Posted at 5:41 AM
Usable Tech Co. in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) recently funded grant recipient Rutgers University Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CUEED), hosted the first ever “Inclusive Innovation House” at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas.
MBDA’s participation at this year’s SXSW’s conference was to support CUEED’s efforts of growing the tech diversity pipeline as part of the agency’s Inclusive Innovation Initiative (I-3).The event also provided African American and Latino entrepreneurs with information about how to apply for federal government grant funding and the benefits of working with a federal lab to further their research and development (R&D). Last October, Rutgers University received a $407,688 federal grant from MBDA to help increase the number of minority business enterprises engaged in federally funded innovation and technology commercialization programs. The grant, part of MBDA’s Broad Agency Announcement competition, was used to launch the Minority Tech Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Commercialization Initiative.
The free event featured panels, learning sessions, and networking opportunities for minority tech entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, engineers, and researchers who want to develop and gain funding for their tech ideas and companies. The SXSW Inclusive Innovation House also featured presentations from ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and panel topics such as “Connecting Founders of Color to Private Capital: What to Do Before You Invest.”
MBDA’s very own Associate Director for Business Development Efrain Gonzalez, served on a panel entitled “Growing Your Tech Company with Federal Government Grant Money,” that provided information on grant programs and MBDA focused initiatives that support minority entrepreneurs. Other panelists included G. Nagesh Rao Chief Technologist and Entrepreneur in Residence with the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Investment and Innovation, Lyneir Richardson, CUEED, and Alice Vilma Executive Director, Multicultural Client Strategy Team, Morgan Stanley.
In classic SXSW fashion, the Inclusive Innovation programming concluded with a non-traditional panel entitled “The Unpanel.” During this session, expert presenters shared their thoughts on a variety of topics affecting African American and Latino entrepreneurs – including social action and social justice, minority business development, and inclusive innovation.
Patricia Tomczyszyn, MBDA Inclusive Innovation Initiative Team Lead, and Julius Maina, MBDA Policy and Inclusive Innovation Specialist, were also present to educate participants about MBDA’s Inclusive Innovation Initiative. I-3 is a national outreach effort designed to increase the participation of minority business enterprises (MBEs) and minority-serving institutions in the national federal laboratory network.