Inspiring Academic Female Founders

Inspiring Academic Female Founders

Inspiring interviews with women academics who have started companies based on their research at some of the world's leading research institutions.

Having worked at the forefront of academic startups for over a decade, and even longer with some of our employees’ histories in academia, Osage University Partners (OUP) has found information on academic women startup founders to be rare, and worth a deeper dive into understanding why. Based on an OUP study on the gender gap among academic founders, only 11% of university startups have women founders. It turns out there are not that many women academic entrepreneurs compared to males, hence the lack of information.

So we asked several women from a variety of academic disciplines and positions to talk with us about their stories in creating their startup ventures in order to shed more light on their journeys and bring awareness to their successes and challenges along the way. Our main takeaway from the interviews so far? This is not a one-size-fits-all experience. However, each entrepreneurs’ unique experience reveals inherent commonalities, and many, many anecdotes, that could be useful to other entrepreneurial women in the academic ecosystem.

We begin this series by spotlighting 6 women we interviewed in 2020 who provided insightful perspectives on their diverse entrepreneurial journeys. We hope that sharing their stories will inspire more like-minded women academic entrepreneurs that they too can take the leap.

We plan to continue this series in the future. Please contact us at info@oup.vc with inspiring academic women entrepreneurs you would like to see highlighted.

Life Sciences

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Daria Mochly-Rosen, Founder and CSO of KAI Pharmaceuticals. Professor Mochly-Rosen, a protein chemist, is the George D. Smith Professor in Translational Medicine and Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology at Stanford University. Her lab develops pharmacological agents and applies them to understand molecular and cellular events under basal and disease conditions using in vitro, in culture and in vivo models. Professor Mochly-Rosen cofounded two companies, KAI Pharmaceuticals in 2003 (acquired by Amgen in 2012) and ALDEA Pharmaceuticals in 2011.

Interview with Daria Mochly-Rosen

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Jennifer Avari Silva, Cofounder and CMO of Sentiar. Associate Professor Avari Silva is a pediatric electrophysiologist in the Department of Pediatrics in Cardiology at Washington University. Her research interest is in arrhythmias (and transcatheter ablation), cardiac ion channelopathies, and implanted devices such as cardiac resynchronization therapy. Associate Professor Avari Silva cofounded Sentiar in 2017.

Interview with Jen Silva

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Lyndsey Linke, Cofounder and CEO of SiVEC. Dr. Linke, a biomedical engineer and infectious disease epidemiologist, was a research scientist at Colorado State University before cofounding and heading SiVEC as the CEO. Her scientific experience relates to the R&D of novel therapeutics, antivirals, and diagnostic tests. Dr. Linke cofounded SiVEC in 2016.

Interview with Lyndsey Linke

Physical Sciences

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Laura Schewel, Founder and CEO of StreetLight Data. Dr. Schewel, an environmental engineer, is the founder and CEO of StreetLight Data, the first company that made it easy, affordable, and efficient to access real-world transportation data. Before founding StreetLight in 2011 as a graduate student at UC Berkeley, Dr. Schewel worked on transportation sustainability issues at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Rocky Mountain Institute.

Interview with Laura Schewel

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Muriel Medard, Cofounder of CodeOn. Professor Medard, an information theorist and electrical engineer, is the Cecil H. Green Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. She leads the Network Coding and Reliable Communications Group at the Research Laboratory for Electronics at MIT. Professor Medard cofounded Steinwurf in 2011, Chocolate Cloud in 2014, and CodeOn in 2014.

Interview with Muriel Medard

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Ramille Shah, Cofounder and CSO of Dimension Inx. Associate Professor Shah, a material science engineer, is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois Chicago. Her research experience focuses on the biomaterials and tissue engineering fields with an expertise in developing and characterizing new biomaterial strategies for tissue and organ regeneration. Associate Professor Shah cofounded Dimension Inx in 2016.

Interview with Ramille Shah & Caralynn Nowinski Collens

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Caralynn Nowinski Collens, Cofounder and CEO of Dimension Inx. Dr. Nowinski Collens, a serial entrepreneur, MD and former VC, currently heads Dimension Inx as the CEO. She is passionate about building teams and organizations that harness technology to drive transformational change and improve the quality of people’s lives. Dr. Nowinski Collens joined Dimension Inx as CEO in 2019.

Interview with Ramille Shah & Caralynn Nowinski Collens

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This website is maintained by Osage University Partners (OUP), a VC firm that invests in startups founded by academics entrepreneurs. OUP conducts and writes all interviews in collaboration with interviewees. Please contact us at info@oup.vc with inspiring academic women entrepreneurs you would like to see highlighted.

For more information, please visit oup.vc.