Tech Transfer eNews Blog

U of Missouri-St. Louis launches accelerator to support underrepresented entrepreneurs

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 14th, 2020

The University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) has launched a new accelerator to support underrepresented start-up founders.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Accelerator is designed to boost early-stage, scalable, for-profit companies that directly and positively impact marginalized communities. It includes an eight-week business development program through which entrepreneurs from these communities receive access to mentors, paid interns, workspace, and $50,000 in non-dilutive funding to help launch their start-ups.

“St. Louis is home to an abundance of entrepreneurial talent with good ideas, but not everyone has the same access to opportunity,” says Dan Lauer, executive director of UMSL Accelerate. “We are doing our part in moving the needle through significant capital injection.”

Six founders will be accepted in the first round, which will conclude in March 2021 with a demo day, allowing the start-ups to showcase their business to community members, potential investors, and UMSL students and faculty.

“This accelerator was born out of a shared vision for a regional start-up ecosystem where all entrepreneurs have equal access to growing their businesses,” says Monique Bynum, managing director of the DEI Accelerator. “The founders’ success will have a lasting impact on their communities for decades to come.”

The program is funded through sponsorships from Ameren, Edward Jones, Express Scripts and several private donors. Kristin Sobolik, chancellor of UMSL, comments, “We are excited to join three outstanding like-minded corporate partners in launching this first-of-its-kind effort to support the growth of minority-owned businesses. This demonstrates that, to us, inclusive prosperity should be and must be the foundation upon which St. Louis rests its economic future.”

Source: UMSL Daily

Now available on-demand and on DVD: Empowering and Supporting Women and Underserved Populations in University Innovation and EntrepreneurshipClick here for details.

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