Carol Kraus Lauffer
Since joining Business Cluster Development as a Principal in 2002, Carol has helped more than 80 clients across the U.S. to plan and create successful strategies and programs that support entrepreneurship, create new businesses, move innovative products to market, and build strong ecosystems, resulting in economic diversification, job creation, business engagement, technology commercialization, and economic growth.
Prior to joining BCD, Carol was Managing Director of Panasonic’s corporate, venture-backed incubator in Cupertino, California and a Principal in its $100 million venture fund. Then, as the Associate Director of the Software Development Forum (now, SV Forum) in San Jose, California, Carol planned workshops and events for software startups, connected entrepreneurs with investors, and built strategic partnerships with leading Silicon Valley technology companies
Carol has more than 30 years of experience in economic development and management. She began her career at the University City Science Center in Philadelphia where she managed the Ben Franklin Partnership’s grant program for incubators and other small business assistance programs.
As a dedicated member of the industry, Carol has served on association boards, including the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA, formerly NBIA) and the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). She held the post of Chair of the Board of Directors of InBIA in 2010-11. Carol is a course instructor for both organizations’ certification programs, and a frequent speaker on best practices for business acceleration/incubation and entrepreneurial support programs, strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystems, and targeting technology clusters for economic development. In April 2015, InBIA honored Carol with the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement, recognizing her significant contributions to the association and the industry.
As a volunteer for IEDC and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s disaster recovery initiative, Carol traveled to Caguas, Puerto Rico to advise a non-profit food business incubation and farm organization on strategic priorities for recovery after Hurricane Maria, and to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in 2019 to assess the needs of small businesses and foster resiliency after Supertyphoon Yutu.
Carol earned a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from Northwestern University. She is a travel enthusiast with visits to almost 60 countries across 6 continents and 46 U.S. states.