Singularity University's Startup Lab has an accelerator programme where they are inviting companies from all over the world who are leveraging technology to build impact. If you have a business at the intersection of tech and impact, then this lab wants to enable you with the best chance to impact the world.
If you visit Silicon Valley then one person you should meet is Pascal Finette. While he is one of the most networked and well-intended guy, he is also pushing the frontier of innovation with his role at Singularity University. Finette’s life is very much intertwined with startups and with the drive to make an impact. Before heading Singularity University Startup Lab, he supported many entrepreneurs in starting their business while working at eBay, Mozilla and Google; he invested in early stage startups and launched his own consulting firm.
Finette talked to YourStory about his plans to create the most impactful accelerator in the world at Singularity University’s Startup Lab with http://singularityu.org/labs/
Since last June, Startup Lab, the SU advisory program for entrepreneurs, has undertaken some important changes to maximize its impact.
“We quickly identified that we need to run an accelerator program focused on hands-on-campus experience to help companies build themselves. To augment this, we set up an Entrepreneurs Residence Program to attract interesting people into our community. The second step will be setting up a venture fund and a few other concrete things to support the efforts,” explains Finette.
Singularity University itself is focusing mainly on an educational setup. They have a Graduate Study Program every summer where 80 students from around the globe are invited to the NASA Research Park in California for 10 weeks to build team projects. Out of the 20, which normally are created, around six become actual companies from which Singularity take five to seven percent equity.
“That will not be big enough, so we also look at companies within our network and others which come as external referrals," says Finette, adding, "I want to build the goddamn best program for startups to leverage technology which scale, and solve humanity's grand challenges.”
Startup Lab aims to support technological solutions with a global impact. "To the best of my knowledge, there is nobody who really looks at the intersection between technology and social issues," says Finette.
Beside this, the Lab is unique in as much it supports both for profit and non-profit companies. "In some cases, it is possible to solve some of the big problems in the world and make profit. For example, people even at the bottom of the economic pyramid are willing to pay for clean drinking water. But there's no market for solutions to other problems such as poaching." So, Startup Lab decided to support non-profit companies through grand equity.
Matternet and Miroculus are two companies that benefited from Singularity’s accelerating program. The former delivers goods with drones in areas with poor transport systems, like Bhutan, focusing on medical supplies. The latter works on early cancer detection using MicroRNA tester.
Startup Lab has just launched the applications for the Residence Program, and in March they will receive the first batch which would allow them to give away cash prizes.
Interestingly, in Finette's definition of innovation there is a very thin demarcation line between being humble and being smart. "First of all, we are learning from the best. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I’ve got very good relationships with most of the large programs, so we are looking at what they are doing and we are learning a lot from that. Because a lot of the basics are the same no matter what kind of company you are."
“Business support, technology, networks, and just a friend to stand with you,” Finette says, “you will get it all here as we have the same drive as an entrepreneur to make things happen and impact the world in the true sense.”