EGK Starters

Timeframe: 2020-2021
Funder: IIE Centennial Fellowship

Funded by IIE Centennial Fellowship and delivered through Cornell University in partnership with Northumbria University, EGK Starters is a five-month, design-led, accelerator-like programme, for Black and brown small business owners based in Birmingham, Alabama (US), looking to scale their businesses but in need of innovation support to do so. As part of a connected suite of action-research projects, the Get Ready to Innovate (GRTI) innovation readiness programme is being delivered as the Phase I of the EGK Starters programme. Through a series of action-focused interventions, our international team of researchers and design practitioners works together with Birmingham-based BIPOC-led businesses to explore their innovation opportunities. The suite of projects (delivering GRTI in the NE of England, in Armenia & in Birmingham, Alabama) is leading to new knowledge about the effectiveness of rapid design-led intervention, innovation, and enterprise creation. In the Phase II of the EGK Starters programme, the businesses are being supported to reach, develop, and communicate the innovation opportunities outlined in Phase I through a series of meet-ups that includes mentoring, workshops, and masterclasses. Finally, building upon Phase I & Phase II, Phase III – the last one of the programme, sees the business owners, alongside our team & their mentors, preparing and rehearsing their pitch before delivering it at the Closing Demo Day, which aims to improve their pitching skills, with the potential to earn seed funding (first-round funding) for their venture. Overall, the aim of this programme is to close the opportunity gap between BIPOC-led businesses and angel/VC investments, whilst simultaneously allowing the researchers to generate critical knowledge about the present causal barriers. *BIPOC: black, indigenous, and people of colour.