New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Newlab unveiled the eight companies selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of the Founder Fellowship program. This initiative will provide urban tech startup founders from underrepresented backgrounds with the resources to build and scale their companies in NYC.
The program builds upon the Urbantech NYC partnership between NYCEDC and Newlab and was developed in partnership with NYCEDC’s Venture Access NYC Initiative. The companies will benefit from access to Newlab’s 84,000 square foot space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, its vast member community and extended global network, and on-site product realization resources. The program includes 12 months of curated programming, introductions to strategic partners, collaborators, investors, office hours with subject matter experts, dedicated pitch feedback sessions, and mentorship opportunities.
"New York City is the global epicenter of innovation—a testament to our City's bold and creative entrepreneurs," said NYCEDC Chief Strategy Officer Lindsay Greene. "As the City's vibrant urban tech ecosystem continues to rapidly grow, it's of the utmost importance that we ensure innovators from diverse backgrounds are able to fully participate in and benefit from the opportunities available. By providing founders from underrepresented backgrounds with the support they need to actualize their potential, Founder Fellowship is a key step toward creating a more diverse tech community and a smarter, more sustainable New York City."
“Innovative entrepreneurship is the backbone of New York City’s diverse economy. This is an incredible first step to level the playing field for traditionally underrepresented founders in the tech industry,” said Maria Torres-Springer, New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic & Workforce Development. “I am inspired by the ingenuity of the chosen cohort. The Founder Fellowship will go a long way toward shaping a more inclusive economy by leveraging New York City’s access to talent, resources, and ideas to solve complex, urban problems.”
"This announcement marks yet another milestone in our longstanding partnership with the NYCEDC, which over the last five years has focused on working with entrepreneurs who are applying technology to help create a more resilient, sustainable and equitable future for New York City, " said Shaina Horowitz, VP of Product & Programs at Newlab. "The entrepreneurs selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of Founder Fellowship are a group of incredibly talented, visionary innovators, and we are excited to work with, learn from, and support them as they build and grow their businesses at Newlab."
Through Venture Access NYC, NYCEDC is aiming to build a more inclusive tech startup ecosystem in New York City by bringing together investors, founders, and industry leaders. Founder Fellowship, the first Venture Access program in partnership with Newlab, is helping make the City’s technology ecosystem more equitable and inclusive by increasing access for founders of underrepresented backgrounds across race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, thought, culture, and economic experience, to the resources needed to grow their businesses locally.
The following eight companies were selected from a competitive pool of 70 applicants through a rigorous review process that included input from NYCEDC, Tech:NYC, Black Entrepreneurs NYC and Newlab. All of the companies are pre-seed or seed stage, and span various urban tech focus areas including clean energy, mobility, wearables, and proptech.
NYCEDC and Newlab’s Urbantech NYC partnership launched more than five years ago to support the City’s vision for a sustainable, equitable future. Last Fall, the partners announced the launch of the Resilient Energy Studio, a program to advance energy storage capacity across NYC through entrepreneur-led pilot projects with industry leaders, innovators and community organizations; and the expansion of the HE3AT program, initially launched in 2019, which creates opportunities for public high school students from diverse backgrounds and underserved communities to become part of the technology, innovation, and sustainability ecosystem in NY through entrepreneurship, mentorship, and project-based learning.
The Founder Fellowship program is the latest Newlab initiative that aims to drive diversity, equity and inclusion in the technology industry, following the Innovator Spotlight initiative, a partnership with Bank of America launched in 2021 to support underrepresented entrepreneurs with the power to apply transformative technology to things that matter.
Technology startups led by entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented groups face significant obstacles that threaten to leave them out of the startup economy. Funding to underrepresented founders has increased in recent years, but still represents a fraction of the $329.5 billion in funding raised by U.S. startups in 2021. Nationally, startups led by Black and Latinx founders generally receive less than 3 percent of total venture capital raised (in the Greater New York area, Black and Latinx founders receive around 5 percent of total venture funding in the region). In 2021, startups led solely by women founders received about 2 percent of funding.
New York City Economic Development Corporation is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that creates shared prosperity across New York City by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. We work with and for communities to bring emerging industries to New York City; develop spaces and facilities for businesses; empower New Yorkers through training and skill-building; and invest in sustainable and innovative projects that make the city a great place to live and work. Venture Access NYC is an NYCEDC initiative that aims to build a more inclusive tech startup ecosystem in New York City by bringing together investors, founders, and industry leaders. To learn more about what we do, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Newlab is a community of experts and innovators applying transformative technology to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Newlab membership and studios bring together entrepreneurs, engineers, inventors and industry leaders to create sustainable solutions and enterprises. Newlab employs technologies including robotics, AI and material science to transform what matters most—health, environment, media, cities, and infrastructure.