Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA)

We strive to make I-Corps welcoming and inclusive, and to support the development of STEM research talent who are women, veterans, people of color, and individuals with disabilities.

Broadening participation in I-Corps is essential to the UNY I-Corps Node’s mission – it’s not an add on. Innovative technology solutions that can benefit society come from scientists and researchers of every background. The world needs women, underrepresented minorities, and the disabled community to be fully empowered and engaged as problem solvers and entrepreneurs.

Leadership from the Top

The UNY I-Corps Node’s PI, Dr. Lynden Archer, is the Dean of Engineering at Cornell University, a distinguished professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and an entrepreneur who has founded two battery technology startups based on his research. Dr. Archer has personally completed the I-Corps Teams program and is an advocate of the experience, especially for academics who are underrepresented minorities.

Dr. Archer describes his own entrepreneurship journey and the value of customer discovery.

Intentional Partnerships to Support Diverse STEM Innovators

The UNY I-Corps Node has developed tailored I-Corps regional programs for underrepresented STEM entrepreneurs in collaboration with advocacy and education organizations like W.E. Cornell, the National GEM Consortium, and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT.

A female entrepreneur creates a CAD drawing on a computer

Women Entrepreneurs

Since 2019, more than 40 STEM women have participated in a customized I-Corps regional course designed in partnership with W.E. Cornell. Members of Black Entrepreneurs in Training, a student group dedicated to inspiring, informing, and initiating the next wave of Black student entrepreneurs, have also participated in this course.

A Black female scientist smiles confidently in a lab

Black and Brown Entrepreneurs

In partnership with the National GEM Consortium’s Inclusion in Innovation Initiative (i4),  the UNY I-Corps Node runs an immersive I-Corps regional course exclusively for GEM Fellows (STEM Masters and Ph.D. students) who are working on technology innovations. The course begins and ends online, and culminates with a funded, 3-day customer discovery trip to New York City. GEM i4 staff and GEM Fellows alumni who have completed I-Corps Instructor training with the Node will participate in running this course.

A white older man speaks to a young woman through sign language in a classroom setting

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Entrepreneurs

UNY I-Corps Node partner RIT – a world leader in Deaf education and Inclusion technologies – developed NSF’s National Deaf Innovation Challenge (NDIC) to showcase innovative STEM ideas from entrepreneurial Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. This group is now developing I-Corps style customer discovery learning videos in American Sign Language (ASL).

Building a Diverse Teaching Cohort

In addition to building diversity among I-Corps participants, the UNY I-Corps Node has been building the diversity and strength of its teaching cohort with more instructors who are women, underserved minorities, and disabled entrepreneurs. Currently 44% of the UNY I-Corps Node’s trained instructors are women and 21% are underrepresented minorities. One instructor is Deaf. We continue to focus on improving representation.

Interview with Dr. Talmesha A. Richards, Principal Manager, Innovation Relationships, GEM i4, NSF I-Corps

Instructor Training for Inclusivity

Following recommendations from our Research and Evaluation team, the UNY I-Corps Node worked with experts in equity and anti-racism training, and inclusive teaching practices to develop an Inclusive and Equitable Teaching Practices training that is the first of its kind for I-Corps nationally. In this course, instructors learn strategies to effectively teach customer discovery methodology and provide “purposefully direct” feedback to I-Corps course participants. They also learn how to recognize and disrupt implicit bias and create an inclusive and equitable learning environment.

Explore Inclusive Instructor Training