Entrepreneurship & Innovation

On February 1st, the German Center for Research and Innovation (DWIH) San Francisco, Lehigh University, University Alliance Ruhr, and the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center held the first in-person event of 2023. This event, titled “Advancing Entrepreneurship & Innovation” facilitated conversation with key stakeholders from government, academia, and industry to shed light on opportunities and best-practices for advancing entrepreneurship and innovation. Please click here for a downloadable summary of the event.

Here were the key takeaways from the event:

When it comes to entrepreneurship, founders should look like mentors. One of the biggest struggles is that mentors are mostly middle-aged white men while the highest number of growing entrepreneurial groups are black female entrepreneurs. Furthermore, during the first year of the pandemic, women dropped out of events at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center after 40 minutes to take care of family.  If mentors and institutes want to help women and BIPOCs be able to enter the entrepreneurial world, there must be changes made to the structural support given to these groups. Resources and help for entrepreneurs also need to be more accessible in order to be more accommodating to a wider range of people, in many cases having virtual events and mentorships helps accessibility.

Not only is there is a distinct lack of access for entrepreneurial resources for specific target groups such as women and BIPOC groups, when it comes to entrepreneurship location, background and previous exposure plays a large role in determining access and availability to mentorship and knowledge surrounding entrepreneurship. Also, even though many universities and higher institutions may have programs relating to entrepreneurship, researchers and academics at higher institutions might also not have access to entrepreneurial knowledge or mentorship. Even though many students at universities may not receive specific knowledge or mentorship regarding entrepreneurship, study abroad programs do teach many skills that are key for entrepreneurs, such as: risk taking, independence, building connections, etc.

One way to remedy this lack of access to entrepreneurial skills in general is to think about entrepreneurship as a language that is taught to people. This therefore would make entrepreneurship a teachable skill that could be measured and be tested, as you would in any other language or skill. We also must do better to identify the varied markers of success; the answer to success is not just capital. If you ask 100 people, there are 150 various answers on what entrepreneurs are and what success is.

However, there are more types of support needed for differing start-ups. For example, HE-based startups would need legal consultancy, educational entrepreneurship, and infrastructure resources such as co-working spaces, facilities, and equipment. These specific types of start-ups also would need funding for mobility programs and entrepreneurship or talent recruitment. This just proves that start-ups are not a “one size fits all” in terms of needs. There also needs to be diversification in terms of offers to potential startups as a start-up from life sciences would need very different support than a tech start-up.

In conclusion, we need to change our thinking when it comes to what makes a start-up successful. There also needs to be targeted mentorship that fits to the startup’s specific needs. A women-led start-up in tech is going to have different needs than a BIPOC start-up in life sciences and there should be resources available to address each of these different needs.


Oliver Schramm, Consul General of Germany

Oliver Schramm took up his post as the Consul General of Germany to Northern California, Oregon, Washington (State), Alaska, Hawai’i, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and American Samoa in August 2021.

From 2017-2021 he served as Minister for Economic and Global Affairs at the German Embassy in London. From 2014-2017, he served at the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin as the Head of Division for German Schools Abroad and International Sports Cooperation. His various roles within the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs have stationed him in Seoul, Boston, Washington/DC, Rome, Lima and London. Oliver began his professional career in 1991 working first in the Political Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bonn and then in the Federal Chancellery as a member of the Chancellor’s speech-writing group from 1995-98. He studied at Harvard from 2001-2002 and received an MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Prof. Dr. Tessa Flatten, Vice President International Affairs, TU Dortmund University

Dr. Tessa Flatten was elected vice president of the TU Dortmund University on 3 July 2020. As a member of the new Rectorate of the TU Dortmund University, she took over the new International Affairs division on September 1, 2020. She was appointed as Professor for Technology Management at TU Dort­mund University in 2015, having previously worked as an economist at RWTH Aachen University. She has many in­ter­na­tio­nal contacts in the USA, Asia, and Russia, among others, and has been a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, for ten years. At TU Dort­mund University she is a member of the advisory board of the Center for Entre­preneur­ship & Transfer (CET) and of the IT & Media Center (ITMC). She has been advising companies for many years and is advisory board member of Soptim AG.



