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$100,000 Nielsen grant seeds Tampa Bay Wave accelerator for diverse startups

Craig Anderson of HeadRehab talks with his wife and colleague, Vera, at a communal work table Tampa Bay Wave in 2014. EVE EDELHEIT | Times (2014)
Published Feb. 14, 2018

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Wave will use a $100,000 grant from the Nielsen Foundation to create a 90-day accelerator program for tech startups owned by women, minorities, veterans or LGBT entrepreneurs.

This summer's TechDiversity Accelerator will aim to foster the growth and development of early-stage tech companies in the Tampa Bay area and beyond, the two nonprofit organizations said in a joint announcement on Wednesday.

Companies chosen to participate in the accelerator will have access to mentoring from tech company founders, guidance from an "entrepreneur in residence," introductions to investors and access to the Wave's seed fund for startups, plus coaching on pitching their ideas and making their plans ready for investment.

The grant marks one of the Nielsen Foundation's first signature programs.

"We hope that empowering, encouraging and accelerating diverse tech businesses through the accelerator can really move the needle on growing the pipeline of diverse-owned companies around the United States," foundation executive director of grant-making Crystal Barnes said in the announcement.

The foundation began making grants in 2016 and is funded by Nielsen, the television-ratings pioneer that has grown into a wide-ranging data analytics company with a global technology and innovation center in Oldsmar. The foundation's goals include using data to reduce discrimination, ease global hunger, promote effective education and develop leaders.

Tampa Bay Wave launched its accelerator in 2013 and usually brings through three groups, or cohorts, of startups a year. The current group in the accelerator, the 16th overall, consists of 12 companies.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Tampa Bay Wave expands amid rising confidence

"Wave is committed to removing barriers for underrepresented startups," Tampa Bay Wave founder and president Linda Olson said. "The benefits of startup inclusion stretch across the entire technology ecosystem and will contribute to the strength of our entrepreneurial community."

For the TechDiversity Accelerator, Tampa Bay Wave plans to work with the nonprofit Checkered Flag Run Foundation, based in Arizona, to attract applicants nationally. The application period opened Wednesday and will close March 31.

The new program is looking for companies with a full-time staff of two or more, the ability to travel to Tampa at least three times during the 90-day program, a viable business plan and a financial runway of at least six to 12 months.

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Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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