Morgan Stanley today announced the seventh cohort of the Multicultural Innovation Lab, an accelerator program for technology and technology-enabled startups in the post‐seed to Series B funding rounds. The program, now in its sixth year and with 59 total participating companies to date, targets startups with a multicultural or woman founder, co‐founder, CTO or other C-suite member that is developing innovative solutions across sectors. Through the Lab, Morgan Stanley makes investments in these early stage, high-growth companies and supports each founder’s growth and development through its global ecosystem of internal and external partners.
“This year marks a new milestone for the Lab as we prepare to welcome the largest class ever of women and diverse founders with two cohorts in the U.S., as well as the inaugural EMEA cohort in the summer,” said Selma Bueno, Managing Director and recently appointed Head of the Multicultural Client Strategy Group. “Our research has identified a trillion-dollar investment blind spot as a result of the funding gap for multicultural and women-owned businesses, but our ever-growing portfolio of groundbreaking, diverse startups provides direct evidence of success in supporting these companies.”
The companies that have been selected for the Winter 2022 cohort include the following:
- BrandXR is a no-code Augmented Reality creation platform and award-winning XR creative studio.
- Cognitive Talent Solutions is an AI-powered Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) platform that helps companies visualize and analyze informal connections between employees by leveraging active and passive data sources, enabling them to foster informed decision-making.
- Lab4U is an educational platform that transforms built-in smartphone sensors as lab equipment to improve STEM education with hands-on pre-designed experiments.
- Meytier is an AI-enabled, diversity-focused jobs platform that runs a blind screening and scoring model to offset bias and provides hands-on coaching services for candidates through the recruiting process.
- Notice Ninja is an AI-powered cloud software company that streamlines processes, standardizes communications, and automates workflows for tax and compliance notice management.
- OPTT is a provider of comprehensive hybrid digital care plans augmented by AI for proactive triage and monitoring of patients to simplify the digital-first delivery of mental health services for care teams.
- Sesame Solar is a manufacturer of mobile, turnkey solar and green hydrogen nanogrids pre-engineered with solutions inside, and pre-configured for set-up by one person in less than 15 minutes.
- TIDY App is an online platform for booking insured and bonded professional cleaners for a home, Airbnb or office.
The cohort begins on February 15 operating in a hybrid environment, using online video platforms to facilitate the Lab curriculum and convening in-person to foster community. The entrepreneurs receive support from a dedicated Morgan Stanley team delivering tailored experiences to help each company grow. The program will run through July 2022, culminating in the seventh Multicultural Innovation Lab Showcase and Demo Day that will present the companies to potential investors.
The Lab has had five successful years with six cohorts and continues to expand in the sixth year with the goal of increasing access to capital for diverse entrepreneurs, which has proven successful as evidenced by resulting company acquisitions and additional funding rounds following participation in the program. Some notable examples include:
- Virtual-reality-based (VR) diversity and inclusion platform, Praxis Labs raised a $15.5 million Series A round in 2021 to continue advancing justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) in the workplace.
- During their time in the Lab, MedTrans Go closed a $1.5 million round to tackle the multibillion-dollar cost of missed medical appointments by offering practices safe and reliable medical transportation, interpretation, telemedicine and prescription delivery.
- In 2021, fintech platform Goalsetter raised $15 million to expand into the B2B market with children’s financial literacy app.
The Lab also launched a series of MCIL portfolio company profiles in partnership with The Plug to raise their visibility and drive attention to the market inefficiency when it comes to funding women and multicultural founders.
About the Multicultural Innovation Lab
The Multicultural Innovation Lab (MCIL) is an intensive five-month accelerator designed to help further develop and scale startups, culminating in a Demo Day and showcase presentation to the investor community. Morgan Stanley launched the MCIL in 2017 in order to address inequities in funding of multicultural and women-led startups, which our research shows equals over four trillion dollars in unrealized returns. The team is led by Managing Director and Head of Multicultural Client Strategy, Selma Bueno and Managing Director, Alice Vilma. Together, they have over 40 years of equity syndicate, investment banking, capital markets and structured finance experience.
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