November 22, 2022 — The AI and Security Mentorship Program for Historically Underrepresented Founders, hosted by MassChallenge, today announced the innovative winners and finalists. IBM awarded a total of $50,000 in zero-equity cash prizes to three startups and named five runners up. A social learning platform focused on gamified self-esteem received the top prize. A digital learning platform helping the Hispanic community access fair credit and an AI-enabled SaaS platform helping companies create diverse teams were also awarded.
The program sought to bridge the gap between historically underrepresented founders innovating with artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, and the access to knowledge, networks, and opportunity. More than 126 IBM employees volunteered their time and expertise to mentor founders to help them accelerate startup growth.
IBM and community experts volunteered more than 300 hours, including virtual lunch and learn sessions on corporate venture capital, pitch design, funding rounds, ethical artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity best practices. Post-program, a considerable number of founders and mentors continue to work together today.
Enrichly received the top prize of $30,000; Dollarito and Stack.ai each received $10,000. Named runners up of the program include Generus, Achieve.ai, Emerging Technology Ventures, SandwYch, Parrots Inc., and Mod Tech Labs.
“With this cohort announcement we’re reaching another significant milestone, which further signals MassChallenge’s commitment to leading the way in building inclusive communities that support founders of all backgrounds and industries, from anywhere in the world,” said Hope Hopkins, MassChallenge Head of Acceleration. “The expansion of cybersecurity in addition to the AI focus has the potential to be even more transformative. Through this mentorship program, startups will receive personalized, subject matter expertise to unlock their potential.”
“The purpose of this program is to make AI and security expertise and industry connections more accessible to founders from historically underrepresented communities,” said Matt Puccini, Ecosystem Innovation Leader and ISM at IBM. “IBM’s AI and Security businesses along with technical experts from the IBM Ecosystem who participated all volunteered their time to work with founders. Through our collaboration with MassChallenge, we were able to engage high quality startups that each have the potential to make a big social and economic impact in their industries. We would like to congratulate the winners.”
Since November 2021, the winter and summer cohorts supported a total of 101 startups with 82 BIPOC founders and 64 female or non-binary founders, representing eight countries. Between the two cohorts, there were artificial intelligence and cybersecurity innovations in multiple industries including agriculture, biotechnology, education, energy, enterprise software, financial technology, healthcare, online commerce, robotics, sports technology sustainability, telecommunications, and more.
MassChallenge is the global network for innovators. Headquartered in the United States with eight locations worldwide, MassChallenge equips bold entrepreneurs to disrupt the status quo and to create meaningful change. Since launching in 2009, more than 3,000 startups have participated in a MassChallenge program and non-profit has awarded over $17M in equity-free cash and prizes. Learn more about MassChallenge at masschallenge.org.