The European investment fund Speedinvest and the investment fund SoftBank Investment Advisers have announced the launch of the second edition of the Emerge accelerator program. The objective is to promote entrepreneurs and start-ups with a diversity background in the technology sector. The initiative will provide these entities with tools and financial support to develop in their chosen field. They will also have the opportunity to interact with the network of VC partners of the initiative.
The establishment of a more inclusive ecosystem adapted to start-ups
In the summer of 2020, SoftBank invested nearly $5 million in 13 startups in the first Emerge program launched in the United States. Aquagenuity, Bridge to College, Caldo, GameJolt, Koniku, Mogul, Moment AI, Oja Express, Proven, Rebellyous Foods, Script Health, Shyft and SPS are the companies that benefited from this financial aid for their development. Catherine Lenson, Managing Partner and CHRO at SoftBank Investment Advisers, returned to this first promotion of start-ups:
“Due to a lack of representation and diversity within the technology sectors, we are missing out on development perspectives and opportunities that are nevertheless driving innovation. The first class of Emerge founders has shown us the breadth of untapped talent and has inspired us to explore ways to do even more through the program. We are proud to partner with Europe’s most innovative investors and are excited to work with some of Europe’s most visionary founders.”
For 2021, the program has expanded to bring together several influential European VC partners who specialize in startups to foster a more inclusive technology ecosystem. These include Cherry Ventures, Breega, FirstMinute Capital and Kindred who will work alongside Speedinvest and SoftBank Investement Advisers.
Oliver Holle, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Speedinvest, spoke around building the right ecosystem:
“To drive innovation, building a more inclusive ecosystem is a necessity today. We are excited to be working with SoftBank on the Emerge initiative. This program is in line with our values: to support Europe’s best seed-stage founders, regardless of their origin, in order to accompany them on their entrepreneurial journey.”
An acceleration programme for start-ups and entrepreneurs
Lasting eight weeks, the Emerge programme will connect selected start-ups with SoftBank’s network of professionals made up of business experts and other founders in the investment fund’s portfolio. They will be financed by the program and will be able to rely on tools that will help them develop their structure. The accelerator also includes workshops and a mentoring program.
The program will be delivered in collaboration with WeWork Labs. Thijs Sprangers, head of WeWork Labs, Europe, said of his company’s presence, which specialises in providing Coworking space and services:
“WeWork has always been a place of reference for entrepreneurs and we know that the right tools and network can contribute to their success. We’re excited to bring our expertise to Emerge by creating a customized educational program and resources that help underrepresented founders sharpen the skills they need to succeed.”
The program is open to entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds in tech, who can already apply via the Emerge site until July 7, 2021. In order to participate, five eligibility criteria must be met:
- Be a seed-stage start-up with a working product or service.
- Prove to have an innovative technology in a fast growing market.
- Be in a sustained growth phase with early user feedback.
- Have a scalable business model.
- At least one of the founders must meet the diversity criteria of the program which are detailed on the Emerge website, available here. This same website will allow you to submit your application.
Participating startups will be announced in mid-July and will meet in digital from mid-August. In October, the program will end with a pitching session where the start-ups will have to convince a group of European investors specialized in seed capital.