Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) announced today the expansion of its Multicultural Innovation Lab (the “Lab”), an accelerator programme that targets companies with women or ethnic-minority founders that have the potential to develop innovative technology solutions that promote a more inclusive and sustainable future.
The Lab will begin operating across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) from the beginning of 2022, and is designed to run in parallel and enhance the global initiative launched in the U.S. in 2017. Morgan Stanley is targeting an inaugural EMEA Lab cohort of five startups and has earmarked investments of £200,000 in each, representing a total commitment of £1 million for the inaugural year of the planned multi-year programme.
Research shows that ethnic minority and female founders face persistent disparities in business outcomes, with systemic disadvantages, such as differences in access to capital, playing a key role. Over the last ten years, less than 3% of the venture capital funds invested in UK went to teams of all-female founders and less than 2% to teams of all-ethnic minority founders.
The Multicultural Innovation Lab aims to offer redress to that situation by not only making investments in early-stage, high-growth companies, but also supporting the growth and development needs of these businesses through a unique ecosystem involving Morgan Stanley mentors and advisers as well as external industry experts. Each Lab is expected to run over a five-month period, culminating in a Demo Day, during which all participants can present to a network of investors who could help provide capital and cultivate strategic partnerships to accelerate development and transform the growth trajectory of their business .
“Establishing a platform in London giving access to critical advice, experience and funding to women- and minority-owned enterprises is not only something we are well-positioned to offer, but also allows us to address a significant market inefficiency,” said Clare Woodman, Morgan Stanley’s Head of EMEA and co-sponsor of the EMEA Lab.
“We are excited to launch the lab in EMEA. Morgan Stanley is a leading provider of access to capital globally, and we believe we are uniquely positioned to help women- and minority-owned businesses reach a much more equitable slice of the funding pie,” added David Cantillon, Head of EMEA Equities and co-sponsor of the EMEA Lab.
Since it was launched in the U.S. in 2017, more than 50 startups have participated in the accelerator programme and have since gone on to raise over $80 million in additional funding.
The global team is led by Morgan Stanley Vice Chairman and Managing Director Carla Harris and Managing Director Alice Vilma. Together, they have over 50 years of equity syndicate, investment banking, capital markets and structured finance experience.
Sanghamitra Karra, Managing Director of the EMEA Lab said: “The U.S. experience has been inspirational in demonstrating the available talent pool of women and minority entrepreneurs and the critical importance of dedicated growth capital and access to strategic advice and mentorship.”
The EMEA Lab will begin taking participant applications from January 2022, with the first cohort of five startups starting the accelerator programme from August in Morgan Stanley’s EMEA headquarters in Canary Wharf, London.
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