Bank of America and Newlab Partner to Launch Innovator Spotlight Initiative to Support Technology Founders From Historically Underrepresented Backgrounds
Innovator Spotlight seeks to empower leading entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds with the resources to build and scale their companies
Brooklyn, New York (August 31, 2021) — Bank of America and Newlab today announced the launch of Innovator Spotlight, an initiative supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs with the power to apply transformative technology to things that matter. Through Innovator Spotlight, the partners aim to address critical representation gaps and support diversity and inclusiveness in the technology industry across race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Sponsored by Bank of America and Newlab, seven companies led by founders from underrepresented backgrounds have each been granted a 12-month Newlab membership, which offers access to Newlab’s 84,000 square foot space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, its vast member community and extended global network, and on-site product realization resources to help them build and scale their companies.
In April 2021, Bank of America and Newlab launched an open call inviting early-stage technology companies led by underrepresented founders to apply for membership through Innovator Spotlight. The seven companies, selected from a competitive pool of global applicants, represent founders from backgrounds historically underrepresented in the technology industry.
The following seven companies, working on a range of verticals across connected systems, robotics, biotech, energy, AI, additive manufacturing, wearable tech, and agtech, were selected to participate in the Innovator Spotlight program:
- COI Energy is an energy analytics platform for eliminating energy waste, enhancing energy efficiency, monetizing excess energy capacity, and improving energy equity.
- SaLisa L. Berrien, Founder and CEO of COI Energy, has over twenty-five years of experience in the electric power and smart grid space. She has worked at electric utilities, smart grid, clean tech, and big data analytics companies. She is from Bethlehem, PA and lives in NYC, NY & Tampa, FL.
- Boa Wrapz, a female-led fitness wearable tech start-up based in Brooklyn, NY, created the first smart workout glove and wrist wrap with distinctive technology that adapts to a user’s fitness routine while providing optimal wrist support. The company seeks to design and market wearable technology for the mainstream sports and fitness industries.
- Tishana Darden, CEO and Co-Founder of Boa Wrapz, has over 24 years in both the financial services and human resources industries. For the last 16 years she has been accountable for delivering HR operational metrics- which include developing and executing HR strategies and program/services to attract, develop and retain a highly engaged and differentiating workforce that enables the execution of human capital and business strategies.
- Nikeema Watkins, the COO /Co-Founder of Boa Wrapz, has a B.A. in Psychology from Touro College and A.A in Liberal Arts from Kingsborough Community College. She began her career in education and prides herself as being an educator that motivates, supports and advocates for students with special needs.
- Future Acres develops sustainable, advanced and intelligent farm tools to modernize the American farm starting with an autonomous harvest companion, Carry, that increases farm production efficiency and farm worker safety by aiding in crop transport, a seemingly simple task that, in reality, requires 30-40% of a farm worker’s time and energy.
- Suma Reddy is the Co-Founder and CEO of Future Acres, based in Santa Monica, CA. She has founded three companies in agritech and climate tech, is active in inclusive tech communities, is on the advisory board of Scale for ClimateTech and teaches at the NYC School of Visual Arts.
- Re-Nuble is an agricultural technology company that uses organic cycling science™ technology to transform unrecoverable vegetative food byproducts into a platform of sustainable technologies for soilless farming.
- Re-Nuble Founder Tinia Pina has a B.S. in Business Information Technology from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University She began her career in sustainability as a former student pursuing a Masters of Science degree at Columbia University prior to becoming the CEO and Founder of Re-Nuble, Inc., an agricultural technology company headquartered in New York City. A strong advocate for sustainable waste management, regenerative agriculture, and urban resilience, she has been involved in management and business development roles within the sustainability industry for ten years. She is from Woodbridge, Virginia.
- VoxCell BioInnovation is developing a set of tools capable of fabricating Truly Biomimetic tissue models with vasculature for in vitro drug testing. VoxCell proprietary bioinks, in vitro vascularized cancer tissue models, 3d structure software and 3d bioprinter allows for independent fabrication of vascularized models.
- Dr. Karolina Valente was born in Brazil and she is the Founder and CEO of VoxCell BioInnovation, a biotechnology company located in Victoria, Canada. She is also an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Victoria.
- Teknikio makes STEM accessible to girls with over 20 award-winning EdTech products relating to concepts of engineering, electronics, and computer science. The company’s mission is to help dreamers become inventors.
- Deren Guler, CEO and Founder of Teknikio, is a researcher, designer and educator based in New York who has led projects and workshops around the world. Designing accessible tools to re-imagine and reinvent the world motivates her work. She is an adjunct at Parsons School of Design, is a co-founder of the FatcatFablab makerspace, and author of Crafting Wearables: Blending Technology with Fashion. She is from Massachusetts.
- Triditive offers a next-generation 3D Printing platform powered by machine learning for automated mass production that enables the production of parts on-demand at the lowest cost. Triditive is based in Meres Siero, Spain with an office in Hartford, CT.
- Mariel Diaz is CEO and Founder of Triditive. She is an industrial engineer and mechanical engineer with more than 10 years of experience in advanced manufacturing. She is from Colombia.
- Jose Camero, CBDO and Co-Founder, has more than 20 years of experience in business development and management.
- Sergio Martinez is CTO and Co-Founder. He has a BSc in Computing and AI is a serial entrepreneur in B2B and B2C with a focus on Robotics, AI, mobile apps, videogames and hardware.
“Congratulations to the companies selected for our Innovator Spotlight program with Newlab,” said Jose Tavarez, President of Bank of America New York City. “Bank of America’s work with Newlab advances our commitment to supporting economic mobility and sustainable change within the communities we serve. By supporting entrepreneurs of underrepresented backgrounds with critical resources to scale their companies and tackle industry challenges, this program will address long-standing gaps in diversity and inclusion in the technology industry and set these entrepreneurs on a course of long-term success.”
“We are proud to partner with Bank of America to launch Innovator Spotlight, with the mission of supporting diverse representation and leadership in the technology industry by providing founders from underrepresented backgrounds access to the resources and community essential to enabling startups to build and scale their companies,” said Shaun Stewart, CEO of Newlab. “The companies selected are led by some of the best and brightest innovators in the industry today, and we are delighted to welcome them to the Newlab community.”
As Newlab members, the Innovator Spotlight companies will benefit from access to Newlab’s peer community of 200+ companies scaling transformative technology; have opportunities to showcase products, seek investment, and connect with partners for business development opportunities; utilize Newlab’s extensive facilities and state-of-the-art equipment for prototyping and product realization; and have potential opportunities to test and pilot their technologies in the real-world through possible participation in Newlab Studio programs.
About Bank of America
Bank of America is guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. They deliver on this through responsible growth with a focus on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across their eight lines of business and reflects how Bank of America helps fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace they create for their employees, the responsible products and services they offer their clients, and the impact they make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together their collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Learn more at about.bankofamerica.com, and connect with them on Twitter (@BofA_News).
Newlab is a community of experts and innovators applying transformative technology to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Newlab membership and studios bring together entrepreneurs, engineers, inventors and industry leaders to create sustainable solutions and enterprises. Newlab employs technologies including robotics, AI and material science to transform what matters most—health, environment, media, cities, and infrastructure.