Innovation DuPage Launches New Program for Neurodivergent Founders in Partnership With the Autism Angels Group

Neurodiverse Entrepreneur Program

Business incubator and accelerator Innovation DuPage (ID) has partnered with Autism Angels Group (AAG) to provide ongoing support to neurodivergent entrepreneurs. 

The mission of the Neurodiverse Entrepreneur Program (NDEP) is to increase business leadership opportunities for people with developmental and/or cognitive differences such as autism, dyslexia, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and other related diagnoses. Companies with neurodivergent leaders serve as role models for future entrepreneurs while illustrating that neurodiversity can be a strength. NDEP celebrates and invests in the success of startups and small companies that have neurodivergent leaders in C-Suite roles (e.g., CEO, CFO, Directors, founders, or cofounders).

Innovation DuPage, a nonprofit venture and business startup incubator affiliated with College of DuPage, has partnered with Autism Angels Group, the world's first neurodiversity social impact investment association, and the Transition2Success Project, creator of a proprietary evidenced-based wrap-around support model and inclusion training program that has been shown to help neurodivergent individuals thrive at key life transition points. The three organizations have come together to fund, offer, and host NDEP to drive success among neurodivergent entrepreneurs, founders, and business leaders.

"NDEP is about showing how cognitive differences can drive organizational success in new business ventures," stated Joe Cassidy, Innovation DuPage President and Chair. "Along with our partners, we are committed to powering innovation and expanding the frontiers of emerging industries. This program is a perfect example of that commitment as well as our commitment to embracing diversity and inclusion in all its forms." 

After a competitive selection process, Wove LLC and DaniMation Entertainment were chosen as the first two companies to participate in the Neurodiverse Entrepreneur Program: 

  • DaniMation Educates, Elevates, and Empowers transitioning youth on the autism spectrum by providing animation programs to turn their animation passion into a career. (
  • Wove LLC manufactures premium bicycle parts with a focus on innovation and performance. ( )

Companies selected to be a part of NDEP received:

  • A $4,000 microgrant from Autism Angels Group
  • Access to Transition2Success Project's T2S-Neurodiverse Entrepreneur Support Modelâ„¢ ($5,000 value)
  • Innovation DuPage MVP Membership ($2,700 value)

"NDEP is a first-of-its-kind incubator partnership model that is paving new opportunity pathways to support neurodivergent leaders through entrepreneurship," remarked Dr. Maureen Dunne, Chair of College of DuPage Board of Trustees. "Throughout history, many of our most iconic entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, and innovators were neurodivergent thinkers. Initiatives like the Neurodiverse Entrepreneur Program are essential to the task of weeding out unproductive biases so we can all benefit from the talents and creativity of different kinds of minds."

Dr. Dunne will be a Keynote Speaker at the 2022 Stanford Neurodiversity Summit and will be highlighting the importance of investing in neurodiversity innovation and inclusion. This year's NDEP-selected companies, DaniMation and Wove LLC, will present on a separate panel on Entrepreneurship, moderated by Dr. Dunne. The Stanford Neurodiversity Summit will take place virtually from Oct. 23-25, 2022. Over 5,000 global attendees were registered at last year's Summit, where the Neurodiversity Entrepreneur Program was first announced. 

About Innovation DuPage
Innovation DuPage (ID) is a nonprofit venture that unites startup founders and small business owners with the people, resources and programs that support their growth. Members collaborate across an extensive network of enterprise, academic, economic development and research partners. Through its four primary development programs, ID supports the startup community, enhances regional prosperity, attracts world-class talent, and drives sustainable economic growth. 

Since its founding, ID has served hundreds of entrepreneurs residing in DuPage County. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) recently awarded Innovation DuPage the 2021 Award of Excellence for Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership for its demonstrated success in advancing economic prosperity in the greater community. For the past three consecutive years, members of Innovation DuPage have won the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from The Daily Herald. 

About Autism Angels Group
The mission of the Autism Angels Group is to bring together capital and talent to aggressively drive economic opportunities and technology-driven solutions that create a positive social impact for the autism community. AAG welcomes partnerships with individuals, organizations and institutions that wish to join in investing in people, private markets and for-profit enterprises that seek to include and empower those on the autism spectrum. AAG's nonprofit arm awards microgrants to entrepreneurs with fiscal sponsorship under the Organization for Autism Research (OAR).


Dan Facchini, Managing Director, Innovation DuPage
[email protected]

Elyse Benjamin, Autism Angels Group

 [email protected]

Source: Autism Angels Group


Tags: Autism Angels Group, Community Colleges, Dr. Maureen Dunne, Entrepreneurship, Grants, Innovation DuPage, Maureen Dunne, Neurodiversity, Neurodiversity at Work, Venture Capital

About Autism Angels Group

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The mission of AAG is to bring together capital and talent to aggressively drive economic opportunities and technology-driven solutions that create a positive social impact for the autism community.

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