A spoken word artist and a female campaigner for under-represented communities in Zimbabwe are among new recruits to a London-based investor training program aiming to diversify the venture capital world.
The Newton Venture Program (NVP), launched in October last year, is on a bid to make the VC sector more representative, and make investing in early-stage ventures more accessible.
The initiative offers an executive education course, and recruits will spend three months learning from leading academics and practitioners about the VC industry, global investors and entrepreneurs.
Its first cohort is made up of more than 50% women, with 50% of participants coming from Black and minority ethnic groups from across the UK, Europe, Africa and the US. Over 80% of the group are aged 25-34.
The group will be taught by sector experts, with modules spanning how to win deals, financials, insight into industries from fintech to AI, and scaling business growth.
The program is joint venture between London Business School, seed fund LocalGlobe and investment firm Latitude, and is also backed by a grant from Research England, the funding body of UKRI which supports world-leading UK innovation and research.
It says it "has ambitions to kickstart a virtuous circle of boosting and promoting diversity for decades to come". Program bosses cite a recent All Raise report that found female investors are twice as likely to invest in startups with one female founder, and more than three times more likely to invest in a female CEO.
Ophelia Brown has raised more than £206 million since launching her technology-focused European venture capital firm, Blossom Capital. She recently told the Standard that improving diversity in the sector "is about recognising that there shouldn’t be these pointless barriers to entry".
The program also revealed on Monday that global innovation investor, Silicon Valley Bank, is joining as a founding partner, and launched applications for its second cohort of students.
NVP executive director, Lisa Shu, said: “We’re delighted to have attracted such a wealth of talent and potential with our first cohort, and to be opening applications for even more of the brightest minds from all backgrounds to join us for our second.
"Our urgent mission is to disrupt the ecosystem through increasing the diversity of venture investors and developing them so they have equal opportunity to thrive."
Claire Palmer, Director of VC at Silicon Valley Bank UK Branch, said that by "bringing together diverse talent to learn directly from the best minds in the industry, it helps to close this experience gap and accelerates the change we all want to see".
She added: "I cannot wait to see this incredible cohort learning from the best, building the next generation of funds and taking the industry forward.”
The program costs from £2,030 for students new to the sector. Scholarships starting from 25% of the programme fee are available, with some free places also on offer. Successful applicants will join in September.
For more information or to apply, see here