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The Collaboratory for Women Innovators seeks to inspire, educate, and empower women to attain leadership in all phases of the innovation lifecycle. Diversity is critical to the success of innovation in the U.S., and research shows that there is still a significant disparity in the numbers of women entrepreneurs and innovators. The Collaboratory seeks to bridge that gap by supporting participants at various stages of personal and professional development. 

A portfolio of resources and training opportunities ranging from structured programming to informal networking, workshop and special topic speakers are offered, designed to address diverse goals and objectives. Programs and resources are designed to support women starting their own companies as well as increase participation of female inventors/researchers. Additional activities provide opportunities for women to learn more about innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership and connect with like-minded people and mentors.

While the Collaboratory has a focus on women, we also offer programming that is non-gender specific. View our available programs or contact us for more information. 

Involvement

Is the Collaboratory for me?

Here at the Collaboratory we have different types of programming to fit your needs…now and as you continue to grow. Are you looking for a co-working space with guided coaching? Are you looking to flush out your business idea? Do you just want to dip your toes in and come for a few hours to find out more about potential opportunities or learn more about a particular topic? The Collaboratory offers a variety of options ranging from structured programming to informal networking, workshop and speaker sessions. Our programming will continue to evolve so check in to see what’s happening! Sign up for our mailing list/newsletter and connect with us on social media.

How Can I be Involved?

You can engage with the Collaboratory in several ways: as a participant/mentee, mentor/educational partner or sponsor. To learn more about all the opportunities, please contact Kathy Sohar.

Participant

The Collaboratory has different types of programming to fit your needs, now and as you continue to grow. The Collaboratory offers a variety of options ranging from structured programming to informal networking, workshop and speaker sessions. View our programs to play an active role the Collaboratory.

Mentor

Mentorship is an important component of Collaboratory programming. With the help of a mentor, our participants can grow professionally, overcoming barriers and taking part in new innovative endeavors. The Collaboratory seeks mentors who have experience in venture creation and/or technology commercialization. Contact us to become a mentor. 

Sponsor

Show your commitment to diversity and inclusion by becoming a Collaboratory sponsor! Sponsorship opportunities are available for individuals or entities at multiple levels: from individual scholarships to program series to space branding. In addition to directly impacting the growth and support of local emerging women leaders, Collaboratory sponsors have the opportunity for national visibility due to the prominence of our popular EWITS program and our location within UF Innovate | The Hub. Contact us to learn more about sponsorship opportunities. 

About

What is the Collaboratory?

The Collaboratory for Women Innovators seeks to inspire, educate, and empower women to attain leadership in all phases of the innovation lifecycle. We offer a variety of programs and experiences to support different goals for participants at various stages of their personal and professional development.

The genesis for the Collaboratory developed as an outgrowth of the successful Empowering Women in Technology Startups program (EWITS). Ewits began in 2012 and provides experiential hands-on entrepreneurial training and skills. The Collaboratory was originally envisioned as a next step in the entrepreneurial process to further support women starting their own companies. However, the mission has expanded to also include focus on increasing participation of female inventors, as well as providing opportunities for women who, although not currently actively pursuing a business startup, may be interested in learning more about innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership, as well as connecting with other like-minded people.

Why a center focused on women?

Diversity is a crucial ingredient for innovation. Approaching problem-solving from unique viewpoints and bringing varied experiences to the table maximizes an organization’s ability to discover the most effective and efficient solutions. Research correlating diversity in leadership with market outcomes shows that companies with 2-D diversity out innovate and out-perform more homogenous companies: diverse companies were 45% more likely to report market share growth and 70% more likely to report that the firm captured a new market.

While national trends show some improvement in gender parity, the data highlights the need for increased intervention strategies if progress is truly a goal. “Although women have more than quintupled their representation among patent holders since 1977, only 18.8 percent of all patents had at least one woman inventor in 2010, compared with 3.4 percent in 1977…and as of 2010 only 7.7 % of all patents listed a woman as the primary inventor.” In 2017 Forbes announced that the number of CEOs in its annual Fortune 500 list was at an all time high…32. So for this record-breaking year, women represented 6.4% of the total list. This is despite the fact that evidence demonstrates that including women in executive and board positions results in increased financial performance for organizations. Taking this a step further, a 2015 study estimated that increasing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to the global GDP by 2025 .

Diversity = All-Inclusive

To fully capitalize on this opportunity diversity needs to be all inclusive: gender, race, culture, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity…and this list is far from comprehensive. While all these elements are important, here at the Collaboratory we have a specific focus on gender and innovation. That does not minimize the importance of the other variables – it just provides an opportunity to focus our areas of expertise to try and help increase representation for this population. This does not mean that we do not include men in the conversation – quite the opposite. For gender parity to occur all voices need to be heard and valued. While some of our programming is exclusively focused on women, we have other programs that are open to all, and we also hope to sponsor programs in the future that are specifically targeted for men. Please check back often to see our evolving list of programs – or feel free to reach out to us if you have programming ideas to share.

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