Empower 2021: A virtual conference Celebrating Black Academic Entrepreneurship, September 23-24, 2021




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About the Empower Conference

The new Princeton University Empower conference strives to broaden opportunities for academic entrepreneurs from different historically underrepresented groups. This first conference in the series, Empower 2021, will focus on Black entrepreneurs from throughout academia, bringing together national thought-leaders to share actionable knowledge and tools that can help transform university discoveries into companies and ventures that advance societal and economic progress.

Empower 2021 will also feature a pitch competition offering a $100,000 top cash prize, bundles of in-kind services, one-to-one meetings with select venture capital firms, and expert mentoring and coaching.

Inclusive entrepreneurship is one of several new initiatives in the racial equity action plan established by Princeton’s Office of the Dean for Research in response to the call in 2020 by University President Christopher L. Eisgruber to develop plans to combat systemic racism at Princeton and beyond.


Already registered? Access the Whova conference platform and join Empower 2021. Need an event code? Use tlk9tlwjlu

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Who should attend?


Everyone is welcome. We particularly encourage Black founders in academic settings (or those commercializing university IP) to attend.

All investors and venture capital firms looking to invest in strong startups are welcome. 

All people, groups and organizations supportive of inclusive innovation are encouraged to attend.

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Register now


The Empower Conference and Pitch Competition will be held virtually September 23-24, 2021. Register now so that you may receive conference updates, review the agenda and begin to network with fellow attendees. 

The virtual conference platform is easy to navigate and connect with each other. 

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Empower Pitch Competition


Startups commercializing academic research in deep tech or social sciences that are selected to present will compete for $135,000 in cash prizes as well as a bundle of in-kind services, 1:1 meetings with select venture capital firms, expert mentoring and pitch coaching. All startups with a strong and demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion are invited to apply. We encourage startups with a Black founder to apply.

For more information, visit the Pitch Competition page >


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Inclusive entrepreneurship

“We want this conference to result in action and opportunity by connecting entrepreneurs with resources and people that can make a difference to their ventures.” 

– Princeton Vice Dean for Innovation Rodney Priestley, the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and co-founder of two startup companies





To inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Don Seitz at donseitz@princeton.edu.


Empower is a Princeton University entrepreneurship conference hosted by Princeton Innovation and organized by the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council.


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