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].
Atlanta-Based Innovation Partnership Expands
Creating inclusive cities can start with simply putting in the work, says Debra Lam, the founding executive director of Partnership for Inclusive Innovation in Atlanta, Georgia, a statewide, public-private partnership working to support and fund innovators in the state.
The partnership started as an innovation task force that was put together by Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor, Geoff Duncan, at the start of 2020 to provide recommendations on how to make Georgia the technology capital of the East Coast.
The partnership emerged from those discussions. Lam describes it as a mix between a foundation and an angel investor — it casts a wide net. It aims to provide more than $1 million in grants to innovators and groups supporting founders in Georgia each year.
The presence of underrepresented founders is seen as key to the state’s success.
“That kind of co-creation, I think, makes the research better, because you get the community to validate, and hopefully give feedback on the research, but then you have the community benefiting from that as well, with that kind of innovation collaboration. So it’s actually empowering the community to innovate.”
The partnership funded its first project in December — theClubhou.se in Augusta, an accelerator with funding from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Wells Fargo, to implement an entrepreneurship training certification program for historically underrepresented entrepreneurs. The partnership provided $250,000 to the group so it can expand its program beyond Augusta into four other Georgia cities. The other cities haven’t been decided yet, she said.
“Suddenly, you have five different local innovation hubs, each providing entrepreneurship and training for that local entrepreneur or scene, and with that scale, you can suddenly create thousands of new entrepreneurs and that program can generate about a million dollars in self- sustaining, annual revenue,” Lam said.
Other cities can become more inclusive by taking similar steps — define an agenda, assign the roles and commit resources, she said. But those don’t have to be merely financial ones — bringing sweat equity is just as important as fiscal resources, she said. “Everyone has different expertise, and levels and types of resources.”
U of Chicago Launches Accelerator Focused on Quantum Startups
The University of Chicago’s Polsky Center has announced the launch of an accelerator for startups focused on quantum research, according to a university press release. The program, called Duality, will be led by the center and the university’s Chicago Quantum Exchange. Other founding partners include the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Argonne National Library and P33, a Chicago technology incubator. It will invest a minimum of $20 million over the next 10 years, according to the release. Duality will take on 10 startups per year and help them grow their business in the city. Applications for its first cohort are live and due May 14.
What kinds of applications are there for quantum research? Times of E recently covered a company using quantum dots to make transparent windows hold solar power.
Indie.vc’s Possible Future
Co-founder Bryce Roberts wrote a series of blog posts last month breaking down the end of Indie.vc, which funded bootstrapped businesses that were focused on their business fundamentals, rather than those that focused on raising money at increasingly higher valuations.
The fund, which was started out of San Francisco-based O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures six years ago, was a rare attempt to innovate venture capital itself, which most founders do not have access to. But the fund ran into roadblocks that caused it to stop at just that– an experiment.
Despite the companies in its portfolio having a lower mortality rate than the average VC’s and impressive key metrics, when it came down to it, it couldn’t raise the capital it needed to from institutional investors.
Turns out when capital is abundant and everything is up and to the right, the way to manage ownership and optionality in the minds of many is simply raising more money at increasingly higher valuations. As I shared this frustration with a friend and LP, they replied “you’re playing a value hand in a growth game.”
“I tried to play by a different set of rules and got burned,” Roberts wrote in a March 3 blog post on Medium.
In his most recent post, published on March 26 on Medium, Roberts outlines the ideas he believes Indie.vc got right — the aspects he believes will be part of startup investing of the future. The obvious ones, he writes, are open applications and funding diverse founders. Others, he writes, include:
- Funds that are adaptable to circumstance and founders: “In the inevitable future, ephemerally adapting to opportunity will eat legacy’s lunch,” he writes.
- Greater equity opportunity, or Equity 2.0, as he puts it
- Communities evolving into economies, which he said Indie’s scout program exemplified: “Our Scout program completely rewired my brain around how to activate and incentivize a community. It is/was one of the crown jewels of Indie.vc.”
“OATV will continue (we’re holding a first close on Fund V today) and Indie will find a way to continue as well,” he wrote on March 3. “Whether we see a thousand ‘Indies’ bloom or whether we bring back a 2.0 version down the road, it’s in my DNA and will undoubtedly find new and unexpected ways to express itself in any of the work I do from here on out.”
