Inclusive Entrepreneurship Program offered by Blackstone Launchpad and Taishoff Center

Students work around a table in the blackstone launchpad in bird libraryAn innovative, interdisciplinary program focused on inclusive entrepreneurship and design is being offered for the 2020-2021 academic year in partnership with the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars (LaunchPad) at Syracuse University Libraries, the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education (InclusiveU), and the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) through the generous donation from Gianfranco Zaccai and the Zaccai Foundation for Augmented Intelligence (Intelligence++TM). The program will offer new courses open for fall enrollment and will culminate in a design and entrepreneurship competition with $30,000 in prizes.

The inclusive entrepreneurship and design course, DES 400-600, is being taught by VPA School of Design professor Don Carr, with support from School of Education inclusive education assistant professor and executive director of the Taishoff Center, Dr. Beth Myers, and adjunct faculty member at Whitman and executive director of the LaunchPad, Linda Dickerson-Hartsock. The two-semester program, taught in the LaunchPad at Bird Library, is available as an elective to both undergraduate and graduate students from any school or college at Syracuse University, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary and collaborative innovation, including students with intellectual disability from InclusiveU.

This flagship program is made possible through the generous donation of the Zaccai Foundation for Augmented Intelligence, founded by Gianfranco Zaccai. The Zaccai Foundation seeks to develop, stimulate, and leverage technological, educational, and organizational innovation to enable and empower individuals with intellectual disability, their families, and their communities to improve quality of life, enhance independence and productivity, lower cost, and benefit society.

Concepts developed throughout the course will be presented to a panel of experts in a culminating competition in the spring 2021, with $30,000 in seed funding awarded to the most promising ideas for further development.

“To my knowledge, this is the only program that integrates students from various disciplines with students with intellectual disability into collaborative teams to problem solve design solutions,” said Beth Myers. “Incorporating perspectives from all users and participants will most certainly result in an enhanced and sustainable user-focused experience.”

For more information about the program, contact Don Carr at, Beth Myers at or Linda Dickerson Hartsock at

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