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|Mission||"Supporting Young Entrepreneurs Solving Significant Problems."|
The Kairos Society is an international nonprofit organization that seeks to develop entrepreneurs from universities around the world. Founded by Ankur Jain at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the organization supports programs at over 100 universities in 35 countries.
The Kairos Society was founded at the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 by Ankur Jain, an undergraduate at the Wharton School in the wake of the global financial crisis. The name "Kairos" is the Greek term for "the opportune moment" and reflected Jain's motivations for starting the organization. Speaking on CNN, Jain acknowledged that the financial crisis had forced many of his classmates and colleagues to reconsider careers in finance and that many had begun to start their own companies, but were finding the support structure in the university did not exist. While membership was initially limited to students at the Wharton School and later the University of Pennsylvania, it soon expanded to other top U.S. universities including Harvard, Stanford and MIT. According to their website, the organization runs programs at over 40 top universities including schools throughout China, India, Latin America and Europe. respectively. Jain is currently chairman of the board.
The stated mission of the Kairos Society is "advancing the world through entrepreneurship and innovation." In pursuit of this mission, the organization seeks to foster and develop innovation- driven entrepreneurship and high-impact enterprise through their international network of entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders. According to their website, the Kairos Society was founded on the notion the world's most pressing global challenges will create the future's most innovate new companies and holds that the most successful ventures have always been built around societal needs. As a result, the organization targets new companies in emerging sectors including clean energy, healthcare, biotechnology and medicine.
Membership is by invitation only and requires a formal recommendation from one of the organization's many advisers or partners. Membership is currently limited to entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and designers under age 25. Once nominated, prospective fellows are invited to submit an application which is reviewed first by regional leaders and then the central organization before a decision is made and new appointments are announced in September. Fellows are given a unique membership number and credentials to the organization's private social service as well as access to regional Kairos events and the organization's international summits in New York City and Den Haag. Once accepted, fellows remain active so long as they are building a high-impact company and upon graduate join the organization's active base of alumni. There are no membership dues.
The Kairos Society provides an opportunity for students to be mentored from a network of industry leaders. These mentors have included Carl Schramm of the Kauffman Foundation, Duncan Niederauer of the New York Stock Exchange, Peter Diamandis of the X-Prize Foundation, Bruce Mosler of Cushman & Wakefield, Admiral William Owens, former Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Maria Bartiromo of CNBC. Kairos invites mentors from diverse backgrounds to appeal to the various interests held by its members.
Each February, the Kairos Society hosts its annual global summit in New York City. Presented in partnership with the United Nations, the US Chamber of Commerce and the New York Stock Exchange, the event brings together Kairos fellows from around the globe with world leaders across business, technology and politics to discuss pressing global challenges and innovative market-driven solutions. At the New York Stock Exchange, the most innovative student-run startups get to showcase their products and companies on the stock exchange floor to a group of international investors and executives. Awards, hosted by the organization's partners, are held for the most innovative student-companies, previous winners have been working in regenerative medicine, enhanced diagnostics, portable photovoltaics, physical computing and inexpensive biofuels.
In addition to the Global Summit in February, the Kairos Society holds a European Summit each April in Den Haag, The Netherlands. The summit, held in conjunction with the World Foresight Forum and the Hauge Center for Strategic Studies, focuses on the role of entrepreneurship and technological innovation in international economics, security and geopolitics. Like the global summit in New York, the European summit brings together Kairos fellows with global leaders though with a more geopolitical focus. Previous speakers and panellists have included Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar
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