Glen Ellyn, IL - Business incubator and accelerator InnovationDuPage (ID), has partnered with Autism Angels Group (AAG) to provide ongoing support to neurodivergent entrepreneurs.
The mission of the Neurodiverse Entrepreneur Program (NDEP) is to increase business leadership opportunities for people with developmental and/or cognitive differences such as autism, dyslexia, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and other related diagnoses. Companies with neurodivergent leaders serve as role models for future entrepreneurs while illustrating that neurodiversity can be a strength. NDEP celebrates and invests in the success of startups and small companies that have neurodivergent leaders in C-Suite roles(e.g., CEO, CFO, Directors, founders, or cofounders).
Innovation DuPage, a non-profit venture and business startup incubator affiliated with the College of DuPage, has partnered with Autism Angels Group, the world's first neurodiversity social impact investment association, and the Transition2Success Project, creator of a proprietary evidenced-based wrap-around support model and inclusion training program that has been shown to help neurodivergent individuals thrive at key life transition points. The three organizations have come together to fund, offer, and host NDEP to drive success among neurodivergent entrepreneurs, founders, and business leaders.
"NDEP is about showing how cognitive differences can drive organizational success in new business ventures," stated Joe Cassidy, Innovation DuPage President and Chair. "Along with our partners, we are committed to powering innovation and expanding the frontiers of emerging industries. This program is a perfect example of that commitment as well as our commitment to embracing diversity and inclusion in all its forms."
Last year, two of our remarkable entrepreneurs were invited to speak at the Stanford Neurodiversity Summit upon their graduation from the program.
Nick Lehecka, the creator of Wove - a high end bicycle parts manufacturer expressed, “As an autistic adult facing challenges in corporate and academic settings, entrepreneurism is vital for my self-sustainability. The capital and mentorship provided by the Neurodiverse Entrepreneur Program was critical to getting my startup off the ground. My company has become profitable just after a year.”
The application is now open for a chance to be selected to participate in this next business accelerator cohort. The application deadline is December 31st, with winners announced early January 2024. The program will officially kick off in early February.
Companies selected to be a part of NDEP will receive:
● A $4,000 microgrant from Autism Angels Group
● Access to Transition2Success Project’sT2S-Neurodiverse Entrepreneur Support Model™ ($5,000 value)
● Innovation DuPage MVP Membership($2,700 value)
● Participation Owner to CEO, Innovation DuPage’s10-week Business Accelerator Program (7,500 value)
Dr. Maureen Dunne, co-founder of Autism Angels Group remarked, ”NDEP is a first-of-its-kind incubator partnership model that is paving new opportunity pathways to support neurodivergent leaders through entrepreneurship. Throughout history, many of our most iconic entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, and innovators were neurodivergent thinkers. Initiatives like the Neurodiverse Entrepreneur Program are essential to the task of weeding out unproductive biases so we can all benefit from the talents and creativity of different kinds of minds.”
Cathy Schwallie Farmer, co-founder of Autism Angels Group added, "AAG is excited to support another cohort of Neurodiverse founders in their early startup journey through our partnership with Innovation DuPage.
About Innovation DuPage
Innovation DuPage (ID) is a nonprofit venture that unites start-up founders and small business owners with the people, resources, and programs that support their growth. Members collaborate across an extensive network of enterprise, academic, economic development, and research partners. Through its 4 primary development programs, ID supports the startup community, enhances regional prosperity, attracts world-class talent, and drives sustainable economic growth.
Since its founding, ID has served hundreds of entrepreneurs residing in DuPage County. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) recently awarded Innovation DuPage the2021 Award of Excellence for Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership for its demonstrated success in advancing economic prosperity in the greater community. For the past four consecutive years, members of Innovation DuPage have won the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from The Daily Herald.
About Autism Angels Group
The mission of the Autism Angels Group is to bring together capital and talent to aggressively drive economic opportunities and technology-driven solutions that create a positive social impact for the autism community. AAG welcomes partnerships with individuals, organizations, and institutions that wish to join in investing in people, private markets, and for-profit enterprises that seek to include and empower those on the autism spectrum. AAG’s nonprofit arm awards microgrants to entrepreneurs with fiscal sponsorship under the Organization for Autism Research (OAR).