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 investors and community members

A Call to Action: New 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, we are excited to announce a climate tech “track” of the W.E. Cornell program focused on empowering founders in this arena with additional mentorship, coaching, and resources.

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 for Fall 2022 are now closed.

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.

Epperson Entrepreneurship Fund

The Epperson Entrepreneurship Fund provides summer funding for W.E. Cornell participants working to advance their innovations. Learn more about the Epperson Entrepreneurship Fund.

Alumni Spotlights

Vinni Tripathii ’20

Vini Tripathii Headshot

After W.E. Cornell, Tripathii launched a startup called Invictus BCI. The startup is developing neuroprosthetics to harness AI to help amputees. Invictus BCI is a winner of the Cornell Tech Startup Awards, MIT Pear Award, and received the Venture of the Year Award from Cornell’s Life Changing Lab incubator program. Currently, upper arm prosthetics are incredibly expensive. A prosthetic hand costs upwards of $20,000. By leveraging existing technologies such as 3D scanning and new technologies such as machine learning, Tripathii aims to create a more affordable and intuitive prosthetic capable of individual finger movement.

Erika Lacasse ’20Erika laCasse Headshot

LaCasse founded her startup CassCaps after completing the W.E. Cornell program and receiving “extensive advice” from the mentors in the program. Cass Caps produces patented cap and jar sets that measures spices and powdered ingredients directly from the bottle – allowing for quick, easy, and mess-free cooking. The company recently exceeded its Kickstarter goal and raised over $65,000.

Address & Contact

Our Address

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

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