Collaboratory for Women Innovators Seeks to Inspire, Educate and Empower Women in Business

As gender equality and diversity continue to dominate news headlines as significant social issues, both are also becoming pressing economic issues and crucial ingredients for innovation.

Research from the Harvard Business Review shows that companies with 2-D diversity out-innovate and out-perform more homogenous companies. Specifically, diverse companies are 45 percent more likely to report market share growth and 70 percent more likely to report that the firm captured a new market. Additionally, according to McKinsey & Company, increasing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to the global GDP by 2025.

In order to capitalize on this opportunity to build better businesses, diversity among gender, race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and culture must be at the forefront of the minds of business leaders.

The Collaboratory for Women Innovators seeks to boost the opportunity of building better businesses through inclusivity by focusing on inspiring, educating and empowering women to attain leadership in all phases of the innovation lifecycle. Using extensive knowledge gained from research about the barriers to entry for women in the innovation lifecycle, the Collaboratory has developed a holistic, concrete and replicable plan for helping women overcome these barriers and changing the paradigm.

“Our portfolio of programs is designed to encourage, engage, teach and mentor women to be more successful,” said Nola Miyasaki, executive director of outreach, incubation and women’s initiatives at the University of Florida Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center. “We help them reach beyond their comfort zone to achieve success that is often within their reach and capabilities.”

As part of the University of Florida Warrington College of Business Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center, the Collaboratory provides hands-on, multi-week learning programs, unique opportunities for networking within the Gainesville startup community, access to mentors who offer startup and career advice, special workshops designed for women innovators, as well as a co-working space that supports growth-oriented, women-owned ventures. While the Collaboratory has a focus on women, there is programming for all genders, including the Startup Roadmap program to help grow or launch early-stage ventures.

“The Collaboratory offers a place where people can learn and network with others that are trying to do the same thing, as well as help people find mentors and advisors that can support them along the way,” Miyasaki said. “That’s where [The Collaboratory] provides value for people, as well as the community, and makes an impact.”

The Collaboratory was born out of the successful Empowering Women in Technology Startups (EWITS) program, which provides women with experiential hands-on entrepreneurial training and skills. In order to empower women to make the leap from research and development in the technology field, EWITS immerses women in a simulated business experience grounded in real technology, providing guided mentorship that strips away barriers and helps unlock potential. Nearly 300 women, to date, have benefitted from the program, with the next cohort beginning in September 2018.

The Collaboratory is built to fit the needs of its participants and has a number of ways for people to get involved. For those looking to grow their businesses, the Collaboratory offers a variety of options for participants from structured programming to informal networking. For those who have experience in venture creation and/or technology commercialization, becoming a mentor helps participants grow professionally, overcome barriers and innovate their endeavors. Those who wish to show their commitment to diversity and inclusion can do so by sponsoring the Collaboratory.

Learn more about the Collaboratory by visiting www.warrington.ufl.edu/Collaboratory, joining the mailing list or following on Facebook and Twitter. For general inquiries, please contact the Collaboratory at 352-294 0518. To learn more about participating, mentoring and sponsoring, please contact Associate Director of Women’s Entrepreneurial Programs Kathy Sohar at kathleen.sohar@warrington.ufl.edu. For more information about the co-working space, please contact Nola Miyasaki at nola.miyasaki@warrington.ufl.edu.  

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