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Business & Innovation

Google funds 20 Black & Latino-Led AI startups

todayJune 26, 2024 2

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Google Funds 20 Black & Latino-Led AI Startups to Bridge Tech Gap
Manny Smith. Founder & CEO of EdVisorly

Google Research has announced funding for 20 startups through its Google for Startups Founders Funds program. This initiative aims to support Black and Latino-led companies using artificial intelligence (AI) to address real-world challenges. It comes at a crucial time when concerns about the economic implications of the AI divide are growing.

The announcement comes amid significant economic projections and concerns about racial disparities in the AI sector. McKinsey projects that generative AI could create up to $4.4 trillion in global economic impact across various industries. However, the distribution of this wealth is likely to be uneven.

Currently, Black Americans capture only about 38 cents of every dollar of new household wealth despite representing 13% of the US population. If this trend continues, by 2045, the racially disparate distribution of new wealth created by AI could increase the wealth gap between Black and White households by $43 billion annually.

In the job market, Black workers are disproportionately at risk of displacement by AI. A McKinsey analysis of 2022 data shows that 24% of all Black workers are in occupations with greater than 75% automation potential, compared to just 20% of White workers. This vulnerability is reflected in worker concerns, with 53% of Black respondents in a recent survey expressing worry that AI might replace their jobs in the next five years, compared to 39% of White respondents.

There’s a growing emphasis on increasing diversity in AI development to address these disparities. However, progress has been slow. While exact numbers for Black-owned AI startups are difficult to obtain, the overall picture of Black representation in tech is concerning. Black employees comprise only 3.7% of Google’s tech workforce and 3.9% of Facebook’s.

In this context, Google’s initiative takes on particular significance, aiming to support and nurture AI talent from underrepresented communities.

The selected startups will receive substantial support from Google. Each company will be granted $150,000 in non-dilutive cash awards and $100,000 in Google Cloud credits. Additionally, they will benefit from hands-on mentorship provided by Google experts in various fields, including AI and sales. This comprehensive package is designed to help these companies build, scale, and innovate responsibly with AI technology.

The selected startups are applying AI to a wide range of sectors, showcasing the versatility of this technology. For instance, Improving Aviation is developing solutions to prevent wildfires, addressing a critical environmental concern. Sortile is working on diverting fast fashion from landfills in the fashion industry, contributing to sustainability efforts. In the education sector, EdVisorly is assisting community college students in transferring to four-year degree programs, potentially improving educational outcomes.

This marks the fifth year of the Google for Startups Founders Funds, which originated in the United States. The program has made a significant impact since its inception. It has distributed over $50 million to over 570 Black and Latino founders globally. The program’s success is further evidenced by the fact that these recipients have raised an additional $590 million in follow-on funding, indicating the potential for long-term growth and impact.

2024 Recipients

The 2024 program has selected a diverse group of startups, each leveraging AI in unique ways to address various challenges. Here’s a complete list of the recipients and their focus areas:

  • Akeptus (Glenwood, MD) provides a smart home energy management system that helps homeowners optimize their energy usage and reduce costs.
  • Beta Financial Services (Chicago, IL) removes bias in financial services through tools like BetaScore, a proprietary credit model designed to help SMBs obtain loans.
  • Bountiful (San Francisco, CA) helps farmers and food industry professionals with forecasts and critical insights for specialty crops.
  • Cambio AI (New York, NY) provides software that helps commercial landlords and corporate tenants reach their net zero goals by decarbonizing their facilities.
  • EdVisorly (Los Angeles, CA) helps community college students explore and apply to public and private universities.
  • Elis (Pound Ridge, NY) helps product and marketing teams efficiently collect rich customer insights via interviews.
  • HacWare (Frisco, TX) helps businesses combat phishing attacks through experiential learning.
  • Hire Henry (St Louis, MO) develops industrial robotic mowers for large greenspaces.
  • Hue (Boston, MA) helps brands source and integrates authentic customer testimonials on their marketing channels.
  • Improving Aviation (Tampa, FL) provides AI and emerging vehicle technologies to enhance public safety, aviation and wildfire management operations.
  • InOrbit, Inc. (Mountain View, CA) helps developers and operators virtually manage and scale their robotics fleets.
  • JustAir (Detroit, MI) equips community leaders with health and environmental insights through air quality monitoring networks.
  • Maverick (San Francisco, CA) helps e-commerce stores create personalized customer experiences with generative AI.
  • Pagedip (Boulder, CO) is a no-code content publishing app that helps teams work more effectively and efficiently.
  • Raincoat (San Juan, PR) provides governments, financial institutions and insurers with automated and scalable climate insurance tools.
  • Sensagrate (Scottsdale, AZ) aims to reduce traffic and decrease traffic-related fatalities with cutting-edge computer vision and AI solutions.
  • Sortile (New York, NY) is a waste management system that uses AI to identify, sort and trace textiles.
  • TackleAI (Schaumburg, IL) turns unstructured documents and datasets into intelligible and immediately accessible data.
  • Trustible (Arlington, VA) helps companies surface hidden AI risks, check compliance requirements and accelerate responsible AI development.
  • Waterplan (San Francisco, CA) is a water sustainability platform that helps organizations gather, report, and act on water-related risks.

Learn more about Google for Startups Founders Funds and the incredible recipients worldwide.


Written by: Tarik Moody

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