2021 Sessions

Empower 2021 Sessions

Day 1


Opening Comments and Announcements

Hear from Princeton Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti and Vice Dean for Innovation Rodney Priestley as they officially open Empower 2021.



Minding the Gaps <<>> Creating Opportunities

Join Gabrielle Sulzberger, Senior Advisor to Two Sigma Impact and Trustee of Ford Foundation, and Mike Froman, Vice Chairman and President, Strategic Growth at Mastercard in an enlightening conference-opening fireside chat.



Technology Transfer for Academic Startups

In the course of your academic research, you develop an innovation that can have a large impact – so now what?  Do you have to speak to your academic institution? These questions and more are addressed in this session.



Non-Dilutive Funding for Early Academic Startups

You have an innovation that you think will have a big impact – but how do you confirm that you are right, and how do you find funds to do that early research and development? 



Accelerators: An Emphasis on Diversity and Access

Accelerators are often a catalyst for setting the spinout on the right path to entrepreneurial success and building a network of mentors and funders. Improving access, creating welcoming environments, and engaging "under-estimated" founders are some of the key elements of accelerators' evolving emphases.



Empower 2021 Pitch Competition

Hear from six outstanding Black founders commercializing university IP. The winning startup will be awarded $100K in non-dilutive cash and a bundle of in-kind legal and financial advisory services. 



Day 2


Recap of Day 1 and Overview of Day 2

Highlighting the start of Day Two with another round of applause for the winner of the Empower 2021 Pitch Competition. 



Leadership: Driving Change and Giving Hope

Ken Chenault will share his perspectives on leadership qualities to effectively manage through tumultuous times, and the OneTen initiative, a coalition of 37 CEOs coming together to create 1 million jobs for Black Americans over the next 10 years.



Perspectives on Academic Entrepreneurship and Diverse Innovation

Joe DeSimone will share his insights and experiences as a highly successful academic entrepreneur and as a passionate advocate for diverse innovation.



Startup Funding: VC Perspectives

A panel of esteemed venture capitalists and lawyers advising startups will share their perspectives and suggestions for engaging with and raising funds from the VC community.



Corporate Partnerships: Accelerating Your Startup's Velocity and Trajectory

This session will bring together business development executives from different industry sectors who will share insights into how to approach and engage industry partners.



Building Black Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Building strong vibrant ecosystems is complex and difficult, but the benefits are undeniable. The discussion will include how to activate ecosystems and build communities, and the impact of this on creating Black wealth and opportunity.



Founders Panel: Insights and Challenges Experienced by Black Entrepreneurs

Accomplished and successful Black founders of companies that leveraged their academic research or are spun out of universities discuss their own experiences and key learnings along the entrepreneurial path. 



Endnote Address / Conference Close

The inaugural Empower 2021 Conference will come to a close with an inspiring endnote address from Clark Atlanta University President George T. French, Jr. that envisions a future of equitable access for underrepresented academic entrepreneurs. 

Empower is a Princeton University entrepreneurship conference hosted by Princeton Entrepreneurship Council, part of the Office of the Dean for Research and a partner of Princeton Innovation.