SBA to Host Inaugural Innovation Ecosystem Summit November 15-17

Virtual Summit for Accelerators, Investors and Organizations Supporting America’s High Growth Tech Companies a First of Its Kind for the Agency

Washington, Nov. 15, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that the Agency’s inaugural Innovation Ecosystem Summit (‘the Summit”) is November 15-17. The Summit, a gathering of entrepreneurial support organizations (ESOs), will be a free, virtual event and is open to those who work with and support entrepreneurs from high-tech startups in research and development (R&D) and the lab-to-market space.

Administrator Guzman will kick off the Summit with opening remarks on November 15.

“We are proud to announce SBA’s inaugural Innovation Ecosystem Summit convening leaders across the country who are supporting America’s most innovative entrepreneurs,” said Bailey DeVries, Associate Administrator for the Office of Investment and Innovation. “The SBA recognizes that successfully launching and building an innovative business requires more than capital. The Summit brings together public and private sector partners who, day-in and day-out, help entrepreneurs access the networks, talent, resources, and financing necessary to turn brilliant ideas and technical expertise into startups. Under Administrator Guzman’s leadership, the SBA is working to strengthen America’s national and local innovation ecosystem to fuel our economy and protect our national security.”

Under Administrator Guzman, the SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation is set to play a critical role in driving funding to the nation’s tech startups and tech-related small businesses through its SBIR/STTR programs, also known as America's Seed Fund

Event details:

During the Summit, ESOs from around the country will be convened for networking opportunities and discussions on how to build inclusive innovation ecosystems. Sessions will touch on the following topics: 

  • Reflecting on and analyzing the current entrepreneurial landscape;
  • Improving diversity and inclusion efforts within the innovation ecosystem; and
  • Learn how to navigate government-funded lab-to-market programs such as SBIR/STTR and connect innovative entrepreneurs to SBIR/STTR resources and relationships; and

Attendees will represent a cross-section of leaders from incubators, accelerators, universities, private investors, corporations, state and local support groups, and other organizations working with startups and small businesses.  Connecting these national, regional, and local leaders to opportunities throughout the Summit will help these organizations:

  • Foster relationships built around shared interests and needs across communities; 
  • Leverage strengths around technology-based economic development; and
  • Discover creative, actionable ways to build an inclusive network that is supportive of startups led by women and other underrepresented communities. 

The Summit Speakers Line up (more speakers to be announced):

Monday, November 15 - 

  • Isabella Casillas Guzman, Administrator, SBA
  • Bailey DeVries, Associate Administrator, SBA Office of Investment and Innovation
  • Natalie Madeira Cofield, Deputy Associate Administrator, SBA Office of Women’s Business Ownership
  • Kathryn Finney, Founder &CEO/General Partner, Genius Guild/The Greenhouse Fund
  • JF Gauthier, Founder & CEO, Startup, Genome
  • Pat Riley, CEO, GAN
  • Tony Shipley, Immediate Past Chair, Executive Committee, Angel Capital Association; Chair, Queen City Angels
  • Rachel Jagoda Brunette, Program Officer, The Lemelson Foundation
  • Jennifer Sheih, Chief Scientist and Program Manager, SBA
  • Brittany Sickler, Senior Innovation Policy Advisor, SBA
  • John Williams, Director of Innovation and Technology, SBA

Tuesday, November 16 -

  • Mark Madrid, Associate Administrator, SBA Office of Entrepreneurial Development
  • Jenn Gustetic, Director of Early Stage Innovations and Partnerships, NASA 
  • Jason Rathje, Director AFVentures, AFWERX
  • Allie Burns, CEO, Village Capital
  • Lil Roberts, CEO & Founder, Xendoo
  • Preston James, CEO, and Co-Founder, DivInc.
  • Erick Page-Littleford, Senior Technology Policy Advisor, SBA
  • Carlos Gutierrez, Chief Strategy Officer, Larta Institute
  • Konstantin Izvolsky, Director, Consulting & Training, Foresight Science & Technology, Inc.
  • Jenny C. Servo, President, Dawnbreaker, Inc.
  • Siobhan Dullea, CEO, MassChallenge
  • Cecilia Wessinger, Founder, Mass Collaboration
  • Charles Ross, Interim President, and CEO, InBIA
  • Thyagarajan Nandagopal, Acting Deputy Division Director, National Science Foundation
  • Kellie Kubena, Deputy Chief Innovation Officer, USDA Rural Development
  • Eric Smith, Director, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Economic Development Agency

Wednesday, November 17 - 

  • Steve Case, Chairman, and CEO, Revolution
  • Victor Hwang, Founder & CEO, Right to Start
  • Elden Hawkes, Partnership and Innovation Specialist, SBA
  • Thomas Wavering, Executive Director, Tom Love Innovation Hub – University of Oklahoma
  • Jerry Hollister, Sr. Principal Consultant, BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting
  • Dana Catron, Director of Strategic Operations, Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University
  • Jason Rittenberg, Policy & Development Director, SSTI
  • Jason Kessler, Program Executive, SBIR/STTR Program, NASA
  • Stephanie Fertig, HHS Small Business Program Lead at NIH
  • Dusty Lang, SBIR Program Director, DHS

To view the full schedule for the Summit, please visit 2021 Innovation Ecosystem Summit - Nov 15 | Hopin. To register for the Summit, please visit:


About the SBIR and STTR Programs

The SBIR/STTR programs, also known as America's Seed Fund, are one of the largest sources of early-stage capital for technology commercialization in the United States and represent the nation’s largest source of early-stage research and development funding for small businesses. SBA coordinates the programs, collaborating with 11 federal agencies, who collectively supported more than $4 billion a year in federal research and development funding. To learn more, visit

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit


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