Morgan Stanley showing how multicultural entrepreneurial initiatives can flourish

EDA has partnered with financial firm’s MCIL through its NJ Accelerate program

Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, an in-house startup accelerator that promotes financial inclusion and provides access to capital for early stage technology and tech-enabled companies led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs, continues to be an overwhelming success.

The program, which started in 2017 and recently graduated its fifth cohort, has a portfolio of 51 participating companies that reach over $450 million in combined valuation and have raised more than $80 million in additional funding after completing the program.

This success is just one of the reasons it was the first accelerator accepted into the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s NJ Accelerate program.

About NJ Accelerate

The NJ Accelerate program, which aims to increase the number of young companies in the state, encourages New Jersey entrepreneurs to participate in high-quality accelerator programs. It is designed to mitigate the many obstacles early stage entrepreneurs often face when starting out.

NJ Accelerate, which launched in 2020, incentivizes accelerators from around the country to recruit participants in New Jersey. It also incentivizes the startups to locate in the Garden State after graduating from approved accelerators.

Through NJ Accelerate, the EDA matches investments provided by approved accelerators with up to $250,000 in direct loans for startups that locate in New Jersey within six months after graduating from the approved programs. A 5% bonus is available for companies that are certified as women-or minority-owned.

The EDA will also provide rent support for up to six months if a company locates in an approved NJ Ignite collaborative workspace.

Tim Sullivan, the CEO of the EDA, is thrilled to support the MCIL, saying its focus is aligned with New Jersey’s goals.

“As we continue to advance initiatives that increase access to capital for diverse entrepreneurs in New Jersey, we take a moment to applaud the success of Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, which provides the support businesses need to grow and scale in their respective areas,” he said.

“The tools, resources and connections provided by the MCIL and the NJEDA have proven to be essential for these startup companies who are developing innovative solutions across different sectors of our economy, bringing hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars into the state and serving as a testament to Gov. Phil Murphy’s strategy for building a stronger, fairer New Jersey.”

About the MCIL

Created in 2017, the Multicultural Innovation Lab aims to drive positive economic outcomes for multicultural and women-led companies in the post-seed to Series B funding rounds by providing content, visibility, technical support and connectivity with important stakeholders who can accelerate the growth of participants’ businesses.

Through the lab, Morgan Stanley makes investments in early stage, high-growth companies, committing to support each founder’s growth and development through its network of internal and external partners.

MCIL officials said the lab’s curriculum is tailored to suit each individual cohort, but it generally includes such topics as branding a startup, developing an investor pitch, refining a company’s value proposition and devising effective finance and sales strategies. In addition, Morgan Stanley offers participants the opportunity to meet with industry experts for one-on-one consultations, as it pairs each startup company with a mentor chosen specifically for their relevant expertise. The mentor communicates with the participant on a regular basis and provides advice and counsel on company growth and scaling of the business.

Alice Vilma, managing director and co-head of the MCIL, said she is eager to work with the EDA on the initiative.

“Morgan Stanley is proud to invest in talented entrepreneurs who make a commendable effort to grow and develop their companies through the Morgan Stanley platform,” she said. “As we continue to work with the NJEDA to address existing inequities in funding of multicultural and women-led startups, we’re thrilled to keep providing these companies access to our global networks and resources to help bring their businesses to scale.”

The MCIL already has begun its next cohort — but it still is looking for more companies to join the initiative in 2022. (Apply here; the deadline is Sept. 16.)