Welcome to The Hub, your spot for ecosystem and accelerator news. In this news roundup, we provide you with the latest on organizations working to support, educate and fund innovators and their ideas. We’ll highlight cohort applications, people to know in the incubator world and programs working to give resources to those who typically don’t have access elsewhere. As always, we’re focused on underrepresented entrepreneurs — such as women, people of color, and those geographically outside power centers — and organizations supporting these demographics.
If you have a piece of news or a job listing you think will fit into this roundup, email it to Skyler Rossi at [email protected].
Heartland Poised To ‘Regain Its Place in an Ever More Diverse America’
Immigrant population in the Heartland is growing at rates faster than some large cities such as New York and San Francisco, signaling cities in the region are blossoming into hubs for new Americans, according to a new report from Heartland Forward, a Bentonville, Arkansas think tank working to improve economic performance in the middle of the United States.
“For too long, essentially since the 1970s, the Heartland, with the notable exception of Texas, was on the sidelines in the nation’s demographic transition, leaving a large part of the country facing much slower population growth and rapid aging,” the report’s authors write. “It is on the sidelines no longer.”
It’s likely because the region offers a lifestyle large cities often can’t, such as lower costs, easier access to schools and economic growth potential, the report states. One “underrated” plus is the region’s friendliness. “For people who have migrated great distances, and sometimes at personal risk, the reception in the Heartland—sometimes described as a hotbed of nativist and xenophobic attitudes—often instead has been both warm and inspiring,” according to the report.
The fastest growth in foreign-born population among the U.S.’ largest metropolitan areas over the past decade was over 40 percent, in Louisville, Columbus and Nashville, according to an analysis written for Heartland Forward by demographer Wendell Cox. Also, foreign-born increases exceeded 25 percent in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis.
Immigrants are often key to companies looking to hire, the report states. Plus, many business communities embrace immigration as critical to their success. “Immigrants are the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ when it comes to recognizing opportunity,” the report notes. Perhaps the revival of the Heartland may be the key to bringing the country together.
“The Heartland has an opportunity to meld new energy and a spirit of enterprise among the newcomers with the Heartland’s fundamental values,” according to the report. “Like the mostly European immigrants who created many of the region’s communities, the newcomers seem ready to add their uniqueness to communities that, in some cases, only now are emerging from decades of demographic and economic decline. It is a new future that beckons one possessing great potential for the middle of our country.”
Amazon, Coke Reps Join GS1 U.S. Board, Which Does Not Include A Single Small Business
Brad Spickert, the senior vice president of supply chain at The Coca-Cola Company’s North America Operating Unit and Sam Heyworth, vice president of consumables at Amazon, are the latest to join the U.S. board of directors for GS1, an industry group that has developed global standards for barcodes. The men join other representatives from large companies such as eBay, Johnson & Johnson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Walmart.
Missing from the board: a small business representative. The group’s website states that it helps more than 280,000 small businesses.
“We help improve identifying, capturing, and sharing your product information. Through GS1 Standards and leveraging GS1 US’ experience, we can help you run your business with greater efficiency, enhance product safety, and much more.”
Last November, the group shifted its pay structure to make it possible for small businesses to purchase a single GS1 US Global Trade Item Number for $30, instead of purchasing a package of ten for $250, the previous smallest option, said Kaitlin Friedmann, a representative for the group.
Singapore’s Startup Story
Singapore’s push to support innovation and startups directly has made it one of the “most developed ecosystems by global standards,” according to a report from the World Bank.
The country decided to shift its economic policy focus from being competitive in lower cost manufacturing services to global technology industries following a recession in 1985, the report outlines. Now, it’s a leader in Southeast Asia, and sports 184 accelerators, incubators and other similar groups and 36,000 tech startups, according to the report.
Among other characteristics, the country has strong government leadership, which is agile in reacting to market changes, a strong university system, which the government has aimed to connect to startups, and a laser focus on globalization. These are some of the key takeaways policymakers can learn from the country, according to the report.
Still, the authors note that the government’s heavy involvement could be creating an atmosphere too dependent on the public sector. “Too much government funding may be propping up foundering companies that should in fact cease operations, while also not effectively incentivizing private investors to engage with startups and in general helping to build a market-driven ecosystem,” they write.
Also, the report points out that Singapore’s female representation lags behind other hubs, and the ecosystem’s female population is slightly lower than the average. “It arguably has an opportunity as well to take a leadership role in supporting both current and aspiring women entrepreneurs that others can emulate,” the report notes.
Public Sustainability Declarations Don’t Match Private Boardroom Convos: Report
U.S. energy leaders say what companies are doing behind closed doors does not align with the sustainability image they’re portraying to the public, according to a report sponsored by Cognite, an industrial SaaS company, in partnership with Axios Studios and The Harris Poll. The group surveyed 500 U.S. energy leaders and found 75% of them believed this to be true.
A majority of leaders believe that the initiatives are mostly talk. Three-in-four agreed that companies aren’t actually willing to pay the costs it takes to be sustainable despite saying they want to do so.
Still, a majority of leaders believe the energy industry can reach net-zero carbon by 2050. Most think technology and renewables are the most valuable innovations worth investing in as an immediate solution to sustainability.
EnrichHER accelerator seeks applicants for its 2021 program
EnrichHER, an Atlanta-based platform that connects women and people of color founders to capital, has opened applications for its business financing accelerator program, according to a news release. Selected entrepreneurs will complete a five-week course and receive access to loans, grant applications and potential venture capital. The program also matches entrepreneurs with funders that align with their goals, according to its website. Companies at any stage are eligible to apply. Applications are due June 8.
UPenn Accelerator Looks For Eco-Focused Startups For Summer Cohort
The University of Pennsylvania is seeking startups focused on improving the environment for its summer 2021 Pennovation accelerator, according to its website. Entrepreneurs based in Philadelphia are eligible to apply. Up to 10 selected founders will participate in a six-week program, which includes a course, a mentor and networking. At the end of the program, there will be a pitch day, when companies in the cohort will pitch to mentors, investors and peers, according to the website. Applications are due June 2 at 5 pm, an extended deadline.
Africa’s Business Prize Seeks 100 African Entrepreneurs
Applications are open for the 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition, a program to recognize Africa’s entrepreneurs, run by the Jack Ma Foundation, according to a news release. Any entrepreneur based anywhere in Africa is eligible to apply, and can do so in French or English. The program, which is sponsored by Cairo, Egypt-based entrepreneur network RiseUp, will recognize 100 entrepreneurs and allocate funds, training and mentorship over 10 years. Ten selected entrepreneurs will compete at the end of the year to win part of a $1.5 million grant, according to the release. Applications are live on its website.
An incubator for restaurant owners in Cape Town
V&A Waterfront, a neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa, is looking for restaurant owners who have been in operation for six months to three years for its incubator program, according to its website. The incubator program, which costs just about $108 (R1,500), consists of a business fundamentals course, access to commercial kitchen space, and additional training. The 4.5 month program starts in August. Applications are due June 30.
About $13.2 million for Egyptian early-stage startups
Cairo, Egypt-based Flat6Labs has raised an about $13.2 million (EGP207 million) fund to support Egyptian early-stage startups, according to a news release. The fund, which was launched in 2017 to invest in more than 100 startups over 5 years. Investors of the fund include the International Finance Corporation, the MSME Development Agency and Sawari Ventures. Applications for the seed program are live on Flat6Labs’ website.