Names to Know
Nicole Walker is the new managing partner of Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Arboretum Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on health care innovation which raised a fifth fund of $250 million in 2019, according to a news release. Previously, Walker was a managing partner at Chicago-based Baird Capital. She sits on many boards, including those of the National Venture Capital Association and Alzheimer’s Association.
James Hilton is the new senior director of entrepreneurial services at Bounce Innovation Hub, an Akron, Ohio-based hub for entrepreneurs, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Hilton has been at the hub since its inception in 2018, and has been the startup director and the head of its software accelerator, according to the article. He is also the co-founder and managing director of software development company Wonderkiln and an adviser for the University of Akron Research Foundation’s STRIDE Accelerator.
MIT Opens Applications For Five Challenges with More Than $20 Million of Prizes
More than $20 million is available across nine challenges through Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Solve, according to its newsletter. Applications are open for:
- The Trinity Challenge, which is seeking solutions to the question: How can data and analytics be used to better identify, respond to, and recover from global health emergencies? The winning applicant will receive up to 2 million Euros and each team selected after that will receive up to 1 million Euros. Applications are due April 15.
- The Elevate Prize Foundation, which will award a $5 million prize to 10 leaders “who are tackling the most critical issues of our times.” This year’s program is open to executive directors, founders and CEOs of nonprofits. Applications are due May 5.
- US Indigenous Communities Fellowship, which will provide $10,000 to U.S. native innovators to tackle social, environmental and economic goals of their communities. Applications are due June 1.
- MIT Solve’s Five Global Challenges, which is asking entrepreneurs to submit solutions for one of these five questions:
- How can everyone have access to the digital economy?
- How can all young learners have access to quality, safe, and equitable learning environments?
- How can communities sustainably protect, manage, and restore their local ecosystems?
- How can communities prepare for, detect, and respond to emerging pandemics and health security threats?
- How can communities of color use technology to advance racial equity and access economic opportunity, health, and safety?
Up to $1.5 million in funding is available to selected entrepreneurs. Applications are due June 15.
- The Horizon Prize, which will provide $150,000 to two teams of entrepreneurs finding technology solutions to aid people with rare diseases with better access to care. Applications are due June 18.
Chicago New Pattern Is Offering $10K to Up To Five Black or Latinx Entrepreneurs
New Pattern, a new program that provides funding and mentorship to Black and Latinx founders, recently launched in Chicago, according to its website. The initiative was started through Salt Lake City-based fund Beta Boom in Utah last summer, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. This spring it expanded to Chicago, where Beta Boom also has a large presence, and will grant up to $10,000 to four or five entrepreneurs based in the West or South Sides of the city. The grants are funded by its partner, the Melinda Gates’ GET Cities program. In order to apply for the grant, founders must pitch their startup at a Tech Rise competition hosted by P33 Chicago, an organization that has also partnered with Beta Boom for this initiative. May competition applications are due April 15.
Baltimore Accelerator Seeks To Help Home-Based Entrepreneurs Scale Up
Made in Baltimore, a Maryland group that supports manufacturers and makers in the city, is seeking entrepreneurs home-based entrepreneurs for its accelerator, which will help up to 12 founders scale their businesses into commercial spaces, according to its website. The five-month program will provide a curriculum taught by small business consulting firm, Twilight Quest, and pair entrepreneurs with mentors. At the end of the program, selected entrepreneurs will receive $5,000- $10,000 in seed capital. Applications are due April 18.
Echoing Green Seeks Fellows To Work on Social Change
Echoing Green, a New York City-based group investing in social entrepreneurs, is accepting applications for its fellowship programs. It’s looking for leaders with social change ideas in climate, education, health, human rights, poverty and racial justice. Fellows receive a stipend of $80,000 over 18 months as well as mentorship and resources to develop their social impact solution. Applications are due April 20.
Outside the US
$8 Million for Tourism in Québec
Québec’s government is funding $8 million to create an incubator-accelerator focused on stimulating tourism north of the 49th parallel, according to a news release. The program aims to support entrepreneurs’ tourism projects. It’s a partnership between the Québec Outfitters Federation, Indeigenous Tourism Québec and Aventur Écotourisme Québec. The groups plan to partner with northern Quebec partners such as regional tourism associations and Indeigenous communities.
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