These New Jersey Women in STEM are Flexing their Entrepreneurial Muscles

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These New Jersey Women in STEM are Flexing their Entrepreneurial Muscles

Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is a multi-disciplinary organization for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Established in 1995, the New Jersey chapter,  empowers and promotes women scientists through programs that facilitate career development, education, networking, leadership and entrepreneurial opportunities. The chapter is spearheading programs to re-engage New Jersey women in STEM in Entrepreneurial ventures. Key, relevant initiatives include  Entrepreneurial & Innovation challenges and  a  MedHealth challenge.

NJIT I-Corps site and AWIS CJC recently received joint funding through the supplemental program for "Providing Entrepreneurial Alternatives for New Jersey Women with Life Sciences PhDs from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Co-directors of the New Jersey Innovation Acceleration Center at NJIT, Judith Sheft and Michael Ehrlich along with Kamana Misra from AWIS CJC are jointly managing the I-Core supplemental program.

"We have a key interest in developing sustainable ecosystems for efficient re-engagement of women in STEM and I believe, embracing entrepreneurship is an enormous opportunity for this workforce to re-stimulate the job market," said Kamana Misra, PhD, President for the Association for Women in Science New Jersey Central chapter.

The pilot cohort is currently in session at the New Jersey Center for Innovation Acceleration at NJIT. Selected STEM ventures with female leads receive specialized training and mini grants of up to $2,000. "We are happy to include this cohort of women STEM entrepreneurs to our summer accelerator" said Michael Ehrlich from the NJIT School of Management. He added, "In addition to introduction to the principles of the lean start up methodology, the teams make connections with experienced entrepreneurs and investors that can lead to potential follow-on support or collaboration".

Judith Sheft from NJIT and Reema Puri from Nevakar are the other key advisory members associated with the entrepreneurial challenge for New Jersey women in STEM initiative.

"We are always supportive of developing a sustainable ecosystem to train scientists in New Jersey to undertake entrepreneurship ventures," said Judith Sheft, Associate Vice President Technology & Enterprise Development at New Jersey Innovation Institute at NJIT. "I participated in this initiative as I see great potential and value in providing entrepreneurship training to women in STEM."

"We want to help women get to the next level by taking that technology, building an entrepreneurial spirit around it and getting the critical funding. That is the part we want them to be successful in," said Reema Puri, Vice President, HR, Nevakar and a key Advisory Member.

The group, in addition to instructional curriculum, gets to interact with key STEM stakeholders in New Jersey. "The strength of New Jersey's innovation economy depends upon attracting the highest-quality workforce and we cannot afford to lose a significant portion of women scientists and engineers.  The programs run by AWIS are critical to plugging the gender leak and helping to ensure that the STEM ecosystem includes all," said Andrew Zwicker PhD, Chair, New Jersey Assembly's Science, Innovation & Technology Committee.

The companies participating in the current cohort include:

  •      Bright Brainer Virtual Rehabilitation System, Namrata Grampurohit Ph.D.
  •      ContraRx, Founder: Kamana Misra Ph.D.
  •      In Vitro Diagnostics Solutions, Amy Bendel, Ph.D. 
  •      Learnroll Immerse, Founder: Sushmita Chatterjee
  •      Noninvasive Technology to Measure Glucose Levels, Founder: Dawn Bennett Ph.D.
  •      TrachAlarm, Founder: Dorothy Ownes, RN
  •      Vibrnz, Founder: Mrinalini Ayachit.
  •      WordStim, Founder: Ayana Webb, M.A., CCC-SLP
  •      Pre-Formulated Do-It-Yourself Beauty Products, Founder: Laura Osorno.

This program will help address the employment challenges faced by STEM women while providing a base for economic growth building on commercialization potential of new technologies.  According to NSF spokesperson, "it is a nice project that has the potential to serve as a model for similar activities at a national level."

The AWIS CJC outreach activities are also supported by Johnson & Johnson, Allergan, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Nevakar, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Governor's STEM Scholars and New Jersey STEM Pathways Network 

Media Contact: AWIS CJC, Association for women in Science, New Jersey Chapter, 7329954635,

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SOURCE Association for Women in Science (AWIS)

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