On the rise: Barclays backs new Female Innovators Lab

18 September 2019

When it comes to attracting funding, female entrepreneurs often face big barriers, with research revealing that only a small percentage of venture capital funding in fintech goes to all-female startup teams. The Female Innovators Lab, a new partnership launched today by Barclays and Anthemis in New York, aims to tackle this problem by offering “resources, capital, expertise and networks” to female founders.

“Studies show that companies with at least one female founder generally receive around $1m less than companies with only male founders,” says Mariquit Corcoran, Executive Sponsor of the Female Innovators Lab and Managing Director of Group Innovation at Barclays, “yet they also show these companies provide double the per-dollar profit on investment than companies led only by men.”

Today Barclays, in partnership with the fintech investment firm Anthemis, announces plans to address this funding disparity, with the launch of the Female Innovators Lab – a New York-based studio targeting female entrepreneurs who hope to establish sustainable companies that change the face of the banking industry.

“Women in financial services often feel that the opportunities are limited for them,” says Amy Nauiokas, CEO and Founder of Anthemis. “We’re going to do everything in our power to change that.”

In the next three years, says Nauiokas, the Lab will bring “our resources, our capital, our expertise and our networks” to female founders “to give them the support they need to build their companies into investible assets”.

Once established, the startups will move into Barclays’ newly expanded Rise building in New York’s Silicon Alley, where they will tap into the unparalleled mentoring and network opportunities of the world-class fintech hub.

Rise is in the process of becoming a 66,000 sq ft site that’s home to over 100 companies. John Stecher, Barclays’ Group Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, says: “I’m a big believer in diversity of thought and diversity of opinions creating great products and I think this is really going to highlight bringing in diverse creators and entrepreneurs to build some really cool stuff. I’m excited to see what they build.”

Nauiokas believes that “a lot of lip service has been paid for a very long time about improving the disparity between genders in the industry.” Partnering with Barclays, she now says that “this is really the first time where Wall Street and investors are coming together and putting their money where their mouths are to make what I believe will make a real difference to gender disparity in the industry, and that will be better for everybody in financial services, but also the economy as a whole”.

As a female-founder herself, Nauiokas deploys capital actively targeting female entrepreneurs, but even, as she says, “thinking about this on a daily basis”, Anthemis has only managed to invest 16% of their capital in female-founded companies. “While that is significantly better than the industry average according to PitchBook, which is around 2%, it’s still not good enough."


With Barclays, she says, “I think we’ve found a partner that feels the same way and is willing to help us change this for the better for the entire industry. Barclays was a logical partner for us for a whole host of reasons.

“The public attention and internal focus on gender diversity and inclusion has been noted. Three of the four founding partners in this lab are actually former Barclays employees, so we have a long history together. It’s been wonderful to watch over the last couple of years to see the organisation move even more aggressively, committing time, capital and attention to this really important issue of diversity in our industry. We’re thrilled to be with a group who understands the urgency of this and are also bringing an authenticity to it.”