PSU Launches Social Innovation Incubator to Support Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs

January 27, 2010 at 10:51 pm Leave a comment

Incubator Welcomes Charter Members, Announces Educational Workshops

Portland, Ore.) February 1, 2010 — Portland State University’s School of Business Administration has launched the Social Innovation Incubator (SII), a new program fostering entrepreneurial solutions to today’s unprecedented environmental, social and economic challenges.

A growing number of innovators are working to simultaneously generate social, environmental and economic value through entrepreneurial action. The Social Innovation Incubator assists these individuals: early-stage social entrepreneurs, and social “intrapreneurs” focused on launching new initiatives within established organizations. Chosen through a selective application process, SII members receive strategic support for business planning, marketing and fundraising. Services include one-on-one consulting, mentors and coaches, pro bono legal education, and networking.

“The Northwest is a hotbed for environmental and social innovations, and Portland’s entrepreneurial sustainability ecosystem is quickly evolving,” says Cindy Cooper, director of PSU’s Social Innovation Incubator. “We are excited to support innovators and strengthen local initiatives that will create jobs and proliferate sustainable practices here and around the World.”

Administered by PSU’s Center for Global Leadership in Sustainability and PSU’s Entrepreneurship Center, the Social Innovation Incubator taps into the intellectual assets of Portland State University faculty, staff, and student consulting teams, as well as expert advisers in social innovation from Portland and beyond. Two initial incubator members, Sustainable Harvest and Preciva, highlight SII’s unique approach.

Sustainable Harvest, a well-established sustainable coffee importer, joined SII to foster two in-house, intrapreneurial projects:

  • A Oaxaca, Mexico-based roasted coffee business and training center that will benefit disadvantaged youth, low-income farming communities and the environment; 

  • Development of a Web-based program to help farmer cooperatives track their business and coffee sales more effectively, empowering farmers to connect with buyers and access information necessary to sell their coffee in higher-paying markets. The application will be piloted in Tanzania in 2010 and will eventually be available to farmers all over the world.

“PSU’s Social Innovation Incubator understands that our company encompasses activities that traditionally have been divided between the corporate and the not-for-profit worlds,” says David Griswold, Sustainable Harvest founder and president. “They’re helping us to develop this hybrid model for social enterprise, guided by the shared belief that business should strive to affect social change while also growing the bottom line.”

Preciva is a hybrid start-up developing electronic tests for cervical cancer that are more accessible, accurate, and supportive of women’s informed involvement in their own healthcare. In low-income countries where screening is limited, the technology will be able to save lives through early detection. Preciva’s products also offer advantages that will transform the practice of screening in high-income countries, says Craig Miller, Preciva CEO.

“The Social Innovation Incubator is helping us to advance a business model for medical device development that has rarely or never been promoted in the United States,” says Miller. “We’re excited to be in this living laboratory with them.”

The Social Innovation Incubator is led by Cindy Cooper, who teaches social innovation and entrepreneurship in the graduate programs of PSU’s School of Business Administration. Prior to launching the SII, Ms. Cooper co-founded Speak Shop, an award-winning B Corporation offering Spanish lessons with tutors in Guatemala. She brings previous experience managing a social entrepreneurship incubator in the Bay Area, as well as nonprofit and for-profit management experience. She has consulted on social innovation and sustainability projects with clients such as Nike, Meyer Memorial Trust, and Ashoka.

SII Entrepreneur Workshop Series
“Social Entrepreneurs: How the Law Can Be Friend or Foe to Your Mission”
Monday, February 1, 2010, 6–8 p.m.
MercyCorps Northwest, 43 S.W. Naito Pkwy., Portland, Ore., 97204

On February 1, 2010 the Social Innovation Incubator, MercyCorps Northwest and Swider Medeiros Haver LLP kick off a series of legal workshops for entrepreneurs.

“We are excited about working with SII and MercyCorps NW to provide a series of legal education seminars— a key component of entrepreneurial training,” says Tichelle Sorensen, an attorney and workshop presenter from Swider Medeiros Haver LLP. “We believe that creativity and innovation are key to both economic recovery and creating solutions to ongoing social, environmental, and economic challenges.”

To RSVP for workshops visit…

For more information about or to apply to the Social Innovation Incubator, visit or contact Cindy Cooper (
# # #

PSU’s Social Innovation Incubator
The Social Innovation Incubator at Portland State University’s School of Business Administration provides launch support to social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Forged within the Center of Global Leadership in Sustainability in response to student and community demand, the SII’s mission is to catalyze economic, social and environmental prosperity through entrepreneurial action. For more information visit

Sustainable Harvest
Based in Portland, Oregon, Sustainable Harvest is a specialty coffee importer that impacts the lives of more than 180,000 coffee growers in communities across Mexico, Central and South America, and East Africa. The company’s approach to trade builds direct, transparent market linkages for coffee growers while investing in training and management systems to improve their ability to produce a better quality coffee. Sustainable Harvest imports one of every eight pounds of Fair Trade coffee sold in North America, making it one of the leading specialty coffee importers in North America. For more information on Sustainable Harvest, please contact Laura Tilghman at or 503-235-1119; visit the company’s website at

Preciva and Civa Health
Location in Portland, Oregon, Preciva is working with its non-profit partner Civa Health to develop affordable, electronic testing and diagnostic tools to ensure every woman has an equal chance to live free of cervical cancer. For more information visit or contact Anaïs Tuepker (

PSU’s Center for Global Leadership in Sustainability

The Center for Global Leadership in Sustainability provides education and training for students and community members on how business can address modern social challenges. The center builds on the School of Business Administration’s recognized international leadership in sustainability-related curricula and research. For more information visit

PSU’s Entrepreneurship Center

Based on the premise that developing an entrepreneurial mindset is a lifelong imperative, the PSU Entrepreneurship Center (EC) will launch in 2010, and provide support to strategic initiatives such as the Social Innovation Incubator. By promoting “inclusive entrepreneurship,” the EC will assist entrepreneurs across PSU’s campus and surrounding region to heighten their chances of reaching the marketplace. The EC builds on a foundation created through the National Science Foundation-funded Lab2Market program at PSU in contributing to the economic vitality of the region. For more information, contact the EC’s academic director Melissa Appleyard, 

Sustainability at Portland State University

Portland State University faculty engage in leading-edge research and teaching on issues critical to the Pacific Northwest and beyond, including sustainable urban communities, climate change, ecosystem services and renewable energy. PSU’s 49-acre campus creates a vibrant and urban living laboratory for best practices in green building and conservation, right in the heart of the nation’s most sustainable city. In 2008, PSU received a ten-year, $25 million challenge grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, in support of research, teaching and partnerships in sustainability. The grant is administered by PSU’s Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices.

News Release

For Immediate Release (#10-003)

 David Santen, Office of University Communications, 
Portland State University | 503-725-8765

 Cindy Cooper, Center for Global Leadership in Sustainability

School of Business Administration, 
Portland State University

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

SII Launch Covered in Sustainable Business Oregon

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