Techstars to Create Workforce Startup Accelerator

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BOULDER, Colo., May 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Techstars, the global platform for innovation and investment, today announced the launch of the Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator. Amid the global coronavirus pandemic impact, with the potential of nearly 200 million global job losses according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the mentorship-driven accelerator will work with startups addressing the challenges of the current labor market through innovative technologies, business models and solutions.

The accelerator will be run in partnership with ZOMALAB, a private family office investing to catalyze bold and innovative solutions to key social and economic issues, Strada Education Network, a nonprofit organization with expertise bridging education and employment for students across the United States, and Colorado Thrives, a 501(c)(3) bringing together CEO leaders from 13 of the Colorado’s largest employers focused on advancing the state. Together, Techstars, ZOMALAB, Strada Education Network, and Colorado Thrives will bring founders from across the globe to Colorado, a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, for an intensive, mentorship-driven 13-week program each year.

Starting today, the Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator will accept applications from global startups developing products and/or services focused on the advancement of students and a skilled and relevant workforce, with applications to the U.S. market. The accelerator aims to democratize access to high quality training, networks and jobs; enable individuals to make informed decisions about the professional pathways that best suit them; promote and increase awareness of non-degree pathways to employment; and support businesses in closing skill gaps and opportunity seekers in building professional networks. Technologies applicable to this program include but are not limited to: tools that help workers navigate the changing landscape of work, as well as platforms and financial tools supporting training, re-skilling, formal education, and building relevant connections.

The program will be led by Managing Director Taylor McLemore, serial entrepreneur and founder of Patriot Boot Camp, a Boulder-based 501(c)(3) that supports active duty members, veterans, and their spouses in their entrepreneurial efforts. McLemore is also a Techstars alumni, graduating from the Techstars Boulder Accelerator in 2013.

“Technology is rapidly reshaping our global workforce and the skills required to engage in our modern world,” said McLemore. “In this global health and economic crisis, startup founders are being offered a challenge: how can we accelerate the solutions and innovations needed by millions of students, workers, and employers? Building a path to improve how people work, do their best work and get back to work is critical. This accelerator is an opportunity to have significant and long-term impact. There is no greater challenge than how we as a global community get people back into the workforce in productive, meaningful jobs.”

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will almost certainly impact our education-to-employment system, influencing the needs of students and employers alike,” said Strada Education Network CEO William D. Hansen. “We cannot yet predict what that change will look like, but our learning and job-training providers will benefit from guidance that helps them transition to meet those needs. Bold, entrepreneurial ideas are vital to guiding America’s workforce and learning providers into this future, which is why this new accelerator program is important.”

“We are at a historic turning point for our nation as millions of Americans look for ways to reenter the workforce. Current options are often limited for job seekers in their ability to match experience to the right positions, help people understand skills they may need, and get those skills affordably,” said Ben Walton, co-founder of ZOMALAB. “With a network of 13 influential, Colorado employers at the table to share needs and inform solutions, this is a huge opportunity to tap entrepreneurial innovation worldwide. We’re honored to play a role in supporting the creation of, not one solution, but a variety of choices that provide more American’s pathways to sustainable careers and a great quality of life.”

Based in Denver, Colorado the 13-week program will accept 10 startups on an annual basis. Participants will benefit from programming and mentorship to support rapid growth of their businesses, as well as access to each partners’ network. Contrary to other Techstars accelerators, the program will engage two additional non-profit organizations, sponsored by grants from Colorado Thrives, to participate in the three-month program to benefit from the accelerator, though they will not receive investment funding. The nonprofits will be sourced by both Colorado Thrives and Techstars through a separate application process that will be announced later this summer.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is magnifying the pace of change and too many people are at risk of being left behind,” said Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global. “One piece to the puzzle is bringing entrepreneurs and innovators to the table to solve some of the intractable problems facing workers and small businesses. Colorado Thrives is working to make an impact on economic and social mobility in the state of Colorado.  We believe that in order to do so, we need to see innovation in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors in the form of scalable solutions to workforce development.”

The Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator is currently set to take place in Denver starting November 2, 2020, culminating in a demo day on February 11, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, any considerations with respect to running the program in a virtual format will be evaluated this summer, dependent upon the impact and uncertainties at that time. Startups interested in participating in the Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator are encouraged to learn more by visiting the program page or expressing interest here.

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