Softbank seeks start-ups with a diversity background

The Group is launching its Emerge Accelerator in Europe. It is looking for women, POC, LGBTQ+, as well as people with disabilities and refugees.

Japanese conglomerate Softbank and Austrian VC Speedinvest are jointly launching an eight-week accelerator for European tech startups. Only diverse teams are being addressed. At least one founder from the startup must identify as a woman, person of color, LGBTQ+, person with disabilities, or a refugee. "As an industry, we are missing out on the diverse perspectives that drive real innovation due to a lack of representation," said Catherine Lenson, Managing Partner at Softbank Investment Advisers. "Our first Emerge Founders cohort showed us how much untapped talent there is and inspired us to explore ways we can do more through the program."

Softbank had already launched a similar program in the US last year. There, the bank invested five million US dollars in 13 start-ups. In addition to Speedinvest, the three London VCs Breega, Firstminute Capital and Kindred, as well as Berlin-based Cherry Ventures are also involved in the European program. New York-based startup platform Wework Labs is assisting with education and training.

"In order to drive innovation, creating a level playing field for different European founders is no longer just a wish, but a must," says Speedinvest co-founder Oliver Holle. "This program embodies exactly what we love to do - support the best early-stage European founders, regardless of their background, and make a real impact on their entrepreneurial journey."

Startups eligible for seed funding can apply until July 7 on the Emerge Accelerator website. Emerge will then announce which startups will be supported in mid-August. The Accelerator starts in September and the program ends with a start-up showcase in October, where the founders have to pitch their companies in front of a group of top European investors.

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Investor 2012 Berlin Cherry Ventures Early-stage VC investor supporting European founders, usually as their first institutional investor.

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