W.E. Cornell program helps women in STEM overcome entrepreneurship challenges

The W.E. Cornell program helps STEM women 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 1

The W.E. Cornell program is a guided entrepreneurship and leadership program that helps women in STEM overcome these challenges. Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Meet experienced mentors and STEM entrepreneurs to grow their network
  • Build leadership skills to commercialize their innovations through a proven program
  • Hone their market fit and customer base with a travel stipend of up to $3,000
  • Launch their innovations and pitch investors and community members

The program will require an estimated time commitment of two hours per week during the school year, with a 10 hour intensive during a week in mid-January. Participants will be expected to:

  • Participate in 6-7 interactive workshops
  • Network with 5-10 potential mentors
  • Participate in an National Science Foundation I-Corps Short Course
  • Present 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.

The program is open to all STEM women, including women-identified and non-binary students at Cornell.

1 “Women Entrepreneurs are Key to Accelerating Growth.” Entrepreneurship Policy Digest, Kauffman Foundation. 20 July 2015.

Photo by Sasha Israel, courtesy of Cornell CALS


Epperson Entrepreneurship Fund

The Epperson Entrepreneurship Fund provides summer funding for STEM women entrepreneurs working to advance their innovations. The program is designed for Cornell students who wish to spend the summer pursuing their entrepreneurial ideas free from the concern of supporting themselves in a traditional paid job setting. Funding up to $5,000 is provided to STEM women-identified and non-binary students who present ideas through the application process. Applications for 2020 are now closed.

About the Program Director: Andrea Ippolito

Andrea IppolitoAndrea Ippolito is a Lecturer in the College of Engineering and College of Business at Cornell University. She recently completed her role as the Director of the Innovators Network at the Department of Veterans Affairs and she previously served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at the VA Center for Innovation based out of the White House Office of Science Technology Policy and General Services Administration. She previously was a Ph.D. student in the Engineering Systems Division at MIT, co-founder of Smart Scheduling, Innovation Specialist at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital Innovation Hub, and Co-Director of MIT’s Hacking Medicine. She also served as a Product Innovation Manager at athenaHealth and completed her M.S. in Engineering and Management at MIT. Prior to MIT, Ippolito worked as a Research Scientist within the Corporate Technology Development group at Boston Scientific. She obtained both her B.S. in Biological Engineering in 2006 and Master of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering in 2007 from Cornell University.