About Us

The Corporate Accelerator Forum gathers corporate innovators who work with startups.  Since 2017, our private curated community has shared stories, tools and techniques for stakeholder influence, startup collaboration, ecosystem creation/enhancement.

If you’re working with startups or thinking about it, you’ll want to join us!  CAF experiences are fully interactive and focused on maximizing insight and learning, with themes developed by members, for members. Learning Scientist Dr Diana Joseph, leads the way.

Open innovation is a crucial element of the corporate innovation toolkit. And it’s not easy — typically corporate processes are designed to favor short-term requirements such as efficiency, alignment and clean reporting, over long-term requirements like brainstorming, experimentation and partnering outside the organization. At the Forum, you learn directly from the experience of pioneers in this work, alongside your peers.

CAF Story

CAF emerged from founder Diana Joseph’s entrepreneurial practice, following the formula she developed, grounded in the learning sciences, Lean Startup, design thinking and her experiences in academia, non-profit, and corporate innovation.  Following a widely-shared vision that everyone needs to be more entrepreneurial, Diana explored multiple missions.

Sponsors and Attendees

Amanda Cashin, Ph.D.

is the Global Head of Illumina Accelerator, a leading company creation engine and investment vehicle focused on building genomics-driven startups. Founded in Fall 2014 in San Francisco, Illumina Accelerator is investing in emerging startups, advancing breakthrough applications in genomics, including applications in therapeutics, women’s health, cancer diagnostics, consumer nutrition, agriculture, synthetic biology, and skin microbiome.

Chris Haskell, Ph.D, Vice President and Head, Open Innovation Center – North America West at Bayer

Dr. Chris Haskell leads Bayer’s West Coast Innovation Center, located in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco. The West Coast Innovation Center supports Bayer’s Drug Discovery activities by developing and managing partnerships with U.S. academic research institutions and life science companies. Haskell is also responsible for cultivating life science startups within the CoLaborator, a biotech incubator space adjacent to the West Coast Innovation Center. The CoLaborator, which houses a number of startup life science firms, fosters collaboration between Bayer and emerging innovators.

Lisa Mendoza, Ph.D, Business Development, External Innovation & Alliances, Open Innovation Center – North America at Bayer

Dr. Lisa Mendoza is Associate Director with Bayer’s R&D partnering organization located in San Francisco at Bayer’s West Coast Innovation Center. Dr. Mendoza has identified and pursued partnerships with academic and biotech researchers focused on novel therapeutics of strategic interest to Bayer with a primary focus in cardiology and vascular disease. She has managed strategic alliances focused in benign hematology and cardio-pulmonary indications and negotiated several master agreements for research collaborations. Most recently, the alliance with University of Pittsburgh focused in cardio-pulmonary research was launched in late 2016.

Our Mission and Vision

Everybody has to be more entrepreneurial.  That goes for organizations as well as individuals.  The pace of change is too high to count on a steady, reliable mechanized routine — we all have to see opportunities and experiment our way to impact.  Being entrepreneurial is the path to self-determination.

Corporates play a key role in the ecosystem/s in which we all live and work.  They can’t do everything by themselves — they need partners … and the partnering isn’t easy!  CAF brings together corporate innovators who work with startups.  Together we can see the landscape, develop best practices, and navigate the complex social environment that comes from bridging giant highly-aligned corporates with small high-urgency startups.  CAF is by corporate innovators, for corporate innovators — all events are curated and designed for maximum impact.

Meet Our Team

The Corporate Accelerator Forum is curated — every Membership begins with a conversation. We’re eager to learn about your corporate innovation journey, and glad to share more information about the Forum.

Diana Joseph is a design thinking leader and an innovation and entrepreneurship consultant. A former high-tech innovation director with a doctorate in Learning Sciences, Diana brings together techniques from motivation psychology, education, and Silicon Valley innovation methods such as design thinking and Lean Startup. The idea for the Corporate Accelerator Forum arose in a conversation between Diana and Amanda Cashin of Illumina, wherein Diana offered to wave a magic wand for one wish, and Amanda asked for a meeting between accelerator leaders.  We’ve since learned that other corporate innovation leaders share the same wish!  The Corporate Accelerator Forum is Diana’s way of making the wish come true.

Operations Lead Grace Gallardo-Oliver is a startup veteran, community volunteer, tutor, and operational leader with global experience. Grace has previously worked in banking, customer relations, and accounting. She holds a degree of Economics from Santa Clara University. She joined CAF in 2019 and brings over 20 years of experience in planning, implementing and managing projects. She aims to make every CAF experience as seamless and meaningful as possible.

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