University of Richmond management professor awarded grant to support research on effective design of accelerator programs

February 4, 2016

Susan Cohen, assistant professor of management in the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond, has received a three-year grant of $95,813 from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The grant will support her research on effective design of accelerator programs, which provide educational and mentorship opportunities for groups of startups as they build their businesses.

“With over 300 accelerators in the US, and thousands globally, accelerators are seen as an important innovation in how we help launch startups, how we spur local entrepreneurial ecosystems, and how seed funding is distributed,” said Cohen. “However, we know little about what makes some programs more successful than others. The goal of this research is to illuminate how program design choices, like the number of startups that participate the program or the types of mentorship provided, relate to program outcomes.”

Cohen, who has taught corporate strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship at UR since 2013, is the co-director of the annual U.S. Seed Accelerator Rankings Project, the results of which are released during the South by Southwest annual conference. Her research focuses on organizational learning in early stage entrepreneurial firms participating in accelerator programs, as well as firms confronting radical innovations. She also served on the founding team of and has helped build numerous other companies. 

She received her B.A. in applied mathematics at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Based in Kansas City, Mo., the Kauffman Foundation provides educational resources for U.S. entrepreneurs, works to accelerate metro-area entrepreneurship hubs and helps supporting organizations that assist entrepreneurs. The foundation also works to advance entrepreneurship by providing research-based knowledge to entrepreneurs, policymakers and others. In addition, it aims to foster economic independence by advancing youth educational achievement. Learn more at