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Dominique Carter-Flowers ’09 was among 100 ascending leaders in entrepreneurship and innovation to attend a global brainstorming forum in China: a chance to make business contacts for her planned private ventures.

International Conference Fuels Carter-Flowers’ Entrepreneurial Dreams

As a scholar, scientist and entrepreneur, Dominique Carter-Flowers ’09 has an extraordinary skill set. Pushing science from the lab to the market is her current focus. 

The St. Norbert College alumna is using the knowledge she gained at a recent global brainstorming session with some of the United States’ and China’s emerging entrepreneurs to help accomplish her business goals. Carter-Flowers recently returned to her fellowship at the National Science Foundation in Alexandria, Va., after participating in the inaugural U.S.-China Youth Forum on Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Shenzhen, China, in early December.

The forum brought together 100 ascending leaders in entrepreneurship and innovation from the U.S. and China with the goals of fostering international partnerships, securing venture capital and expanding economic opportunities between the two countries. It was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the All-Youth China Foundation. 

“Right now, I’m working to catalyze global partnership in science, technology and innovation, specifically with emerging economies in Africa and Europe,” says Carter-Flowers, an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) science and technology policy fellow. “These are developing countries that don’t necessarily have the means or available infrastructure or science capabilities to have global partnerships in science with more established countries.

“My work while in [the office of International Science & Engineering at the NSF] is to determine if in fact there are such capabilities. We’re trying to find synergies where the National Science Foundation and alike agencies in those countries can work together to form collaborative scientific relationships.”

The forum in Shenzhen provided an opportunity for Carter-Flowers to learn more about global economics and opportunities, while allowing her to make business contacts for future private ventures: a social-entrepreneurship endeavor that would encourage broader participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics from underrepresented populations and women, and a commercial lab to test plant-based medical products. Carter-Flowers has a Ph.D. in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics from the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“It was a fantastic experience, a richly rewarding experience” Carter-Flowers says. “It was interesting to learn the differences and similarities in how America and China approach entrepreneurship. Traditionally speaking, China’s approach to entrepreneurship is very much government-regulated and government-mandated.  

“In America, we have venture capitalists and angel investors that will fund any and every idea. In China, I’ve learned that many of the entrepreneurship endeavors are either initiated or encouraged by the Chinese government,” she says.

Carter-Flowers says the trip was an invaluable learning experience, helping her gain a broader knowledge of international business and become more familiar with China’s creative methods of cultivating business success.

“It was a worthwhile experience learning about what kind of sectors are priorities in the Chinese market compared to the American market,” says Carter-Flowers. 

“It was really exciting to meet both American and Chinese entrepreneurs and people that are working to either influence or spearhead innovation, both domestic and abroad,” she adds. “With me launching two businesses in the coming year, it was a great opportunity to start navigating this phase of my life and to make the right connections early on.”

Those connections, with American and Chinese entrepreneurs and investors as well as former presidential appointees in business and development areas, could determine Carter-Flower’s career path in the coming years.

“It put me in prime position to accomplish all the goals I’ve set for the next couple years,” she says. Culturally, the trip to Shenzhen was equally invigorating, she says.

“Being able to access a different country and experience a different culture, it’s immensely rewarding,” says the Chicago native. “Just to try and view life on a global level is interesting, knowing that whatever problems you may face, they may or may not be viewed as problems, depending on where you live. It’s always good to kind of burst your bubble. If you get accustomed to living in a certain climate, or a certain way, it’s good to see how others live their lives.”

As we prepared to publish this issue, we learned that Carter-Flowers has recently been selected as the American Society for Microbiology 2018 Young Ambassador of Science for the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. In this role, she will promote global partnership and innovation in the area of microbial science.

Feb. 6, 2018