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Google Picks 12 Startups for Google for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders

Google has announced the lineup of its third Google for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders cohort, including Edlight and its AI-powered tool for educational institutes that reads and retypes handwritten text. A dozen startups were picked from hundreds of North American applicants to receive significant support and potential funding opportunities as part of the ten-week program.

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The Melrose, Massachusetts-based Edlight applies AI to process and recreate the handwritten text in digital form, specifically papers written by students in school. Edlight aims at improving educational equity by removing any potential difficulty reading a student’s handwriting and potential judgment, focusing the evaluation on the content alone. Google chose startups encompassing a broad range of industries and digital technologies, and AI plays some role in almost all of them. The cohort counts a haptic navigation tool that guides people by vibration, a marketplace where small businesses can hire local influencers, and a mobile platform for on-demand legal advice in its membership.

“Today only 1% of venture capital goes to Black founders in the US, with Black women founders receiving even less. At Google, we are committed to building racial equity in the North American startup ecosystem,” said Google’s U.S. head startup developer ecosystem Matt Ridenour. “This fall, these startups will embark on a 10-week virtual program consisting of mentorship, technical support and curriculum covering product design, machine learning, customer acquisition, and leadership development for founders.”

There are a growing number of accelerators designed to encourage diversity in tech startups. For instance, Amazon Alexa Fund and Alexa Startups recently unveiled their first Black Founders Build with Alexa cohort. The four-month program centers on voice and AI startups, who will each get a shot at up to $100,000 in investment from the Alexa Fund. Google for Startups Accelerator has its own Voice AI program, but hasn’t set up a cohort around broadening the diversity of those startups as of yet.


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