experienced mentors
  • Build their network
  • Hone their market fit and customer base
  • Launch their innovations and pitch to investors and community members

A Call to Action: Climate Tech Track

As we review the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and its more precise forecasts for the 21st Century warning of increased severe weather devastation, we strongly encourage women and other diverse leaders to respond to this “call to action” and apply their innovations to help solve our local, national, and global climate challenges. Tied to this, the W.E. Cornell program offers a climate tech “track” focused on empowering founders in this arena with additional mentorship, coaching, and resources. The track is now in its fourth year.

Program Structure

Fall – Phase 1

W.E. Cornell applications are open to all students at Cornell doing research at the graduate level and higher including women, female-identified, and non-binary people.

Applications are now open for Fall 2023.

The program will require an estimated time commitment of two hours per week during the school year. Participants will be expected to:

  • Participate in 6-7 interactive workshops
  • Network with 5-10 potential mentors

Winter and Spring – Phase 2

A select group of participants from the fall will progress to complete the winter and spring phases. This smaller cohort will be expected to:

  • Participate in 6-7 interactive workshops
  • Network with 5-10 potential mentors
  • Practice pitching with mentors
  • Present to the Advisory Board at a closing celebration and demo day

At the end of the program, participants will work with mentors to identify subsequent entrepreneurship resources at Cornell and in the community. They will graduate with a clear focus on next steps and a strong support network of fellow entrepreneurs.

Why Investing in Women is Just Good Business

A growing body of evidence shows that institutional investors should consider female fund managers to improve their investment outcomes. The evidence suggest that women-led funds perform better, in part because they are more likely to invest in women-founded companies. Read more in this research brief, Why Investing in Women is Just Good Business.

Alumni Spotlights

Chinasa Okolo ’23

Okolo launched Adapteau, a startup that incorporates machine learning software to improve the water efficiency of adaptive irrigation systems for produce farmers in drought-prone and water-insecure regions such as California, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia. The goal of Adapteau is to optimize current irrigation systems without the need for expensive installation and equipment.

Anabella Maria Galang ’23

Anabella Galang headshot

Galang founded The Steminist Movement, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to mitigating the STEM gender gap by providing free, undiluted STEM education to middle school girls. Having grown and scaled out its team, The Steminist Movement recently hosted a STEM Fair on Cornell’s campus and curated a pop-up at the Rochester Museum and Science Center for Space Week program. After graduation, Galang plans to start a Research Associate position in cancer genetics as the next step in exploring her interest in medicine and the biotech industry. She said one of her key takeaways from W.E. Cornell is the handoff between growth and control, a relationship that she has leveraged as both a cancer biologist and entrepreneur.

Address & Contact

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Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

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