Equalize 2020: Empowering academic women entrepreneurs

Washington University in St. Louis brings first-of-its-kind pitch competition to St. Louis

It’s no secret that there’s an enormous funding and support gap between startups founded by men and women. According to PitchBook, companies founded solely by women only received 2.3% of the total capital invested in venture-backed American startups last year.

Washington University in St. Louis is committed to supporting faculty, students and staff wherever they are on their entrepreneurial journey — and is especially invested in supporting women bringing their ideas and discoveries from lab through to the marketplace.

A terrific example of that commitment begins in St. Louis next year. Equalize 2020 is a national pitch competition geared toward academic faculty members who also are innovators. Presented by the university’s Office of Technology Management (OTM) and Osage University Partners, the event will serve as a platform to coach and promote women tech inventors as they navigate the startup ecosystem and engage with funders and corporate partners.

Mercier

“We believe this competition will be the first of its kind in the nation, focusing specifically on women academic inventors who are ready to engage the startup community,” said Nichole Mercier, assistant vice chancellor and managing director of OTM. “Because of the disparity in how women approach starting companies, this effort must be national as no one institution can drive success on their own.

“Washington University is already a national leader in promoting women inventors. We expect people from all over the country to attend because there is critical mass around interest in this topic and changing the outcomes.”

Applications for the competition are due Nov. 15; Washington University faculty are encouraged to apply. Beginning in January, finalists will receive mentoring from industry leaders to prepare and perfect their pitches, which will then be presented to a panel of judges on June 25.

Equalize 2020 also will include a symposium, panel discussions and keynote speakers, including Elizabeth Dougherty, the eastern regional outreach director at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, who will discuss the state of women inventors in America. The symposium and pitch competition will be open to the public.

“The entire event promises to be a game-changer,” Mercier said. “We will have brilliant female academics in the room, presenting to industry leaders and potential funding partners. We will create a stronger network of support for all women interested in starting their own entrepreneurial journeys.”

To learn more, visit equalize.wustl.edu

Comments and respectful dialogue are encouraged, but content will be moderated. Please, no personal attacks, obscenity or profanity, selling of commercial products, or endorsements of political candidates or positions. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments. We also cannot address individual medical concerns or provide medical advice in this forum.