University of Utah

Sorenson Project DEEP (Developing Equitable Economies Program)

Salt Lake City, UT

Venture Challenge

Federal Share: $600,000
Local Match: $600,999

Project DEEP is a technology-based initiative designed to establish a theory and proof of concept for economic development driven by gender and race equity, entrepreneurship, and innovation. The program works in tandem with the Sorenson Equitable Economic Development (SEED) Fund, which directly provides capital to businesses founded by black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and women.

Project DEEP will be the first university-based program to support economic development by building a supportive ecosystem for women and BIPOC, unlocking the potential of these populations to contribute to the Utah economy. The program takes a multipronged approach to dismantling systemic inequities by: (1) equipping diverse entrepreneurs with the skills to accelerate enterprise growth and access human capital; (2) facilitating connection with new and existing capital providers and enabling investors to support inclusive innovation; (3) supporting capacity development organizations with strategies that help them better support diverse entrepreneurship; and (4) establishing replicable and scalable best practices for coordinated public and private economic development initiatives.

Amidst the current Covid-19 crisis and nationwide uprisings against racial discrimination, Project DEEP is timely and critical for fostering equitable economic recovery and development. Project DEEP can demonstrate the potential to drive change and stimulate economic development through intentional regional collaboration.