03 Dec 2021

Cooley partners with Tech Nation for D&I programme aimed at black entrepreneurs

'First-of-its-kind' scheme offers guidance to early-stage UK tech startups with at least one Black or multiracial with Black heritage founder

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US top 20 law firm Cooley has signed on to support tech entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds by partnering with Tech Nation's Libra, a growth programme designed to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the UK tech sector. 

Libra was launched in September to provide access to capital, commercial opportunities and professional networks to UK tech startups with at least one Black or multiracial with Black heritage founder. 

By partnering with Libra, which claims to be the first programme of its kind in the UK, Cooley lawyers will offer practical guidance on securing institutional investments to the 30 seed or pre-seed companies that make up Libra’s first cohort. 

“With underrepresented founders facing a historic lack of access and a significant lack of diversity within venture capital, we are excited to partner with Libra as they drive change around how capital is allocated and accessed,” said Chris Coulter, a London-based Cooley partner and member of the firm’s diversity committee. 

Libra’s inaugural cohort includes startups operating across the edtech, data analytics, business intelligence, health tech and smart cities sectors, among others. 

The startups will receive more than 60 hours of support from Tech Nation alumni and Cooley professionals over a six-month period covering topics including fundraising, selling into corporates, scaling operations and expanding internationally. 

Abi Mohamed, Tech Nation’s Libra programme lead, said: “I am confident Cooley’s contribution will help underrepresented founders on their growth journey and provide vital support for these companies to take with them long after they complete the programme.”

“As an international law firm, Cooley’s experience promoting equality and diversity in a range of contexts strongly aligns with the aims and values of the Libra programme,” she added. 

Earlier this year, Slaughter and May signed on to act in partnership with young tech companies by joining Tech Nation’s Future Fifty Campaign, an initiative aimed at supporting 50 of the most promising late-stage UK companies in the sector. 

A number of other UK law firms have also been leveraging tech programmes to move forward with their diversity and inclusion and environmental, social and governance (ESG) agendas. Last month, top 40 UK firm RPC launched an ESG-focused tech accelerator programme, RPC Tectonic, aimed at providing ESG-focused tech ventures with up to £100,000 worth of legal advice for up to 12 months. 

And last week, Slaughters partnered with the Center for Climate Change Innovation to introduce the five climate tech-focused startups joining the fifth cohort of its tech entrepreneurs programme, Fast Forward. 

 

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