SoftBank has launched the SoftBank Vision Fund Emerge accelerator in Europe with the goal of connecting underrepresented entrepreneurs with capital, tools, and networks to help them scale. The programme is open to European startups that have at least one founder who identifies as non-white, female, LGBTQ+, disabled and/or is a refugee.
Applicants selected to participate in the programme will enter an 8-week accelerator that provides access to seasoned operating executives and portfolio companies that will provide mentorship and educational sessions. Additionally, Emerge participants will receive direct investment to further fuel their ambitions.
The European version of the Emerge programme builds on the success of a US operative that ran over the summer of 2020 and saw $5 million in 13 startups. The 2021 version will now include a coalition of European VCs and seed-stage investors including Speedinvest, Breega, Cherry Ventures, firstminute capital and Kindred. WeWork Labs is also on board and will support curriculum development.
“To drive innovation, building a level playing field for diverse European founders is no longer a want-to-have but a must,” says Speedinvest’s Oliver Holle. “At Speedinvest, we could not be more excited to partner up with SoftBank on Emerge as this program truly embodies what we love to do - to help support Europe’s very best early-stage founders, no matter their background, and truly make a difference in their entrepreneurial journeys.”
Applications to join the programme are now open, and applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Seed stage start-up with a working product
- Using technology to disrupt a large or growing market
- Experiencing strong growth with early customer validation
- Business model has potential to scale
- At least one company founder identifies as non- white, female, LGBTQ, disabled and/or is a refugee.
Startups that make the grade will be announced in mid-August, with sessions commencing in September. The programme will conclude with a showcase day where companies will have the opportunity to pitch to a group of top European investors.