HBCU Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley

By Jewell Sparks 1 Comment

UNCF (the United Negro College Fund) is currently hosting its inaugural National HBCU (Historically Black College and University) Innovation Summit at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.  The Summit takes place October 29 – November 1, 2013 and serves as a cultivator to jumpstart UNCF’s STEM Initiative to develop the HBCU Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship (I.C.E.).  Led by Chad Womack, PhD, UNCF National STEM Director and Executive Director of the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative, the HBCU Innovation Summit refines the value proposition of HBCUs in the context of the 21st century innovation economy and economic competitiveness.  Summit organizers include Dr. Womack; Dr. Tom Byers and Dr. Leticia Britos Cavagnaro of the Epicenter; and Ms. Sonja Sulcer, PMP, Program Manager of the Stanford Center for Professional Development.

Held jointly with the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) and the Stanford Center for Professional Development the event is focused on identifying best practices for university-based innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship; aligning research and development on HBCU campuses with industry; and connecting HBCUs to local and regional innovation ecosystems. The HBCU Innovation Summit is one of five projects that recently emerged out of the National Tech Inclusion Initiative (NTI) Summit supported by the Kapor Center for Social Impact in partnership with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the White House Office of Public Engagement. NTI aims to increase engagement, connectivity and performance of diverse and underrepresented communities to the innovation and tech economy through STEM education, tech entrepreneurship, commercialization and access to capital investment.

“According to the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, HBCUs, including UNCF Member Institutions, are extraordinarily successful at producing African American STEM graduates. Thirty-three percent of recent African American STEM Ph.D.s received their undergraduate degrees from HBCUs, and eight of the 10 top colleges whose African American graduates went on to get Ph.D.s in science were HBCUs,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF. “With today’s global economy more competitive than ever before, they are the dividend that will benefit all of us as they take their places as tomorrow’s leaders.”

Participating HBCUs include Clark Atlanta University, Dillard University, Fayetteville State University, Florida A&M University, Howard University, Jackson State University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central University, Prairie View A&M University, Spelman College, Tougaloo College, Tuskegee University, University of the Virgin Islands, Winston Salem State University, and Xavier University.

In addition to Presenting Sponsor UNCF, supporting Summit sponsors include the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Andreessen Horowitz, Association for Public and Land Grant Universities, Association for Underrepresented Minority Fellows, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Kapor Center for Social Impact, Lumina Foundation, Silicon Valley Bank, SpaceX, Texas Instruments, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative. Summit Partners include CODE2040, BiTHouse, Facebook, Google and Google for Entrepreneurs, JumpStart Inc., National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), Venture for America, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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About the Author

Jewell Sparks

VP Strategic Alliances and Partnerships/ Editor Jewell Sparks (Founder: BiTHouse, BiTHouse Pitch | CEO: Strategic Diversity Group | Journalist: 7×7, Examiner) A business strategist, entrepreneur and journalist, Jewell focuses on “Bridging the Gap” between entrepreneurs, technololigsts and brands. She has spent the majority of her career in biotechnology prepping markets and launching innovative products for organizations such as Procter & Gamble and Amgen while strategically aligning nonprofits and startup entities with partners and brands to ensure organizational effectiveness and sustainability. As and organizational effectiveness expert she aids organizations with diversifying their leadership teams and consumer reach. She is a firm believer in STEAM and has aided organizations and educational institutions with their outreach efforts to children and adults in order to inspire interest and job creation for minorities in the fields of science, technology and the arts. As the founder or BiTHouse and BiTHouse Pitch, she helps corporate entities and business owners find, align, innovate, fund and promote disruptive technologies created by minority entrepreneurs and technologists. BiTHouse has aligned with organizations such as: SXSW, TechCrunch and ADCOLOR in order to diversify conference attendance and prepare minority entrepreneurs for success amongst those who are the “Best in Tech” and business leadership in order to increase brand awareness, investment dollars and corporate collaborations. Strategic Diversity Group focuses on the development of nonprofits, startups and businesses in transition in order to identify and align with strategic partners, obtain visibility amongst diverse populations and capture market share as the face of America continues to evolve. @jewellsparks