Purdue Foundry announces new program to help women entrepreneurs across the state

October 8, 2015  


Lalita Amos women

Lalita Amos, executive director at TEAM Solutions, speaks as Mary Pilotte, director of engineering education undergraduate degree programs at Purdue, looks on. Amos and Pilotte were part of a panel discussion that also included Sarah Sparker, director of ISEEK and Sherine Abdelmawla, co-founder of AkanoCure. (Purdue Research Foundation/Hillary Henry)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., - Officials from the Purdue Foundry on Tuesday (Oct. 6) announced a new program that will provide necessary resources to women entrepreneurs across Indiana.

The program named WomenIN, is aimed to enrich the statewide entrepreneurial ecosystem by providing resources normally reserved for Purdue Foundry clients, to all women, and also is aimed to engage more women in technology and entrepreneurship.

The program is geared to increase the total representation of women in technology and entrepreneurship and establish a network for supporting one another.

"Our goal is to increase the participation of women in Indiana's entrepreneurial community," said Juliana Casavan, entrepreneurial programs manager at the Purdue Foundry. "Purdue University and the Purdue Foundry are at the forefront of this movement, and we have the ability to activate a change in women's involvement in entrepreneurship."

Members of the WomenIN program will have access to Purdue Foundry resources such as online ideation workshops, entrepreneur-in-residence assistance, and open invitations to quarterly networking events and educational opportunities.

The initiative was announced at the Women in Entrepreneurship luncheon, sponsored by the Purdue Foundry and Purdue Krannert School of Management. The event had more than 70 attendees and featured guest speaker, Karen Griffith Gryga.

Li Hwa Chong women

Li Hwa Chong, far right, asks a question during the Women in Entrepreneurship program in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Purdue University. Chong is an alumna of Purdue and co-founder of the startup Prehensile Technologies LLC, which is based on a Purdue innovation. (Purdue Research Foundation/Hillary Henry) 
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Griffith Gryga is the chief investment officer of Dreamit and founder of Dreamit Athena, a startup accelerator that provides access to a network, mentors and early-stage capital, in order to obtain more funding for female company founders. She spoke about the unique barriers that women face in entrepreneurship and in getting backed by venture capitalists and angel investors.

"Just 12 percent of venture-backed companies have women in executive ranks, yet studies have shown that companies with women in top management achieve a 35 percent higher return on equity and a 34 percent better total return to shareholders. Regardless of diversity or fairness, this is about straight economics," she said. "Women have challenges in attracting funding because of things such as access to female role models, access to capital, the confidence gap and women's need to multi-task which can limit scale as well as give the tendency to take on too much personally versus aggressively delegating."

Gryga Griffith's presentation was followed by a panel discussion led by Sherine Abdelmawla, co-founder of AkanoCure; Lalita Amos, a senior executive at Total Team Solutions; Mary Pilotte, director of Engineering Education Undergraduate Degree programs at Purdue; and Sarah Sparker, director of ISEEK.

To learn more about the WomenIN program email foundry@prf.org.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year by the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org 

Purdue Research Park contact: Hillary Henry, 765-588-3586, hkhenry@prf.org 

Sources: Juliana Casavan, 765-588-5253, jbcasavan@prf.org
Karen Griffith Gryga, 215-519-1720, karen@dreamitventures.com 

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