Swvl launched in Cairo, a city of 25 million infamous for its traffic and an inadequate, sometimes dangerous, mass transit system.

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$220 Million For 11 AI Institutes

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. National Science Foundation have invested $220 million to establish 11 Artificial Intelligence Institutes, the institute announced last week. Each recipient will receive about $20 million over the next five years to establish the institutes. It’s an expansion on the program started last year, which funded $140 million for seven institutes. Now, the program reaches 37 states, according to the release.

The new institutes are:

  • The USDA-NIFA Institute for Agricultural AI for Transforming Workforce and Decision Support at Washington State University
  • The USDA-NIFA AI Institute for Resilient Agriculture at Iowa State University
  • NSF AI Institute for Collaborative Assistance and Responsive Interaction for Networked Groups at Georgia Technology Institute, which is partially funded by Google and Apple
  • NSF AI Institute for Advances in Optimization, also led by Georgia Tech and is partially funded by Intel
  • NSF AI Institute for Learning-Enabled Optimization at Scale at the University of California, San Diego
  • NSF AI Institute for Intelligent Cyberinfrastructure with Computational Learning in the Environment at Ohio State University
  • NSF AI Institute for Future Edge Networks and Distributed Intelligence, also led by Ohio State, and partially funded by DHS
  • NSF AI Institute for Edge Computing Leveraging Next-generation Networks at Duke University, and also partially funded by DHS
  • NSF AI Institute for Dynamic Systems at the University of Washington, and also partially funded by DHS
  • NSF AI Institute for Engaged Learning, at North Carolina State University
  • NSF AI Institute for Adult Learning and Online Education, also led by North Carolina State University and partially funded by Accenture.

New $3B Fund To Invest In Women VCs

Senior women VCs from 20 countries who call themselves European Women in VC proposed a €3 billion (about $3.5 billion) fund to be established by the European Commission to invest in women-led venture capital firms,  the Venture Capital Journal reports.

The group is headed by Kinga Stanislawska, the general managing partner and co-founder of Experior VC in Warsaw, Poland. Other members include Laura Gonzalez-Estefani, founder and CEO of Silicon Valley-based TheVentureCity, and Sille Pettai, a fund manager at Tallinn,Estonia-based SmartCap.

Additionally, the women proposed that at least 30% of capital go to women-led firms.

A previous report generated by the women found the gender disparities in the continent. It found that only 1.7% of all venture capital went to women founders from 2016-2020. Additionally, women-led VC firms only hold $5 billion of the $51 billion European assets under management over  the same years.

The group has created a petition for their proposal. 

In Queen’s Gambit, Women At The Vanguard Of SPAC Shift

Dubai-based, Egypt founded Swvil, which operates buses in emerging markets using an Uber-style app, said last week that it plans to go public through a reverse merger with a SPAC called Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital.  The special purpose acquisition company is led entirely by women. CEO Victoria Grace, also the founding partner of Colle Capital, is an investor with a long track record in tech and mission-based investments. “(The team) has done something incredibly advantageous for disadvantaged populations: access to safe and reliable mass transit,” Grace told Bloomberg news, noting that Swvl plans to expand to Europe and the United States.

You can see a copy of the deal’s investment deck here.

The deal is fascinating because of Queen’s Gambit entirely female team, and also because Swvl could become the first Middle East unicorn to list on NASDAQ, But it could also be a harbinger of more SPAC deals in emerging markets, as SPAC teams look for interesting companies to take public. Investors may also become aware, as Grace and her team were early, that competition for deals puts them at a valuation disadvantage in the United States.

Names to Know

Brian Walton has been named a chairperson of the Maine Venture Fund’s board of directors, a state-funded fund that has invested more than $25.2 million in small business, the Bangor Daily News reports. Walton is the first Black chairperson of the board, according to the article. He is the director of the Richard E. Dyke Center for Family Business and assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Husson University’s business school. 

Shea Flaherty-Betin is the new economic development director of Prosper Portland, the economic and urban development agency for Portland, Oregon, according to a news release. He previously held the role of manager of Prosper Portland’s  Entrepreneurship & Community Economic Development team, according to the release. He also previously was the director of Hacienda CDC’s Portland Mercado, where he held an incubator program for Latinx entrepreneurs.

Shakkiah Curtis is the new director of 1915 Studios, a partnership program between Neenah, Wisconsin-based Georgia Pacific and Milwaukee-based gener8tor, according to a news release. In this role, she will lead two cohorts of the program annually, according to the release. Curtis is the owner of Milwaukee-based The Pink Hustle Corp, a life coaching service for women, and the founder of nonprofit Becoming HER, which empowers women entrepreneurs. 

Open Applications

Florida State University Offers Small Business and Nonprofit Programs

The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at Florida State University’s College of Business is seeking entrepreneurs, professionals and directors for its Spring 2022 Small Business Executive Program and Nonprofit Executive Program, The Boca Raton Tribune reports. The program is funded by The Jim Moran Foundation from Jan Moran and her late husband Jim Moran, according to the article. It offers nine educational sessions running from January to May that will provide insight on growing a company. Applicants must reside in Broward County or Palm Beach County, Florida, for the small business program. Applicants for the nonprofit program must reside in Broward County.  Applications are due Sept. 30.

Cannabis Company Accerator

Chicago-based Green Thumb, a national cannabis consumer packaged goods company has opened applications for its LEAP New Business Accelerator, according to a news release. The program aims to help social equity licensees succeed while opening their business. Each applicant will participate in what the company is calling a “bake off” where they will pitch their business to the company in 10 minutes. Winners will receive funding and six months of mentorship, though the accelerator would not say how much. Applications are due Aug. 31.  

LA Program To Support Black Entrepreneurs in Personal Care

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation Los Angeles is accepting applications for a new program aimed to aid LA-based Black entrepreneurs in the personal care industry with recovering from the pandemic, according to a news release. The 12-week program will provide mentorship, networking and an opportunity to pitch to investors, according to the release. Applications are due Aug. 6

Tech Accelerator In U.S. Virgin Islands

Applications are open for the University of the Virgin Islands’ 2021 cohort of its tech accelerator, Accelerate VI, The St. Thomas Source reports. Up to seven startups will be selected for the 12-week program, which includes mentorship, training, networking and access to capital. The program aims to attract companies to the region, according to the article. Entrepreneurs with a pre-seed startup who are registered in the Virgin Islands or willing to be are eligible to apply. Applications are due Aug. 28.

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.