Empower 2021 to celebrate Black academic entrepreneurs

Friday, Aug 13, 2021
by Princeton Entrepreneurship Council

Princeton University will host Empower 2021, the first in a new annual conference series that will celebrate and support entrepreneurs in academia from different historically underrepresented groups. 

Empower 2021 will bring together national thought-leaders to share actionable knowledge and tools that can help to transform university discoveries through entrepreneurial activities into companies and ventures that advance societal and economic progress. 

The 2021 event highlights and celebrates Black academic entrepreneurs from universities around the U.S. and beyond. All people, groups and organizations supportive of inclusive innovation are encouraged to attend. Faculty, professional and postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students will be able to build networks with industry and venture capital representatives and explore ways to start, fund and scale new startups in deep tech and social sciences. Empower 2021 also features a pitch competition with several prizes, including a grand prize of $100,000 in cash. 

Inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship is one of several new initiatives in the racial equity action plan established by Princeton’s Office of the Dean for Research in response to the call in 2020 by University President Christopher L. Eisgruber to develop plans to combat systemic racism at Princeton and beyond. 

Empower 2021 is sponsored by Princeton University, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Mintz, the National Urban League and EisnerAmper.

Who should attend?

Everyone is welcome. We particularly encourage Black founders in academic settings (or those commercializing university discoveries) to attend. 

All investors and venture capital firms looking to invest in startups are welcome, and we especially invite those with a keen interest in diversity and inclusion. There is no fee to attend the Empower 2021 Conference. 

Register to attend Empower 2021


Empower Pitch Competition

During Day 1 of the EMPOWER 2021 conference, presenting startups will compete for $135,000 in cash prizes (including a $100,000 grand prize), as well as:

  • a bundle of in-kind services
  • 1:1 meetings with select venture capital firms
  • expert mentoring and pitch coaching

Applications for the Empower Pitch Competition are now being accepted. Eligibility details and application form are available on the Empower Pitch Competition page.

Apply to pitch at Empower 2021


Empower is a Princeton University entrepreneurship conference hosted by Princeton Innovation and organized by the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council.

Led by Rodney Priestley, Vice Dean for Innovation, Princeton Innovation is a Princeton University initiative formed to help translate Princeton research discoveries into technologies and services through innovation and entrepreneurship.