Engage 2020

Engage 2020

Princeton's new innovation and entrepreneurship conference

Engage 2020

Engage 2020

It happened November 4-6! 

Now watch the videos and explore the virtual booths.

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Innovate. Collaborate. Impact.

We hope you were able to join us for Princeton's inaugural innovation and entrepreneurship conference November 4-6.

Many thanks to the thousands of you whose participation and collaboration helped make this landmark event useful, thought-provoking and inspiring!

With more than 50 sessions and 170 speakers, Engage 2020 was designed to bring together Princeton researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs with those who can accelerate their work and its impact.

But Engage 2020 isn't over. You can watch all sessions!

Hear from Princeton’s researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs in fields such as energy and sustainability, bioengineering, art and architecture, and social impact. Discover the possibilities for your company to engage with Princeton. Learn about Princeton-related innovations and startup companies, New Jersey scientific research facilities, and Princeton Innovation campus partners. Connect with the innovation ecosystem.

And reach out to us so we can start working together!


On the Agenda

Among the featured speakers

Brad Smith

The Future of Collaboration and Inclusive Innovation: Microsoft + Princeton

Microsoft President Brad Smith '81 will frame a session about the collaborative relationship of Princeton and Microsoft with a review from around the world on the nature of innovation in the 21st century, the issues it is raising, and the opportunities for Princeton both on campus and in partnership with others. A live Q&A with Smith and Vice Dean for Innovation Rod Priestley will lead into a faculty panel focused on Princeton's work with Microsoft in biology, computer science and public affairs.

Kwanza Jones

Uncover the Invisible: A Supercharged Playbook for Investing with Impact

Artist, investor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and sought-after speaker, Kwanza Jones '93 will deliver the keynote address. As the co-founder and CEO of the Kwanza Jones & José E. Feliciano SUPERCHARGED Initiative (KJSI), she has created numerous opportunities by committing more than $75 million to founders, fund managers, and educational organizations. It's all part of her mission to boost a billion lives for the better. Think of her as your billionaire #boostfriend.

Pablo G. Debenedetti

Tackling COVID-19: Princeton Pandemic Research and Solutions

Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti will lead a faculty panel discussing four Princeton-funded research projects focused on Covid-19 and the value of academic research as a driver of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Andrea Belz

Partnership Perspective from the National Science Foundation: Invention to Impact

Learn directly from Andrea Belz, Division Director of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) at the National Science Foundation, how angel investors and their portfolios can benefit from and support more opportunities for all. The IIP manages America’s Seed Fund powered by the NSF, the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™), Partnerships for Innovation and Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRC).

Andrea Goldsmith

Educator-Entrepreneur: A Personal Journey

Hear Princeton's Andrea Goldsmith, new dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical Engineering, talk about her personal experience as both a faculty member and technology entrepreneur and share her perspectives on innovation, entrepreneurship and leading Princeton's engineering school. 

Bonnie Bassler

Partnering for Patients: An Industry & Academia Collaboration Case Study

Learn how to create a successful collaboration, from two very different laboratories pursuing the same critical goal: developing treatments for severe unmet medical needs through science. Bonnie Bassler, the Squibb Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Biology, will talk in-depth about her lab's partnership with HotSpot Therapeutics and their joint pursuit of potential antimicrobial therapeutics targeting bacterial cell-cell communication.

Leonard Wantchekon

Diversity in Innovation: Perspectives from Africa

As universities grapple with inequity and the lack of underrepresented researchers in STEM fields, they rarely look beyond the United States. Leonard Wantchekon, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and founder of the African School of Economics in Benin, will discuss with colleagues the rich innovation in Africa and by Africans in the U.S., in fields such as applied mathematics, statistics, biomedicine and economics.

Sam Wang

Empowering Citizens: The Princeton Gerrymandering Project

Less than 48 hours after Election Day, Professor of Neuroscience Sam Wang and the Princeton student founders of Representable.org, a grassroots initiative that supports efforts to eliminate partisan gerrymandering at the state and federal levels, will discuss how their work provides tools to empower citizens to weigh in and become full partners in the process. The data tools of Representable.org started as a project for a Princeton class.

