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Past and Present Projects

Research Projects

Funded by Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship 

  • Keyvan Kashkooli
    Keyvan Kashkooli, Leavey School of Business
    An Exit, Not an Entrance: Career Mobility and Employment Opportunities for BIPOC Founders
    Increasing entrepreneurship rates in communities of color is recognized as a valued component of efforts to reduce inequality. There is widespread awareness that increasing rates of BIPOC entrepreneurship offers an important path to reduce social inequality.-- This research aims to fill this gap by analyzing the career trajectory of these founders as they exit entrepreneurial ventures whether through a return to the broader labor force or a continuance of entrepreneurial ventures.

     Learn more about the researchers Keyvan Kashkooli and Peter Younkin

  • Andy El-Zayaty
    Andy El-Zayaty, Leavey School of Business
    The Future of the Pitch: Crowdfunding Investor Responses to AI Generated Pitches & Imagery

    This study takes a closer look at the impact of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Tools on entrepreneurial pitches in a crowdfunding context. This research will address questions like - Does explicitly noting that text or images were generated by AI tools – regardless of whether they were actually generated by these tools – influence the perceptions of potential crowdfunders? For example, if a pitch is marked as being generated by an AI tool despite being written by a human author (or vice versa), does this impact crowdfunder perceptions? The goal of this project is to explore the ways in which potential crowdfunding investors react to AI generated pitches/imagery.

    Learn more about researcher Andy El-Zayaty

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    Di Di, College of Arts and Sciences
    Religious Entrepreneurs and Social Media: Religious Influencers as Digital Entrepreneurs

    The aim of this study is to understand the experiences of religious influencers as entrepreneurs through interviewing religious influencers on major social media platforms. This process will lead to understanding how religious influencers use innovative and entrepreneurial strategies to reach their audiences, spread their values, and influence their online communities. Interviews will be conducted online with religious influencers based in the US from a variety of religious backgrounds. 

     Learn more about the researcher Di Di.

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    Jennifer Woolley, Leavey School of Business
    Exploring the Relationship Between Genetic Firm Founders’ Gender and Firm Outcomes and Innovation

    Studies have shown a dearth of women in STEM entrepreneurship and innovation and have explored reasons why so few women start firms or take innovation related careers; however, few studies look at those who are thriving in these roles. This research examines examine the relationship between gender, educational background, work experience, and genetics firm outcomes to determine what influences success for women entrepreneurs in STEM fields. This project primarily entails interviewing women entrepreneurs of genetics firms to discuss their experiences starting and growing their companies.

    Learn more about researcher Jennifer Woolley.

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    Hsin-I Cheng, College of Arts and Sciences
    Asian American Women Entrepreneurs’ Engagement in the U.S. Racial Reality

    The purpose of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of how Asian American women entrepreneurs of 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 generation of immigrants engage in racial dynamics in the United States. The second part of this project furthers the research into an applied project. With experiences learned from Asian American women participants, the significant lessons will be translated into narratives. These “critical incidents” of interactions in the forms of narratives will be recreated into virtual reality content and be used for educational purposes. The final product will be the creation of three to five of VR scenarios.

    Learn more about the researcher Hsin-I Cheng.

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    Zhiquiang Tao and Yi Fang, School of Engineering
    Fairness-Aware Talent Management System via Meta Attribute Learning

    In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) based talent management systems have been widely developed to improve recruiting efficiency with large-scale applicants. As a rough estimation, such AI/ML-aided systems have landed in 33% of organizations to assist the processes such as talent search, hiring decision, performance assessment, etc. While these “intelligent” systems greatly facilitate the whole recruitment process, one critical question raises–Are these methods smart enough to make a fair decision? 

    In this project, the researchers will design and develop a fairness-aware talent management system, which aims to encourage diverse prediction results and alleviate the negative effect from data bias.

    Learn more about researchers Zhiqiang Tao and Yi Fang.

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    Maya Ackerman, School of Engineering
    Investing in Black Founders: Understanding & Correcting Bias in Venture Capital Allocation

    It is well known that the allocation of venture capital funds is highly biased. Yet, despite this wide-spread awareness, bias not only persists, but continues to grow. According to Pitchbook, in 2019, female founders raised just 2.7% of the total venture capital funding invested and mixed gender founding teams received 12.9%. In 2020, funding given to female-only teams dropped to 2.2% with mixed-gender teams receiving just 12.2%. As one of the least represented racial groups in venture, black founders receive only 1% of venture capital funds.

    Biases persist despite evidence that diversity offers a performance advantage over homogeneous teams: Racially and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to yield financial returns above their industry medians, and in the United States, there is a positive linear relationship between diversity and financial performance. The same holds for gender diversity. 

    While it is well-known that entrepreneurs’ race and gender play a role in investor decision making, commonly held beliefs on how bias manifests and what should be done to address it are fraught with error. It is as such unsurprising that efforts to help women and minority founder entrepreneurs are proving ineffective. Lacking an accurate understanding of the situation, well meaning efforts continue to fail and at times even exacerbate the problem.

