The University of Missouri-St. Louis’ entrepreneurship program, UMSL Accelerate, announced the launch Tuesday of a new business accelerator aimed at supporting founders of emerging companies who come from underrepresented backgrounds and marginalized communities.
Called the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Accelerator, the application-based initiative is open to founders of early stage startup companies that “positively impact underserved communities,” organizers said. Selected winners will receive $50,000 in funding, plus other benefits, such as inclusion in an eight-week business development program.
At least to start, six winners will be chosen to enter the program. The application period is open until Oct. 26.
“The program team expects to attract many of the area’s brightest early-stage entrepreneurs and actively encourages diverse founders to apply regardless of socioeconomic background, education level, race, ethnicity, age, gender, immigration status, or lived experience,” according to the university.
The new initiative is sponsored by locally based companies Ameren, Edward Jones and Express Scripts, in addition to private donors.
UMSL has been involved with a range of accelerator programs throughout recent years, including ones dedicated to foreign entrepreneurs and innovation in the energy industry. Participating companies have provided paid internship opportunities — and even chances to earn course credit — for UMSL students.