Santa Clara University

SCU Today

University Press Releases

Back to Blog

Lessons for Success in Social Entrepreneurship: Conference at Santa Clara University Will Highlight the 2011 Tech Awards Laureates and Drill Down on What Makes Such Enterprises Thrive

Thursday, Sep. 22, 2011

Event follows a unique “Speed Pitch” exercise by the laureates in front of 18 Silicon Valley VCs

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 22, 2011— An Oct. 19 conference at Santa Clara University will examine factors driving the success of social enterprises that have collectively benefited more than 33 million people. In addition, the conference will feature the 15 global businesses being honored as 2011 Tech Awards laureates for their use of technology to benefit humanity, by The Tech Museum and partners Applied Materials and Santa Clara University.

The 2011 Nexus Conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Oct. 19, at the Paul L. Locatelli, S.J., Student Activity Center at SCU, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053.

The afternoon of the Nexus Conference will culminate with a keynote presentation by Kristine Pearson, CEO of Lifeline Energy. As a former Tech Laureate, Kristine will speak firsthand about Lifeline’s growth over the past decade as they have pursued their mission of providing orphans, women, and refugees with sustainable access to education, information, energy, and light.

Panelists and speakers for the Nexus Conference will include leaders of social ventures, researchers, and funders such as India-based IT training company Anudip, health and development technology company DataDyne, social-entrepreneur investor aggregator, and social-entrepreneur community-builder Ashoka. They will share successful experiences in finding funding for social businesses, building an organization where revenue grows faster than expenses, and creating productive partnerships among diverse ecosystem constituents.

The Nexus Conference, which is  open to the public, is expected to bring together Silicon Valley VCs and business leaders; current and aspiring social entrepreneurs; impact investors and foundations funding social enterprises; and the broad Santa Clara University community. This event will provide a unique opportunity to get to know the laureates at late morning “elevator pitches,” an informal networking lunch and an afternoon reception, during which the laureates will showcase their innovations.

“The Nexus Conference honors the Tech laureates while learning from exceptional entrepreneurs who have ascertained factors enabling substantial social impact,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at SCU. “We are excited to unite many of the ecosystem players who share a vision of fostering a more just, humane, and sustainable world through social enterprise and innovation.”

Organized and hosted by Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society, with support from Applied Materials and the Skoll Foundation, the Nexus Conference is part of a weeklong series of activities and opportunities that The Tech Museum, along with its partners, provide for its laureates. The laureates are 15 socially minded organizations from around the world honored for using technology to address the most pressing problems that face humanity, as defined by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.  The week includes specialized business and media training and networking with leading tech companies, venture capitalists and academics.

Judging for The Tech Awards is conducted by Santa Clara University's Center for Science, Technology and Society (CSTS) and led by Santa Clara University faculty. The CSTS acts as an independent party that organizes and convenes five panels of expert judges representing academia and the public and private sectors to select the 15 laureates. One laureate in each of five categories will be awarded a $50,000 cash prize at the signature Tech Awards Gala on October 20, held by the Tech Museum with support from partners Applied Materials and SCU.

 “The elevator pitches at the Nexus conference will be a great opportunity to learn more about the laureates’ innovations and organizations,” said Gina Rodolico, chief operating officer of clean-energy investment company E+Co. She adds, “E+Co has invested $45 million in clean energy enterprises and we know that the kind of training and mentoring for social entrepreneurs that the Global Social Benefit Incubator provides can be invaluable in creating a sustainable and high-impact organization.”

Other Tech Awards Laureate Events

* Speed Pitching. In advance of the Nexus Conference, this year’s Tech laureates will also give brief, 60-second “speed pitches” describing their missions and business models to leading Silicon Valley venture capitalists and impact investors.

*Mentoring. As part of The Tech Awards, all laureates receive mentoring from Silicon Valley executives and entrepreneurs. The work helps them hone their mission statements, value propositions, and business models, and assists them in perfecting the elevator pitches essential to fundraising. The mentoring is modeled after SCU’s nine-year-old, signature capacity development program for social entrepreneurs, the Global Social Benefit Incubator™. 

More information about the conference can be found at

About the Center for Science, Technology, and Society
The mission of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS) is to promote the use of science and technology to benefit underserved communities worldwide, primarily by working with socially minded entrepreneurs. The CSTS implements its mission through its signature program, the Global Social Benefit Incubator, its partnership with The Tech Museum in The Tech Awards program, Frugal Innovation Labs, and its numerous educational and public engagement activities. CSTS is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University that embody the University’s mission to create a more just, humane, and sustainable world. More information can be found at

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

About The Tech Awards
The Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials in association with the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University, is a signature program of The Tech Museum. The program recognizes a Global Humanitarian and 15 international laureates in five categories - Environment, Economic Development, Education, Equality, and Health - who are recognized for their work to change lives around the world for the better.

Media Contact:
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | 408-554-5121 |
Angela Bitting | Bitting Communications | 925.202.6211 |


Tags: CSTS, social entrepreneurs, TechAwards

Printer-friendly format