NSF I-Corps Hub: Mid-Atlantic Region Hosts I-Corps Hispanic Innovation Forum

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Hub: Mid-Atlantic Region hosted the I-Corps Hispanic Innovation Forum on October 12, 2023.

The virtual, half-day event featured presentations by Hispanic leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and educators involved in I-Corps.

“This year, we focused on the themes of prosperity, power, and progress, recognizing the significant strides of Hispanics in the economic, technological, and social growth of the U.S. under the theme ‘Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America,’” said Hub Director and Hub Co-PI Dan Kunitz.

The I-Corps Hispanic Innovation Forum was led by: Mireya McKee, Director, KickStart Venture Services, University of North Carolina; Dorn Carranza, Associate Director for Strategic Partnerships and Innovation, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and Tomas Isakowitz, Manager, PCI Fellows and Penn I-Corps at Penn Center for Innovation, University of Pennsylvania. Both McKee and Carranza are members of the Hub Diversity & Inclusion Committee, while Isakowitz serves on the Hub Curriculum Committee.

McKee and Isakowitz welcomed attendees to the event, followed by keynote speaker Mark Madrid, Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration, who gave a talk titled “Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America.”

Ruth Shuman, Program Director for the NSF, then gave a talk titled “Introduction to I-Corps.” Adam Pardes, Co-Founder and COO of NeuroFlow, followed with a presentation titled “NeuroFlow: from Lab to Market.”

The forum next featured a Hispanic Entrepreneurs Panel moderated by McKee. Panel members included: Maria Artunduaga, CEO, Samay; Alex Sanchez, CTO, Power 3D; Javier Atencia, CEO, Pathotrak, Inc.; and Adriana Catalina Vázquez, CEO, Lilu.

Next up was a Government Agencies Panel, moderated by Carranza. Panelists included: Carolina Villacis, Commercialization Program Manager, Office of Technology Transitions, DOE; Orlando Lopez, Director of the Dental Materials and Biomaterials Program and Coordinator of the Small Business Program at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes of Health (NIDCR/NIH); and Jesus Soriano, Program Director, Division of Translational Impacts, NSF.

The final main presentation of the day was “Spanish I-Corps Program and Connections to Latin America,” by Aaron Cervantes, Director of Operations, Mike Loya Center for Innovation and Commerce, The University of Texas at El Paso.

Next, the forum offered breakout sessions, including: “Getting Involved as Hispanic Mentors,” by Glen Hellman, head of the mentor program for the NSF I-Corps Hub: Mid-Atlantic Region; “SBIR/STTR Funding,” by Edmund Pendleton, lead instructor for the NSF I-Corps Hub: Mid-Atlantic Region; “Investment for Hispanic Innovators,” by Jean-Luc Park, Senior Director, Social Impact Funds, at TEDCO; and “Mid-Atlantic I-Corps Hub Programs and Resources,” by David Steele, Program Manager for the NSF I-Corps Hub: Mid-Atlantic Region.

McKee and Isakowitz gave closing remarks.

In addition to the forum, the hub team compiled 18 profiles of Hispanic innovators, featured on the  I-Corps Hispanic Innovation Forum web page.

The NSF I-Corps Hub: Mid-Atlantic Region plans to grow this event next year across all I-Corps hubs to continue its goal of broadening participation in innovation and entrepreneurship.