Social Innovation Incubator at Duke

Being in the I&E “Design to Impact” Incubator means that we have a stake in your success.

Design to Impact is an incubator providing mentorship, coaching, and access to additional advisors and financial resources to compelling social entrepreneurship programs created by students. Originally Tony Brown’s ELI Incubator, this incubator now includes projects launched in his classes as well as other projects growing at the university level.

What does being in the Incubator entail?

  • The core of the program will include coaching from Social Entrepreneurship staff at Duke I&E and alumni who will provide you with as many resources as possible to help you and your venture succeed.
  • Incubator teams will also participate in meet-ups with the other teams in the incubator every semester.
  • Teams in the incubator will be required to send semester or semi-annual updates of progress and events, as well as an updated description of the project to Katherine Black ( and Matt Nash (
  • Incubator teams will receive special consideration for other resources such as conferences, funding, placement on Duke’s Indiegogo page, etc.
  • Students on incubator teams will also be invited to be student representatives at special events that we hold.

Requirements before applying:

  • Provide a well thought out “one-pager” describing your venture’s mission, accomplishments, and goals.

Please note: This concept of this incubator originated out of Tony Brown’s ELI program. Therefore, all projects/ventures that come out of Tony Brown’s Social Entrepreneurship class have special consideration, pending Tony’s endorsement, if they fulfill the application requirements. These teams can stay in the incubator for the allotted time if they have shown measurable traction with their venture.

How to be considered:

  • Set up a meeting with Katherine Black (
  • Please bring a “one-pager” describing your venture, including:
    • Brief project description and mission
    • Results to date
    • Goals for the future
    • Please include website or social media, if applicable.
  • It will then be decided if you will be accepted into the Incubator or if you need to spend more time on some project development.

If you are a student who is interested in joining one of the Incubator teams, please contact Katherine Black (

Current Projects in the Incubator

Early Diagnostic for Preeclampsia

The team is developing a urine-based point-of-care early diagnostic test strip which expecting mothers can use at home to self-screen for preeclampsia so they know when to seek medical care. In low and middle-income countries like Uganda, the average woman attends one prenatal care visit when she first realizes she is pregnant and does not return to receive health care until it is time for her to give birth or she is experiencing severe health problems. Without routine prenatal care screenings, knowing when complications are developing and when it becomes critical to seeking medical care is essential to the reducing the detrimental impacts of preeclampsia and eclampsia, and saving thousands of mothers and babies from preventable harm.

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HaBaby Food, LLC. is a social enterprise dedicated to providing infant malnutrition relief to families in refugee settlements around the world. Founded in 2016 by a team of Duke students, its mission is to become the first mission-driven, multicultural baby food company in the US. The team works together with resettled refugees to create baby foods for the domestic market that are not only organic and locally-sourced, but also reflect the culinary tastes of their homeland. Using profits from these sales, HaBaby purchases and provides ready-to-use infant malnutrition aid products to refugees in migration.

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Friends of Progress

Friends of Progress is creating the next generation of African leaders though mentorship with primary schools and university students. This is beginning with Primary School Kids in Kitui South County, Kenya.

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Global Concerns Leadership

Empower women and adolescent girls to become group and community leaders using a bottom-up approach in order to address issues defined by the girls and women and support them in building action-based strategies to achieve their goals.

Peer For You

Peer for You is a student-run resource that provides the space for undergraduate students to reach out and seek feedback and referrals to overcome times of struggle. Any Duke student can send a message to one of our Peer Responders that describes a struggle or challenge that they are currently facing. The selected Peer Responder will respond to the message within 24 hours. We hope these conversations will facilitate the sharing of personal experiences and that referrals will encourage students to make use of existing, supportive resources.

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Project Sapana

Project Sapana was created out of a vision to give the 180 children of Shree Janakalyan Lower Secondary School abundant opportunity to realize their dreams. By providing a hot and nutritious lunch at school every day, we hope to motivate these children to come to school regularly, enable them to focus in class, and provide the nutrition they need to reach their fullest potential.

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You’re Not Alone

You’re Not Alone is an initiative designed to provide a forum for students to connect with each other through the sharing of common struggles and experiences at Duke. The initiative will involve a three-pronged approach: an awareness campaign, a social media platforrm for anonymous sharing of vulnerabilities, and a series of dialogues.

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Past Projects in the Incubator

Connect Fellows

Duke Connect Fellowship is a two-year developmental fellowship program for first and second-year students that serves as a first chapter for those interested in entrepreneurship. This will include a preparation program as well as a unique internship experience where the student works directly with a highly established international entrepreneur.

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BioVitaal is a new health and wellness company dedicated to producing products to meet the needs of the global population suffering from iron deficiency. Our feature tool, Vitaal Gum, is an iron-enriched chewing gum, which offers low dose, slow release iron to combat iron deficiency anemia.

Durham Kitchen Connection

The Durham Kitchen Connection seeks to reduce poverty and empower individuals in Durham by educating, training, and employing at-risk youth ages 16-22 through a holistic job-training and life-skills program.


The app Genie is a platform that connects strangers in physical proximity based on how we can help each other. Genie bridges the gap between the demand of the user and the supply of intellectual and material capital in their immediate vicinity, while promoting peer-to-peer interactions with accountability. By using the platform to broadcast the demand or supply of a specific capital, users leverage their existing resources to generate mutual profit. The user can find the “right place at the right time” through Genie.

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The Girl’s Hub

The mission of Girls’ Hub is to build a community of female high school students, teachers, and Duke students as a mechanism of increasing agency and self-efficacy in ninth grade females.


Mamboly is a Social Enterprise which addresses education, conservation, and food security issues in Madagascar. Mamboly sponsors children to attend secondary school and learn about sustainable agriculture in the process. As part of their curriculum, students work together to restore degraded land and introduce new farming techniques to their communities.

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Starting From Scratch

Starting from Scratch is a student-led education initiative that introduces middle school and high school students in Durham to the exciting world of computer science. Duke student volunteers teach the fundamentals of programming through the creation of interactive games and animations using the online programming language, Scratch. Our mission is to inspire students to continue learning about computer science and the technology that shapes their lives.

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You Don’t Say is a campaign aiming to make Duke a more accepting community by creating awareness about use of certain offensive words.

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