BioSTL was nationally recognized by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) as one of the organizations making strides to increase equity in entrepreneurship in its recently released report, "Closing the Gender Gap in Patenting, Innovation and Commercialization – Programs Promoting Equity and Inclusion."
The report profiles programs designed to increase gender diversity in patenting, innovation, and entrepreneurship in a variety of settings, including academic institutions, corporations, and government and nonprofit organizations. Drawing on a program scan and interviews of selected program leaders and participants, it describes seven programs in depth and highlights how they were developed, their successes and lessons learned, and their results in promoting gender diversity, particularly the underrepresentation of women, including women of color, among patent holders and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and occupations.
The report notes that BioSTL’s Inclusion Initiative has had 889 program participants since 2014, and of those 395 were women, 393 were people of color, and 118 were born outside of the U.S. The program has also completed 83 “deep assessments” of businesses and trained 94 company founders. Since 2014, Inclusion Initiative participants have raised more than $39 million in capital for their business ventures.
The report notes, BioSTL’s Inclusion Initiative plans to add the following programs:
- · Pipeline to Prosperity: An intentional outreach program to STEM-focused women and minority individuals interested in building viable businesses or technologies in St. Louis. This program would provide a select cohort with wraparound resources including experienced mentorship, financial support, network exposure and other network connections to ensure successful growth of STEM entities.
- · Venture Capital Fellows Program: A competitive program that offers select individuals the opportunity to develop and grow their expertise as analysts within BioGenerator, the investment arm of BioSTL, under the supervision of professional fund managers. This program would provide Fellows with strategic training skills and real-life investment experience.
To date, BioSTL’s Inclusion Initiative has received nine national best practice recognitions. In 2017, JPMorgan Chase and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) recognized BioSTL as a model for regional industry cluster building in their Building Strong Clusters for Strong Urban Economies report, highlighting the fact that BioSTL has made inclusion a central part of its growth strategy.
Women owned one in five (20.8 percent) businesses with employees in the United States in 2015, which reflects growth of 25 percent since 1997, when women owned only 16.8 percent of firms with employees. The number of women-owned businesses grew at nearly four times the rate of men-owned firms over the last two decades.
Women of color have been driving much of this growth. Since 2002, the number of firms owned by Hispanic women has increased by over 77 percent, and the number of firms owned by black women has increased by over 40 percent. In the same period, the share of businesses owned by white women grew by 8.9 percent.