With a new partner accelerator, the University of Maryland (UMD) is breaking into blockchain — well, metaphorically speaking, anyway.
The university’s Robert H. Smith School, in partnership with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and the Supply Chain Management Center, is launching its very first Blockchain Accelerator. In a six-week, virtual program that uses the FounderTrac platform, 10 to 15 startups that are focused on the technology will get the chance to meet with a mentor and take part in weekly learning sessions with other cohort members. The program cumulates in a Demo Day where founders will get to pitch their startups to angel investors.
Juan Acosta, an MBA candidate at the business school and lead organizer for the program, said school leaders wanted to create a blockchain-based accelerator due to the technology’s potential. The school itself is also very interested in blockchain tech, he said, as the university just created a new course on the topic in the business school.
“Everyone, in a way, is getting into blockchain” because of the technology’s focus on decentralization, Acosta told Technical.ly. “It’s such big news everywhere we go. There are cryptocurrencies, there’s NFTs — all of those are technologies that build upon blockchain technology.”
Acosta said that the program will be accepting applications from startups of any stage, noting that it already has a few applicants that have raised a good amount of funding — though the program itself is free, and won’t take any equity from founders. It’s also open to founders across the world, despite the UMD backing. What the school is really looking for, he noted, is founders who have a strong technical product but need a little assistance in the business side of things.
With blockchain “being such a new and emerging technology and [UMD] being a recognized business school and university, we thought it would be an incredible way to combine these expertises and this demand” by launching the themed accelerator, Acosta said.
Applications for the accelerator opened in January and programming is scheduled to begin March 16.
Through its SHRMLabs program, Alexandria, Virginia-based Society for Human Resource Management is launching a brand-new accelerator for HR technology startups.
The eight-week program, which will be hosted virtually, is designed for early-stage startups hoping to solve workplace and culture challenges. Companies that participate in the WorkplaceTech Accelerator will have access to an advisory council, marketplace data, a $120,000 minimum investment and access to the SHRM network of professionals, the org said.
In order to qualify, startups must be incorporated with a cohesive team and business plan, have a developed product in the market, and be generating no more than $4 million in annual recurring revenue. The overall goal is to back startups creating a new future of work or improving the general workplace experience.
“SHRM is leading by example to cause the effect to bring better workplaces to build a better world,” said Guillermo Corea, managing director of SHRM’s Innovation Lab, in a statement. “Through SHRMLabs, we are highlighting and helping develop innovative entrepreneurs who are working to bring new technologies into the workplace that will support HR professionals across the world.”
The cohort kicks off in April and will continue through a Demo Day on June 7.