Welcome to The Hub, your spot for ecosystem and accelerator news. In this news roundup, we provide you with the latest on organizations working to support, educate and fund innovators and their ideas. We’ll highlight cohort applications, people to know in the incubator world and programs working to give resources to those who typically don’t have access elsewhere. As always, we’re focused on underrepresented entrepreneurs — such as women, people of color, and those geographically outside power centers — and organizations supporting these demographics. 

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A California Museum Plans To Incubate Native American Food Startups

The California Indian Museum and Culture Center in Santa Rosa, California will launch a food incubator for Native American food startups in the next year, its director, Nicole Lim, said. The goal is to provide entrepreneurs with the tools and knowledge necessary to create traditional food — such as recipes with acorns — which has become increasingly challenging. 

“There’s a lot of competition in our so-called wine country for food businesses, and they’re not able to compete in a traditional Farmers Market setting,” Lim said. “So we want to provide a setting where those businesses can grow and have success.”

It’s possible due to a $180,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $20,000 from the Yocha Dehe Community Fund, which will fund the program and a 5,000 square foot warehouse the museum is building for the incubator. The space will include a teaching kitchen, food storage, and equipment such as freeze drying machines and cold water leaching stations, which will be available for the community to use. 

Details of how the incubator will run have not been decided yet. In the meantime, the museum is hosting cooking classes and its food sovereignty program for its community.

Food has long been a focal point of the museum, which aims to connect its community with the traditions of the 24 Pomo and Miwok tribes in the area, Lim said. The incubator program was inspired by food sovereignty education in the museum’s long-running youth group — some of the kids that started in the youth group when they were nine or 10 are now college students, Lim says.

“We looked at food in terms of not just our physical health related to dietary diseases, issues with historical trauma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, all of these things that have extraordinary rates in killing our relatives and our community, but also looking at the health of our culture,” Lim said.

With the help of Kickapoo chef Crystal Wahpepah, the group developed Acorn Bites, a bite-sized protein bar with the Pomo staple food of acorns as the primary ingredient. A pack of three bites sells for $5 on its website. The group also sells at farmers markets. Proceeds go back into the education programs at the museum, according to its website. 

The acorn represents many of the larger climate, land privatization and policy issues the tribe faces, Lim said. For one, acorn harvesting season coincides with wildfire season, which reveals the history of ignoring native ecological practices, she said. There’s also many challenges to gathering acorns. It’s often on private land, which requires a permit, and gathering outside the 24-hour window of the permit is a misdemeanor and a $1,000 fine, she said.

“Being able to share our food with other people and educate them about the importance of our food I think really generates respect for tribal communities, the continuity of our traditional knowledge and our connection to place in ancestral territory,” Lim said.

Transylvania U To Launch Entrepreneurship Center

Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, is launching a Center for Entrepreneurship, according to a university announcement. The small private liberal arts school (its undergraduate classes are typically just under 1,000 students) is hoping to bolster its curriculum by offering entrepreneurship opportunities for its students. It plans to first roll out a series of workshops and speakers series, as well as a startup competition, according to the announcement. The center is part of the university’s strategic focus to attract more students and enhance the experience there. 

The university is seeking a director for the center, according to the announcement. 


$10 Million Fund For Neurodivergent Innovation

Entrepreneur and venture capital investor Amol Deshpande has committed $10 million in a new San Carlos, California-based fund to invest primarily in entrepreneurs working on neurodivergent solutions, according to a news release. The fund is seeking early-stage startups to back, according to the release. Deshpande, who is the CEO and co-founder of San Carlos-based Farmers Business Network, is the sole investor for the fund. 

$5.4 Million For Healthcare Innovation at University of Michigan

The University of Michigan launched an accelerator program to help its students develop and launch health care innovations, thanks to a $5.4 million donation from Eleanor and Michael Pinkert, who both graduated from the school, according to a university announcement. The donation is also funding graduate scholarships. The program, called the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator, plans to hold two annual cohorts and accept 15 students each time. It ran its first cohort during the winter.

Names to Know

Kathryn Wendell is the new executive director at the University of Colorado, Boulder Leeds School of Business Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, according to a university announcement. She is the former director of Stanford’s Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, a program that incubates social-impact startups based in Africa and Asia and the former corporate social responsibility manager at Chevron. She’s currently  on the board of the Kennebunkport Climate Initiative, a group that is working to empower young people to fight climate change.

Toby Teeter was recently named the director of a new initiative out of the University of Arkansas, which aims to propel the state’s innovation ecosystem, according to a university announcement. The program, called the Collaborative, aims to catalyze tech and data science in the state through research and innovation and is funded by a portion of a $194.7 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation. Teeter previously served as the head of the Chamber of Commerce in Joplin, Missouri. He’s also the founder of an outdoor apparel company called Omni Brands.

Open Applications

Uber Co-Founder’s Accelerator Seeks Pre-Seed Founders

The San Francisco-based Expa Accelerator is accepting applications for its next cohort, according to a news release. The six-month program is seeking pre-seed founders who want to pursue Seed and Series A rounds. The accelerator was started by Uber co-founder Garrett Camp in 2013. Accepted entrepreneurs will receive $250,000 or $400,000 in funding, as well as mentorship and networking. The accelerator has had a $100 million boost from investors such as Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson and HP CEO Meg Whitman, according to a 2016 Crunchbase analysisApplications are available on its website.  

Rochester Software Accelerator For Non-Technical Entrepreneurs 

A new accelerator by Rochester, New York-based NextCorps aims to train a group of non-technical entrepreneurs in software development, the Rochester Beacon reports. The program, called NextCorp Embark, will help entrepreneurs in the Finger Lakes launch a software startup during the up to 12-month program. Selected entrepreneurs will receive mentorship from leaders from the University of Rochester and at Excell Partners, according to the article. Applications are due Aug. 20.

Free Digital Media Program For Black Entrepreneurs in Syracuse

Syracuse University and Syracuse nonprofit Center of Hope International are launching a free digital media training program for Black entrepreneurs, Syracuse.com reports. The program, called the Black Media Mogul Maker, aims to give the 25 selected entrepreneurs the skills necessary to market their story and business online, according to the announcement. The program seeks entrepreneurs with interest in making their brand a lifestyle one. Center of Hope is hosting an information session on July 21. 

Brick and Mortar Incubator Space For Orlando Entrepreneurs

An incubator space for artists and entrepreneurs looking to sell their products in a brick and mortar location is opening in the Milk District of Orlando, Florida, Orlando News 6 reports. The space, called The Milk District Spot, is renting from one day to 90-day contracts, according to the article. A single day costs $50 and larger packages have not been priced yet, according to the article. Entrepreneurs interested in using the space can apply online.

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.