Speedinvest Blog

SoftBank and Speedinvest Launch Emerge Accelerator for Underrepresented Founders

June 9, 2021


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"To drive innovation, building a level playing field for diverse European founders is no longer a want-to-have but a must. 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," says Speedinvest Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Oliver Holle.

SoftBank Vision Fund Emerge program launches first-ever cohort in Europe

SoftBank Investment Advisers (SoftBank) and Speedinvest launch the first-ever SoftBank Vision Fund Emerge accelerator in Europe. Emerge champions diversity in tech and entrepreneurship by connecting underrepresented founders with the tools, networks, mentorship and capital they need to scale their business. The program is open to European startups that have at least one founder who identifies as a woman, person of color, LGBTQ+ person, person with a disability and/or is a refugee. Founders can apply directly on the Emerge website: https://www.emergeaccelerator.com/

“As an industry, we’re missing out on the diverse perspectives that drive true innovation, because of a lack of representation,” said Catherine Lenson, Managing Partner and CHRO at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “Our first Emerge founder cohort showed the depth of untapped talent and inspired us to explore ways to do even more through the program. We are proud to be partnering with many of Europe’s most progressive investors and are excited to work with some of the region’s most visionary founders.”

The program and how to participate

Selected founders will participate in a customized 8-week program that provides access to SoftBank’s experienced operating professionals and portfolio companies, educational sessions, and dedicated mentoring. Founders will also be able to join a broad community of entrepreneurs and innovators with the opportunity to share experiences, as well as access the wider VC community.  Participants will also receive direct investment to support future growth.  

The launch builds on the success of the first Emerge cohort in the US in summer 2020, through which SoftBank invested $5 million across 13 startups. The 2021 program has expanded to convene a coalition of leading European VCs and seed-stage investors, united in a common mission to foster a more equitable tech ecosystem. In addition to Speedinvest, Emerge founders will have access to leading European investors, including Breega, Cherry Ventures, firstminute capital and Kindred. The program will be delivered in collaboration with WeWork Labs which will support the curriculum development. 

Applications are open now until July 7. The startups that make up the European cohort of Emerge will then be announced in mid-August and convene online starting in September. The program concludes with the startup showcase in October, when companies will pitch their businesses live to a group of top European investors.

Eligibility criteria:

  1. Seed stage start-up with a working product
  2. Using technology to disrupt a large or growing market
  3. Experiencing strong growth with early customer validation
  4. Business model has potential to scale
  5. At least one company founder identifies as a woman, person of color, LGBTQ+ person, person with a disability and/or is a refugee.

For more information about Emerge, or to apply to be a part of the program, visit the website: https://www.emergeaccelerator.com/ 

Speedinvest is a leading pan-European, early-stage venture capital firm. Our portfolio includes Wefox, Bitpanda, TIER Mobility, GoStudent, Curve, CoachHub, Schüttflix, TourRadar, Adverity, and Twaice. Sign up for our newsletters to get our exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

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