As London Tech Week kicks off, Google for Startups announces the 10 UK-based startups selected for this year’s $4million (approx. £3.3million) Black Founders Fund.
The Black Founders Fund, now in its third year, aims to help tackle systemic racial inequality in venture capital (VC) funding by providing equity-free grants and mentoring to early stage Black-led high-growth businesses across Europe and Africa. Prior to the fund’s launch in 2021, less than 0.25% of VC funding went to Black-led startups in the UK.
A quarter of the 40 startups that have been carefully selected to take part in this year’s programme are UK-based – more than any other country in Europe and Africa – a testament to the UK’s bustling startup ecosystem and the future potential of the country’s tech sector. The funding will provide the businesses with the capital needed to take their ventures to the next level and expand to new markets, supercharging economic opportunities and job creation.
Since its launch in 2021, Google for Startups has invested $3.9million in 46 UK-based startups. Across Europe, these startups have since gone on to raise more than $110 million in follow-on funding and increase their headcount by 21%.
Early stage investment is crucial to the success of individual startups and the country’s wider startup ecosystem, a key component of the UK cementing its position as a global tech leader. The slump in UK tech investment in 2023 against a broader economic backdrop of rising interest rates and inflation, threatens to jeopardise the sector’s success and funds such as these have a significant impact during times of economic uncertainty.
The selected startups are using technology to create innovative solutions which reimagine the design process, address the country’s hospitality workforce shortage by connecting people to Living Wage roles and help to make renting more affordable. Among the ten UK startups selected are:
GRAVITY SKETCH – a virtual 3D design platform revolutionising the way we bring ideas to life and fundamentally changing the way 3D design is done today
HUSMUS – a new kind of fair and transparent renters’ insurance for how we rent in the modern world, covering tenant risk to help make renting more affordable
MYOMASTER – enabling everyday athletes to improve their performance and prevent injury
SLINGER – a platform that addresses the UK’s hospitality worker shortage by connecting the UK’s 10.3 million frontline workers to Living Wage opportunities
Each successful startup will be given up to $150,000 in non-dilutive cash awards, up to $200,000 in cloud credits, ad support, 1:1 mentoring by industry experts, and invaluable connections within Google’s network. Alongside Grow London Global, Google for Startups will co-host the Mayor of London’s international business reception to kick off London Tech Week on Monday 12th June.
Mariama Boumanjal, Google for Startups Black Founders Fund Manager for Europe and Africa said: “We’re looking forward to working with this incredibly talented group of innovative founders who are using technology to solve all sorts of challenges. The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund aims to address the stark inequality in VC funding by driving the changes needed within the tech ecosystem to give these startups an equal chance of success.
“Since launching in 2021, the fund has consistently demonstrated its impact enabling Black-led startups working across a range of sectors to scale their businesses, creating jobs and contributing to economic growth. We’re delighted to see how far previous recipients have come and can’t wait to get started with this new cohort to help them reach their full potential.”
Lottie Whyte, Founder of MyoMaster, selected for the 2023 Fund comments: “We’re passionate about fitness and our future ambition is for our products to enable millions of athletes across the globe to hit peak performance – and the backing of Google for Startups brings us one big step closer to this goal.”
Oluwaseyi Sosanya, Founder of Gravity Sketch, selected for the 2023 Fund comments: “At Gravity Sketch, we are reimagining the way designers and design teams work – and being selected for the 2023 Black Founders Fund will accelerate this revolution. The programme will provide us with the funding and support needed to expedite our product development, further support our customers, and continue international expansion. I’m excited to have this incredible opportunity to learn from and grow with Google’s network.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m delighted to see some of our most inventive Black entrepreneurs recognised by this programme and receiving the funding they need to grow their enterprises.
“Initiatives like the Black Founders Fund showcase how innovation and diversity go hand-in-hand to create positive change and growth opportunities helping to build a fairer and more prosperous future for all.”
Industry support will drive growth
In the UK, Google for Startups has partnered with ITV, WPP, JCDecaux, Grow London Global and Allen and Overy, who together provide a comprehensive package of advertising, marketing, financial, and legal support to the UK Black Founders Fund recipients.