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Stanford Emergence

In 2021, I joined forces with a number of colleagues at Stanford as Founding Emergence Fellow to launch Emergence, a new initiative catalyzing purposeful tech entrepreneurship for environmental and societal health. We started bringing together a community of researchers, entrepreneurs, faculty, investors, and other leaders to accelerate the emergence of new innovations and ventures driven by purpose and a sense of urgency in addressing some of the most pressing challenges that humanity is faced with, such as climate change and pandemics.


As part of this initiative, my team and I created an accelerator program and the Purposeful Entrepreneurship Covening, a yearly invite-only conference to discuss how the Stanford community can better inspire, educate, and support our students, researchers, and faculty to translate their research into impact addressing global and systemic challenges in the areas of Climate Change, Inequity and Societal Health through purposeful innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Last but not least, we created a few curricular innovations. In Spring 2022, we launched a new course on biodesign and entrepreneurship for societal health, together with colleagues from Stanford Biodesign, expanding and building on a previous Emergence course focused on biodesign and entrepreneurship for the environment, which was launched in 2021.

Climate tech, equi-tech, and deep tech are on the rise to help tackle global challenges of public interest. Fast Company and Nasdaq covered my thoughts on these trends and on the role of startups, large companies, and universities in this space. 

360° of Design Thinking in Technology & Society

Design thinking, also known as human-centered design, is an innovation and problem-solving methodology used to explore real-world issues and experiment with solutions that integrate what is desirable from a human point of view, with what is technically feasible and financially viable.

Between 2017 and 2019, I researched, prototyped and lectured about human-centered design at the intersection of technology entrepreneurship, policy and society as a Fellow at Stanford. I co-created the EU Knowledge Alliance "Smartup" to increase early stage venture creation in European universities through design thinking and other Silicon Valley best practices, and hosted the Smartup partners for a program that took place at the Stanford, the Graduate School of Business, VC funds in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Innovation.


Rethinking the way people create new technologies, business strategies, organizations and policies, among others, helps innovation flourish in thoughtful and responsible ways. Based on this idea, I explored how design thinking can be applied holistically to different aspects of technology and social systems in entrepreneurial settings. By working with extremely multidisciplinary teams and partner organizations, I helped design, prototype and test new technologies and business models, experimented with agile interfaces for innovation, re-imagined cities, industries, policies, habits and narratives, and explored human-centered AI.

Andrea Carafa, Stanford
design thinking
GES Impact Entrepreneurship
Andrea Carafa Stanford Global Entrepreneurship Summit Obama

Mainstreaming a double bottom line in entrepreneurship and investing

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) was launched by the White House under Barack Obama's first presidency. The first summit took place in Washington DC and was successively hosted around the world. During his final year of his second presidency, Barack Obama brought the Summit back to the USA, hosting it at Stanford in Silicon Valley.

While I was a fellow and resident entrepreneur at Stanford, I partnered with the U.S. Department of State to design and chair the Impact Entrepreneurship Initiative at the Summit. Purpose-driven entrepreneurship and impact investing are on the rise, bringing into the spotlight a double bottom line of profit-making and positive impact on society. How might we mainstream this trend? Should the words tech entrepreneurship and investing normally imply such a double bottom line? What are the future scenarios ahead of us?


These questions were discussed with the GES official delegates selected by the U.S. Department of State, as well as special guests from Silicon Valley and the World Economic Forum's network. The initiative included nineteen working groups focused on designing the future of specific industries, markets and projects and was hosted at the Stanford Learn more about some of the discussions we had at GES in this Fortune article.


Making European Universities More Entrepreneurial

Most European universities are not (yet) producing significant volumes of entrepreneurial outputs. However, Europe is increasingly in need of innovation and jobs creation. To tackle this problem, I co-created an EU Knowledge Alliance and a master's program aimed at spurring entrepreneurship and innovation in European universities through experiential learning, Silicon Valley's best practices and the engagement of local ecosystems. The master's program featured tracks in sustainability, social impact, and technology entrepreneurship.


My collaborators and I built a European network of universities, companies and foundations from nine EU member states, and Stanford as an extra-EU partner. Together, we designed and piloted Europe's first experiential Master's program in Entrepreneurship whose students' core deliverable is creating a social or technology venture. We also built digital tools supporting the program's participants throughout their venture creation and learning process.


My main contributions were: creating the partnership between Stanford, the European Commission (which funds the Alliance), and the University of Milan Bicocca (which leads the network); embedding design thinking and Silicon Valley innovation practices at the core of SMARTUP; leading the Stanford design thinking and entrepreneurship program for the SMARTUP European faculty and executives; facilitating the program's design and including the track on sustainability; leading the Stanford working packages; and lecturing and mentoring the first cohort of graduate students in Europe. 

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