NSF launches pilot program to identify barriers and tools for historically underrepresented communities in the innovation ecosystem

The U.S. National Science Foundation announced a new $2 million pilot (NSF-2331195to support the increased involvement and success of entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented groups to bring their innovations to communities and the public with broad societal benefits. This effort ensures NSF is better postured to leverage the full spectrum of diverse talent throughout the innovation ecosystem.

The new pilot is led by the Public Policy Lab, a nonprofit innovation lab with over a decade of experience working with government partners to apply human-centered research and design methods to challenges faced by low-income and marginalized Americans.

“This new pilot strengthens our commitment to developing an innovation ecosystem that engages and benefits all Americans,” said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships. “Through co-design and prototyping efforts, teams will develop a set of tools and recommendations to support individualized journeys down the entrepreneurial path.”

During the project, up to 40 teams of startup innovators from groups underrepresented in innovation will engage in identifying barriers facing them when attempting to pursue non-dilutive funding to examine the technical and commercial feasibility of their innovations for public good.

The pilot has three goals:

  1. Identify the challenges that startup entrepreneurs face and particularly understand what barriers are experienced when pursuing seed funding and generate solutions that overcome these barriers throughout entrepreneurs’ journeys in translating their innovations to society.
  2. Co-design, prototype, and pilot tools with cohorts of community entrepreneurs, applying user-centered design methodologies to structure creative and rapid testing and validation.
  3. Propose a broad array of possible future initiatives for improvement, from systemic interventions to personalized experiential learning opportunities.

To learn more about the new pilot, visit the Public Policy Lab website.