New Face, New Pace, Innovation Beyond 2016

April 1, 2016   |   Kelly Callahan-Poe

This powerful session, at SXSW, featured Michelle Lee, the first woman to head the US Patent and Trademark Office sharing insights on how intellectual property and inclusive entrepreneurship optimize American innovation.

As an advocate of inclusion across all demographics, Lee stated that women only hold 7% of patents and account for only 15% of inventors in the U.S. Additionally, only 26% of women are in computing jobs in the U.S., and just 12% are engineers.

These facts alone demonstrate how important it is to increase women in STEM fields and to encourage more women to be inventors and creators. Lee wants to empower innovators by making sure they are supported at every stage in the pipeline across geographic and demographic boundaries.

As a result, the US Patent and Trademark Office launched “All in Stem” which encourages girls and women alike to pursue STEM degrees and work in STEM careers for the benefit of the economy and society.

Panelists Sonia Sousa, Jessica Richman, Jessica Matthews each provided their own insights for entrepreneurs.

From turning things into bite sized projects and attacking things step by step, to being fearless for what you need to do everyday, women need to go above and beyond. While it may be harder for women to get funding, by being resourceful through crowdfunding sites like or matching grants, women can expose our successes.

Jessica Matthews, Founder and CEO of Uncharted Play and inventor of the SOCCKET ball, an energy generating soccer ball that provides off grid power for the developing world suggested a similar approach. She believes that women can create their own eco systems to give themselves a competitive advantage.  From Harlem’s first Tech Fund, to looking at how other countries are approaching these problems with their own innovation programs, women can become the new face of innovation in 2016 and beyond.