9984.T-JPThe logo of SoftBank Group in Tokyo.Philip Fong | AFP via Getty Images
LONDON — SoftBank is aiming to put its money where its mouth is on diversity.
SoftBank Investment Advisers, which manages the Japanese conglomerate’s Vision Fund for tech investing, said Wednesday it will launch its diversity-focused Emerge accelerator program in Europe.
The company first introduced Emerge last year in the U.S. with WeWork Labs, the office rental firm’s start-up incubator, to back 14 start-ups whose founders come from underrepresented backgrounds. SoftBank says it has invested $5 million across 13 start-ups in the program so far.
Now, SoftBank is bringing Emerge to Europe — but with a twist. This time, it’s bringing in Speedinvest and a number of other notable venture capital investors in the continent to provide access to a broader network of potential investors and partners.
“Softbank is a famous investor in the later stages, with massive global successes” such as Uber, Oliver Holle, co-founder and managing partner of Speedinvest, told CNBC in an interview. “But they are not set up for investing in those very early nascent stages of company building.”
Other venture funds participating in the European program include Breega, Cherry Ventures, firstminute capital and Kindred.
Start-up accelerator programs are