Women Innovators Initiative (WI2)

The Women Innovators Initiative is a Cornell program to Engage, Empower, and Grow women faculty, staff, and graduate students on the path toward technology innovation and entrepreneurial leadership.

Working Toward Increasing Participation of Women Innovator


The share of women among all U.S. inventor-patentees grew from 12.8% in 2019. For Cornell University, from the data collected by the Center for Technology Licensing using submitted invention disclosures between 2009 and 2017, women accounted for 23% of Cornell inventors. While this rate exceeds the national average, it is still far from gender parity, and we are not capturing the full innovation power in women.

The Center for Technology Licensing (CTL) has decided to implement a Women Innovators Initiative (WI2) to help change the narrative with the objectives to Engage, Empower, and Grow women faculty, staff, and graduate students on the path toward technology innovation and entrepreneurial leadership.

In a short video, the CTL team discussed the importance of advancing gender diversity needs, implementing programs and benefits, and upcoming efforts.


  • Introduce women faculty, staff, and students to technology innovation and commercialization, and help increase their participation in inventorship.
  • Support their interests and exploration in entrepreneurship and leadership roles.


Women Innovator Awards

A celebration of Cornell women innovators for their contributions to innovation and commercialization

WI2 Event Series

A series of seminars, webinars, and networking events. Learn from inspiring women inventors and entrepreneurs

WI2 Mentor Program

Match mentors (seasoned women innovators, entrepreneurs, and/or investors) with mentees (aspiring and novice inventors and entrepreneurs)

Partner Programs & Events

Get in touch with like-minded women innovators and participate in events and programs to cultivate the next generation


Women Innovator Awards

The Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University (CTL) launched the inaugural Women Innovator Awards, a celebration of Cornell women innovators for their contributions in innovation and commercialization. For more information and application, visit here.

poster for Women Innovator Awards

WI2 Event Series

Register for an upcoming event or watch the recording of past events hosted by CTL with the participation of women innovators and entrepreneurs from Cornell and our community.

Stay tuned for upcoming webinars and workshops.

January 19, 2023

Women Innovator Initiative Webinar Series: Imposter Syndrome, Overwhelm, and Getting Unstuck

November 17, 2022

Webinar: CTL@WCM Special Panel on Women’s Health

March 17, 2022

Webinar: Running a Startup: Perspective of Two Women Founders and CEOs from Cornell

April 2, 2021
Read more here.

Webinar: Investing in Women Entrepreneurs

September 30, 2020
Read more here.

Webinar: Women Inventors at Cornell – Creating and Growing an Ecosystem of Innovation

June 25, 2020
Read more here.

WI2 Mentor program

Duration: Commitment of a year.


Eligibility criteria / Requirements

Mentors Mentee
Who Alumnae volunteers willing to provide advice and perspectives on technology innovation, commercialization, startups, and other related activities. Cornell Faculty, Staff (post-doctoral fellows), and Grad students who are interested in technology, commercialization, and new ventures and wish to learn from experienced women leaders
Background Experienced in technology commercialization and Startup creation Conducting research at Cornell
Process Review a list of pre-selected candidates Express a substantiated interest in the program
Match Select up to three mentees per year One designed mentor
Commitment At least two meetings per mentee in a year.
Willing to share their email with a mentee.
At least two one-on-one meetings with a mentor per year
Respectful of mentor time
Responsive to mentor’s emails

For Mentees:


Application process:

  • Submit an online application here.
  • The team at CTL will screen the application and propose them for review to the mentors.
  • Once selected, mentees are introduced to their mentor through a virtual introduction.

For more information, please contact Lynda Inseque at Lci2@cornell.edu.

For mentors:

If you are interested in serving as a mentor, please contact Lynda Inseque at Lci2@cornell.edu.

Partner Programs & Events


Weill Cornell Medicine Women Founders Initiative

The Women Founders Initiative at WCM will host and promote several initiatives to help women innovators become successful entrepreneurs and leaders.



Equalize is a virtual mentor program and pitch competition designed to take national action around the disparity of women academic inventors forming university startups. Join the 2023 event here. This event is hosted by Washington University in St. Louis & Osage University Partners.


W.E. Cornell

W.E. Cornell is a cohort-based program that empowers deep tech graduate, PhD, and post-doctoral scholars at Cornell University to commercialize their innovations and overcome the challenges of leading a technology-based business. Combining a proven entrepreneurship curriculum with a focus on leadership development and empowerment, participants will finish the program prepared to take the next steps in their entrepreneurship journey.


Empowering Women’s Entrepreneurship (WE)

A program launched by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. WE is a community-focused, collaborative, and creative initiative to encourage and empower more women founders across America.


Invent Together

Inventors solve problems. It’s what they do. And the more diversity in our inventor community, the more diverse our problem solving will be. Unfortunately, researchers estimate that millions of individuals from underrepresented groups who could be inventing and patenting aren’t.

Imagine the possibilities if everyone was supported in bringing their ideas to life. In addition to addressing problems, inventing and patenting creates more career opportunities, boosts the economy, helps reduce wage and wealth gaps, and opens the door to even more innovation.


Empower Conference 2023 Pitch Competition

The Empower Conference 2023 Pitch Competition celebrates women academic entrepreneurship and salutes all founders and researchers who have or are planning to commercialize university-developed intellectual property across all disciplines including technology, physical sciences, life sciences and social sciences.

Applicants will compete for over $150K of cash and in-kind prizes, including a first-place cash prize of $100K and a $10K bundle of in-kind legal and advisory services. The semi-finalists and finalists in the selection process will also receive expert mentoring advice and the opportunity to meet with several VC firms. Application deadline: Monday, March 6, 2023.


Women Who Inspire Series

The Women Who Inspire event series in March will celebrate Women’s History Month with students and help them get better prepared for their careers. The series features events targeting towards Investment Banking, Global Capital Markets, Sales & Trading and Technology divisions for students with different interests to learn more about the work and journey of women from Morgan Stanley, through practical exercises and networking sessions.

Register for the sessions here:

  1. Women in Banking Forum on March 22, 2023

  2. Women4Tech Challenge on March 29, 2023

  3. Future Female Traders on March 30, 2023