Morgan Stanley has revealed that it is opening an innovation lab as it seeks to spot tech talent and support startups led by women, people of colour and any other minorities.
The lab in New York will enable the bank to evaluate emerging technologies and apply them to enhance its products, services and internal processes. It will also further strengthen the bank’s ability to innovate, while deepening its relationships with start-ups.
According to an application form seen by the Financial Times: “Any start-up with seed funding can apply, as long as they have a “multicultural” or female founder, chief technology officer or other member of the C-suite.”
The early-stage start-ups will pitch their ideas within a four-month program that begins next month, which will be followed by a symposium to introduce those with the most promising ideas to potential investors.
As part of this partnership model, the Wall Street bank will fund successful applicants with $200,000 in investment, either in the form of equity or convertible notes.
The bank will be looking at disruptive solutions in technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics, healthcare and advanced manufacturing. As such, Morgan’s initiative goes a step beyond the investments all the big banks have been making in fintech, which mostly come at later stages.
With digital solutions growing fast globally, banks are working more closely with the startup ecosystem to get hold of the solutions of the future. British banking giant Barclays recently opened a similar accelerator in Mumbai. Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase already have dedicated teams serving the banking needs of such new-age companies.
Alice Vilma, executive director of the bank’s multicultural client strategy committee, commented: “We’ve seen a lot of the rhetoric around the gap between the ability to access capital for multicultural entrepreneurs and women, especially outside of Silicon Valley. If companies are scalable, bankable and investable, and if the only thing they lack is access to capital and networks, we’ll provide that, with early-stage growth capital.”