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Brooklyn’s Newlab and Bank of America lead US in tech initiative

'Innovator Spotlight' supports under-represented start-ups

September 8, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Bank of America and Newlab announced on Tuesday the launch of Innovator Spotlight, an initiative supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs with the power to apply transformative technology to things that matter. Through Innovator Spotlight, the partners aim to address critical representation gaps and support diversity and inclusiveness in the technology industry across race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Sponsored by Bank of America and Newlab, seven companies led by founders from underrepresented backgrounds have each been granted a 12-month Newlab membership, which offers access to Newlab’s 84,000 square foot space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, its vast member community and extended global network, and on-site product realization resources to help them build and scale their companies.

In April 2021, Bank of America and Newlab launched an open call inviting early-stage technology companies led by underrepresented founders to apply for membership through Innovator Spotlight. The seven companies, selected from a competitive pool of global applicants, represent founders from backgrounds historically underrepresented in the technology industry.

The following seven companies, working on a range of verticals across connected systems, robotics, biotech, energy, AI, additive manufacturing, wearable tech, and agtech, were selected to participate in the Innovator Spotlight program:

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COI Energy is an energy analytics platform for eliminating energy waste, enhancing energy efficiency, monetizing excess energy capacity, and improving energy equity.

SaLisa L. Berrien, Founder and CEO of COI Energy, has over twenty-five years of experience in the electric power and smart grid space. She has worked at electric utilities, smart grid, clean tech, and big data analytics companies. She is from Bethlehem, PA and lives in NYC, NY & Tampa, FL.

Boa Wrapz, a female-led fitness wearable tech start-up based in Brooklyn, NY, created the first smart workout glove and wrist wrap with distinctive technology that adapts to a user’s fitness routine while providing optimal wrist support. The company seeks to design and market wearable technology for the mainstream sports and fitness industries.

Tishana Darden, CEO and Co-Founder of Boa Wrapz, has over 24 years in both the financial services and human resources industries. For the last 16 years she has been accountable for delivering HR operational metrics — which includes developing and executing HR strategies and program/services to attract, develop and retain a highly engaged and differentiating workforce that enables the execution of human capital and business strategies.

Nikeema Watkins, the COO/Co-Founder of Boa Wrapz, has a B.A. in Psychology from Touro College, and an A.A. in Liberal Arts from Kingsborough Community College. She began her career in education and prides herself as being an educator who motivates, supports and advocates for students with special needs.

Future Acres develops sustainable, advanced and intelligent farm tools to modernize the American farm starting with an
autonomous harvest companion, Carry, that increases farm production efficiency and farm-worker safety by aiding in crop transport, a seemingly simple task that, in reality, requires 30-40 percent of a farm worker’s time and energy.

Suma Reddy is the Co-Founder and CEO of Future Acres, based in Santa Monica, CA. She has founded three companies in agritech and climate tech, is active in inclusive tech communities, is on the advisory board of Scale for ClimateTech and teaches at the NYC School of Visual Arts.

Re-Nuble is an agricultural technology company that uses organic cycling science to trans- form unrecoverable vegetative food byproducts into a platform of sustainable technologies for soilless farming.

Re-Nuble Founder Tinia Pina has a B.S. in Business Information Technology from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She began her career in sustainability as a former student pursuing a Master of Science degree at Columbia Uni-
versity prior to becoming the CEO and Founder of Re-Nuble, Inc., an agricultural technology company headquartered in New York City. A strong advocate for sustainable waste management, regenerative agriculture, and urban resilience, she has been involved in management and business development roles within the sustainability industry for ten years. She is from Woodbridge, Virginia.

VoxCell BioInnovation is developing a set of tools capable of fabricating Truly Biomimetic tissue models with vasculature for invitro drug testing. VoxCell proprietary bioinks, in-vitro vascularized cancer tissue models, 3D structure software and 3D bioprinter allows for independ-ent fabrication of vascularized models.

Dr. Karolina Valente was born in Brazil and she is the Founder and CEO of VoxCell BioInnovation, a biotechnology company located in Victoria, Canada. She is also an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Victoria.

Teknikio makes STEM accessible to girls with over 20 award-winning EdTech products relating to concepts of engineering, electronics, and computer science. The company’s mission is to help dreamers become inventors.

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