Morgan Stanley announced the eighth cohort of the Multicultural Innovation Lab. The in-house accelerator program for tech and tech-enabled startups in the post-seed to Series A funding round stage targets companies with multicultural or women founders, co-founders, CTOs or other C-suite members who are developing innovative solutions across sectors.
Now in its sixth year and with 69 total participating companies to date, the program is expanding globally for the first time, with participating companies in both the US and in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. From September 2022 to February 2023, the founders—the majority of whom are women and ethnically diverse—and their companies will participate in a customized accelerator program designed to enhance their growth and development.
What does the program mean for selected startups?
Chosen from over 2,500 applications, these leaders will benefit from the close support of Morgan Stanley’s ecosystem of internal and external partners, which will provide a variety of mentorship opportunities and business-growth resources. Through Multicultural Innovation Lab, Morgan Stanley also makes investments in these early-stage, high-growth startups.
Commenting on the funding, Managing Director and Head of the Multicultural Client Strategy Group, Selma Bueno said, “We are particularly excited to welcome our first global cohort, representing multicultural and women-led innovation in business around the world.”
“This new stage in MCIL’s development represents our continued efforts to create a more equitable investment landscape for women- and diverse-led startups and ensure that more overlooked entrepreneurs—and their communities—have the opportunity to succeed.”
What startups were chosen for the MCIL?
The companies that have been selected for the Fall 2022 cohort include the following:
- Advocat is a legal software platform developed to streamline the process of creating and operationalizing legal documents.
- AMAKA Studio is a digital media platform connecting a global community of women sharing Pan-African stories.
- AuditMate is a provider of SaaS-driven vertical transportation maintenance and contract management services. The solution helps property managers with contract analysis, maintenance completion reporting, compliance management and more.
- Gentreo is a software solution helping families and caregivers affordably and easily prepare, plan and protect all they love with next generation estate planning.
- Here Here Market is an online marketplace for food enthusiasts to discover and buy specialty products from ‘chef-prenuers’ and small-batch artisans.
- imagi is an education tech company leveraging proprietary coding education tools to equip girls with essential technology skills and confidence.
- Kami is an AI-powered family support platform providing personalized access to a wide range of wellness consultants, as well as an expertly curated and comprehensive range of guides, articles and tips.
- Perse is a single data technology platform leveraging energy and carbon data from all meters in Britain to report and optimize the energy and carbon footprint for individuals, households and businesses.
- Physician 360 transforms community pharmacies into healthcare clinics by empowering them with access to a virtual care platform.
- Wearisma is a global enterprise SaaS influencer analytics platform helping large-scale companies to optimize marketing spend and to achieve communication objectives.
The cohort will operate in a hybrid environment, using online video platforms and in-person events to facilitate the curriculum, enhance connectivity and foster community. The program will culminate in the eighth Multicultural Innovation Lab Showcase and Demo Day, when the 10 participating firms will present to potential investors, business partners and customers.
How effective is Multicultural Innovation Lab?
For the last two years, Multicultural Innovation Lab has been named one of the World’s Best Innovation Labs by Global Finance Magazine. The Lab continues to successfully increase access to capital for diverse entrepreneurs, as evidenced by resulting firm acquisitions and additional funding rounds following participation in the program. Some examples include:
- Relationship intelligence platform Stimulus raised a $2.5 million seed round to grow partnerships and expand the team with engineering, data science and sales talent.
- Lillii RNB, an AI-powered fraud prevention and investigation SaaS solution for retailers, raised a $3 million seed round from co-leads Serena Ventures and Aperture Venture Capital to capitalize on sales opportunities and grow its partnership network.
- Event management software platform Five to Nine raised a $4.25 million seed round to expand its engineering capability, accelerate product development and grow the team.