Mission: Empower women and female-identifying with the tools and confidence they need to advance their careers at any level.
The Empowering Women in Technology Startups (EWITS®) program immerses women/female-identify in a simulated business experience grounded in real technology and provides guided mentorship to help strip away barriers and unlock potential. The program is designed to leverage the unique skills and backgrounds from all participants. Diversity is our strength! Participants come from academia, industry or other area, and represent a variety of disciplines and experiences. The only requirement is a bachelor’s degree. People participate in EWITS® for a number of reasons: interest to start a business and want learn more about entrepreneurship; researchers interested in learning more about translating their work from the benchtop to industry; professional development; improving leadership and networking skills.
What is it? Teams of participants from various disciplines (marketing, physical sciences, accounting, law, business, life sciences, etc. ) are created. Led by a mentor they conduct market research to determine potential viable markets for an emerging technology, and create a business plan and pitch presentation. In addition to learning about business and entrepreneurial components, participants also build their networking, leadership and teamwork skills. One of the main objectives of the program is to increase confidence to meet new challenges and pursue goals: professionally and personally. The program includes structured curriculum, speakers, and individual outside classwork. (NOTE: time for outside class work varies but expect a minimum of a few hours per week for reading, watching videos and/or conducting research).
Do I need to have my own idea to participate? NO. The program uses technologies from research done at the University of Florida and have the potential to become products in the marketplace – so you do not need to have your own idea.
EWITS® Participants Can Expect
- A unique opportunity to learn about technology commercialization – the process of how an “idea” becomes a product that is sold
- A hands-on “laboratory” experience in researching and understanding the commercial opportunity of an innovation
- To gain new skill sets and knowledge for resume-building and broadened career development options
- The ability to integrate the science and technology of an innovation with the business elements needed to transform it into a product
- Exposure to cutting edge technologies
- A chance to “create” the company elements needed to move an innovation from the laboratory to the marketplace in a simulated environment
- Be part of team of women/female-identify that represent diverse disciplines (ex: marketing, science, law, accounting, business)
- Work with a team mentor
- A chance to network with mentors, speakers and fellow participants
- An opportunity to learn about barriers to entry for women and strategies for overcoming them
- To be challenged! EWITS is a lot of work! But past participants routinely share that it is work the effort. And also a lot of fun!
Launched in 2012 by UF Innovate and with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, EWITS® is part of the programmatic resources at the Collaboratory for Women Innovators. Over 300 women have participated in the program with an additional 100 serving as mentors, speakers and panelists, resulting in a robust alumni network. Come join us!
We are honored that the EWITS® program was recognized by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) as one of the programs making a difference in gender parity in innovation. Access the report here: Closing the Gender Gap in Patenting, Innovation, and Commercialization: Programs Promoting Equity and Inclusion.