    Learn more about researcher Maya Ackerman.

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    Drew Starbird, Jill Martin, Leavey School of Business & Yacanex Posadas
    The Motivation and Performance of First- and Second-Generation Latino Small Business Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

    The purpose of this study is to get a better understanding of the challenges facing Latino entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. With this understanding, we can identify opportunities for new policies, institutions, and programs that support greater entrepreneurial success in immigrant communities, both locally and nationally.

    Learn more about the researchers, Drew Starbird and Jill Martin.

    Read their published work here!

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    Lanny Vincent, School of Engineering
    The Jesuit Way for Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Pedagogy and Practice

    This project is composed of two phases. The purpose of this Phase 1 study is to inventory and assess who is doing what in curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular contexts in ten Jesuit Universities in North America that apply Jesuit principles to innovating practice. Phase 2 of the study is envisioned to broaden and deepen the research towards articulating a "Jesuit Way" for the entrepreneurial to innovate. The research of both phases intends to ground answers to three questions in actual practice and experience: 1) Is there a Jesuit way for the entrepreneurially-minded to innovate (not just in commercial or social enterprises)? 2) If so, what is it? and 3) If so, what are the implications for Jesuit Universities in North America?

    Read the full research report on A Jesuit Way of Innovating.

    Learn more about researcher Lanny Vincent

Curriculum Development Projects

Funded by Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship 

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    Lanny Vincent and Chris Kitts, School of Engineering
    Expanded Design Thinking Course Sequence with an International Component

    Design Thinking (DT) is a process and suite of techniques centered around creative problem solving. It typically involves the development of deep empathy for those being served, the identification of specific problems, the use of creativity techniques, the development of prototypes, and the evaluation/test of these prototype concepts. As such, it can be considered as an area within the overall domain of the entrepreneurial mindset.

    This course will enhance student understanding and practice of DT concepts and principles, challenge students to solve complex problems motivated by the real needs of actual corporate clients, and engage students in collaborative activities with international partners, thereby exposing them to different cultural practices and design considerations and requiring them to operate in a distributed manner with different schedules.

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    Keith Yocam and Kathy Sun, School of Education and Counseling Psychology
    Design Thinking for Educational Leadership

    This project will develop an online course to support school and district leaders to use design thinking to address organizational and educational challenges at all levels, from day-to-day to more complex problems. Design thinking provides a process and techniques for educational leaders to reframe challenges to create effective solutions. Engagement in design thinking has the potential to support educational leaders’ competence to problem solve and develop their compassion and understanding for the multiple stakeholders in their institutions. Engagement in the design thinking process also has the potential to give voice to those whose voices might often be overlooked in educational settings. As such, design thinking has some alignment to various Jesuit values.

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    Erika French-Arnold, Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Leavey School of Business
    Sustainable Food Systems

    This course will enhance students’ understanding of the existing food system and provide a framework for determining how and where they might contribute to a more sustainable and just system. The objective is to study the existing food system, issues of food access, justice and sovereignty as well as opportunities to use technology and innovation to create a more just and sustainable food system. It is designed with multiple experiential learning components, and a focus on utilizing innovative methods to address significant issues in the food system and with a professional component to help students who are interested in transforming the food system to network and learn about jobs in the food industry.  

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    Jessica Kuczenski, School of Engineering; Christelle Sabatier, College of Arts and Sciences; Sean O'Keefe, Leavey School of Business
    Career Launch

    This course will teach students how to create relationships with professionals to accelerate their career exploration, tap into the hidden job market, and build self-confidence related to career. Career Launch is a social enterprise that was incubated at Santa Clara University and scaled through Sean O'Keefe's participation in the Bronco Venture Accelerator. The purpose of the course is to teach and guide students to be intentional and proactive to build professional relationships from scratch as a means to access the hidden job market. Students will learn how to access companies and organizations they are interested in. As a result of the course, students will increase their self-confidence and professional skills to access the hidden job market.

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    Aleksandar Zecevic, Department of Electrical Engineering; Lanny Vincent, School of Engineering; Matthew Gaudet, School of Engineering
    Ethics, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship - A Jesuit Perspective

    This curriculum and staff/faculty development project address issues at the intersection of ethics, innovation and entrepreneurship. In thinking about how Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) align with the culture and values of Santa Clara University, the Jesuit “way of proceeding” has cultivated principles and practices that are precursors to the principles and practices which we now associate with I&E. This project develops course modules that integrate seemingly disparate disciplines such as philosophy, engineering and business. It also offers training to our faculty, and gives them an opportunity to deepen their knowledge on the relationship between ethics, technological innovation and entrepreneurship, including distinctly Jesuit perspectives. Students, staff, and faculty will learn about key concepts that define what is meant by “responsible” innovation and entrepreneurship, and will be able to articulate how these concepts apply to their technical discipline.