Featured Tracks


For the entrepreneurially-minded

A robust slate of webinars, skill-building workshops and Princeton-related startup showcases will offer entrepreneurs and those who work with them an abundance of thought-provoking opportunities.

Mikko Haataja, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Luc Deike, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Princeton Environmental Institute; and Craig Arnold, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

For faculty, researchers, companies, government, foundations and external partners

Get practical ideas from case studies and in-depth discussions of how Princeton researchers are working with external partners to advance research and have impact beyond campus in science, technology, social science, humanities  and social action.

Jean Schwarzbauer pointing to poster

Celebrate Princeton Innovation

This year, our annual event goes virtual, becomes part of Engage 2020, and features deep dives on seven faculty innovations and a Princeton-related company.

Princeton cleanroom

New Jersey Core Facilities Showcase

Now in its second year, the Showcase sessions and virtual exhibit booths will highlight research services and equipment offered by academic institutions from around the Garden State.

person standing within data flow

Data Science in Oncology and Immunology

In this in-depth workshop, industry partners and academic researchers will explore areas of mutual interest and identify potential collaboration in the areas of biomedical data science, computational oncology and computational immunology. 

Among the sessions you'll want to dive into

Global Pandemic vs. Venture Capital: How to Win

Emerging Investment Trends and Opportunities 

Venture Funding 101

Fundraising for Early Stage Startups
Jim Cohen ’86 and Mark Poag ’93, Fitz Gate Ventures

Overcome the Funding Hurdle

Funding My Clean Energy Startup
Andrew Hsieh *14, Feasible; Steph Speirs *14, Solstice; Angelo Campus '16, BoxPower; Elizabeth Washburn Surti '08 (moderator), Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

Money Matchmakers

Succeeding at Securing Non-dilutive SBIR/STTR Funding for University Spinoffs and Advanced Technology Startups
Kirk Macolini, InteliSpark

From Student to Startup – Young Alumni Panel

The Path from Innovation to Entrepreneurship

In collaboration with the Keller Center

The Art of Social Change

Arts, Media & Social Justice
Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri '01

In collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts

Sports and COVID-19

Changing the Game: Innovations in Professional Sports in Response to COVID-19

In collaboration with Princeton University Athletics

Weather the Storm

Smart Cities: Water System Resilience

Climate Change + Coastal Threat

Environmental Resiliency: Sea Water Rise

In collaboration with the High Meadows Environmental Institute

Message from the Vice Dean for Innovation

Thank you for your interest in Engage 2020. As Princeton’s Vice Dean for Innovation, and with wonderful colleagues across campus, I’m dedicated to helping advance the University’s mission of research and teaching through innovation.

As educators and innovators, we understand the value of partnerships and a strong network of resources. We welcome collaboration with partners in industry, education and the government. We also facilitate valuable connections that enable innovators to help transform ideas and discoveries into real-world applications. 

I’m continually inspired by the innovation and entrepreneurship culture in our University community, and I invite and encourage you to experience it firsthand at Engage 2020. Our hope is that Engage 2020 will spark your creativity, generate productive connections, and advance your journey of innovation. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you in November.

Rodney D. Priestley
Inaugural Vice Dean for Innovation (2020-22)
Dean of the Graduate School, effective June 1, 2022

Conference Co-Chairs

Coleen Burrus
Corporate Engagement and Foundation Relations
Anne-Marie Maman
Executive Director, Princeton Entrepreneurship Council


All Engage 2020 sessions were recorded. Please visit the conference playlist.

Building a better future

Engage 2020 is presented by Princeton Innovation, an initiative of the Office of the Dean for Research, and was organized by the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council and the Office of Corporate Engagement and Foundation Relations. 

Programming support was provided by Princeton Innovation Campus Partners, including: The Office of Technology Licensing, the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, Princeton Innovation Center Biolabs, gradFUTURES, the Princeton Catalysis Initiative and the Office of the Provost Institutional Equity & Diversity.