Samantha Dewalt, Ed.D., Managing Director, Lehigh@NasdaqCenter

Dr. Samantha Dewalt is an entrepreneurial leader and strategic thinker passionate about inspiring others to reach their greatest potential through education and authentic leadership.

Dewalt serves as the inaugural Managing Director of Lehigh@NasdaqCenter, an exclusive education-industry partnership between Lehigh University and the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco. Lehigh@NasdaqCenter fosters the entrepreneurial mindset in students from diverse backgrounds and across all disciplines to create the risk-takers and change-makers of tomorrow. As managing director, Dewalt provides strategic and operational leadership for the center, develops innovative programs focused on entrepreneurial talent development, and promotes Lehigh@NasdaqCenter as a powerful platform for engaging with students, faculty, alumni and global partners.

Dewalt has 16 years’ experience leading strategic innovation in entrepreneurial environments, serving industries including retail, healthcare, technology and higher education. Dewalt joined Lehigh University in January 2015 as the inaugural Senior Director of Industry Engagement within the newly formed Office of Economic Engagement. In this role, Dewalt created a new model for industry engagement and led the team in its mission to create university-level strategic partnerships that advance education and build capacity for innovation. She also currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Lehigh University, and as Faculty Advisor for the Lean-In Circle, a student led organization that supports the advancement of women in technology and leadership.

Prior to joining Lehigh, Dewalt spent three years as the inaugural Associate Director of IT Corporate Engagement at the University of Oklahoma, following six years in business as Vice President of Marketing for Cole Technology Group and as Partner and Vice President for Hal Smith Marketing Group. Dewalt graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Oklahoma. She earned a doctorate in Organizational Leadership at Pepperdine University and completed her dissertation on authenticity and women in technology leadership.

Nicola Corzine, Executive Director, Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center 

Nicola Corzine serves as theExecutive Director of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, a non-profit that delivers world-class resources and mentoring to enable every entrepreneur across the globe to realize their maximum potential. As Executive Director, Nicola is responsible for strategic and operational leadership that help drive research, programing, fundraising, and operations for the organization.

Nicola brings over 15 years of strategic business development and entrepreneurial thought leadership programming experience to the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, most recently in her role as Investment Manager for the Band of Angels, a position held since 2004 as well as Partner in the 2009 Acorn fund. During her time at the Band, she was as an early advisor to Startup America and led the development of the first national and regional Angel Capital Association conferences.

Prior to Band of Angels, Nicola was the founder and executive director of Financing Partners, an organization that delivered education to both entrepreneurs and investors to enable them to reach their mutual objectives. Before Band of Angels, she was part of three startup companies in the US and UK.

Nicola is a frequent speaker on angel investing, technology trends and seed financing at Universities including Stanford, Wharton and Duke, national conferences, including IEEE Women in Engineering, NVCA and Innovation Enterprise, and has served as a formation advisor to several regional and international angel groups and seed funds.

The event is organized by the German Center for Research and Innovation (DWIH) San Francisco, The University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr) North America, Lehigh University and Lehigh@NasdaqCenter.

Hedi Razavi, Ph.D., Managing Partner,

Dr. Hedi Razavi is an entrepreneur, business leader, advisor, and technologist with a passion for building impactful ventures. She is currently the managing partner at German Entrepreneurship and leads the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Competence Center with a mission to enable the adoption, expansion, and internationalization of AI technologies and products developed in Germany.

Previously, Hedi was the director of products at C3 AI, the leading provider of enterprise AI solutions, and managed various AI enterprise products. Prior to that, she co-founded and led a Silicon Valley AI+IoT company, Keewi Inc., from idea to exit and focused on transforming electrical outlets to powerful sensors that render the built space more environmentally efficient. Hedi lived in Germany before her entrepreneurial endeavor while leading a global team at St. Jude Medical from the world-renowned Heart Center in Leipzig, Germany. She worked on developing AI-enabled products for heart failure patients resulting in 25 patents and numerous peer-reviewed journal publications.

Hedi completed her M.S. and PhD in Bioengineering at Stanford as a National Science Foundation Fellow and a Siebel Scholar. She received her BS in Bioengineering from the University of California at Berkeley as the recipient of the departmental citation award, the highest honor bestowed upon a student in recognition of distinguished work.