The Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis Expands to Europe

21 September 2021

Venture studio takes on FinTech’s diversity problem by helping entrepreneurial women build venture-backable businesses

The Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis (“the Lab”), a US-based venture fund and studio dedicated to investing and cultivating entrepreneurial talent in women across the financial services ecosystem, today announced its expansion into the UK and Europe to invest and usher in a more representative generation of global FinTech founders.

Established in 2019, the Lab combines Barclays’ and Anthemis’ early stage investment expertise and wide FinTech network to identify female founders at the earliest stage of their journey and match them with capital and support to build and scale a company. Three of the first companies to launch out of the Lab include Swaypay, a social commerce startup that reroutes billions of ad dollars from platforms like Facebook into shoppers pockets by democratizing influencer perks for all, Nivelo, which is enabling faster ACH payments with a new API security layer, and First Boulevard, a digitally native neobank focused on improving the financial livelihood of Black America.

“Since inception of the Lab, we have met with hundreds of companies across the FinTech ecosystem with more than 40% being BIPOC founders, and supported a number of female founders in building venture-scalable businesses. This plainly disproves the existence of a pipeline problem as the reason behind female founders’ negligible share of venture funding, and instead points to the vast untapped entrepreneurial potential that needs to be nurtured, networked and funded,” said Katie Palencsar.

Data from Pitchbook showed that venture funding for female founders hit a three-year low in Q3 of 2020 as the pandemic had a disproportionately negative effect on women and minority-founded businesses. In Europe, companies founded solely by women in 2020 garnered just 2.1% of the total capital invested in venture-backed startups.

To change the status quo, the Lab is designed specifically for Female entrepreneurs. The founders will receive an investment from the $30million UK-based fund of which Barclays is the anchor LP, bespoke support from the Lab team and have access to Barclays and Anthemis dedicated office spaces in London. The Lab will continue to be led by Katie Palencsar, Investor & Global Head of Venture Studio at Anthemis. Katie will be supported by Sonal Lakhani, Head of Innovation Programmes at Barclays, who will leverage Barclays experience in building collaboration opportunities with FinTechs.

This expansion builds upon the work Barclays has already done to promote diversity and inclusion in the start-up community through programmes such as Female Founders First and the Black Founders Accelerator.

“By working alongside the Barclays Innovation team and Anthemis, the Barclays Principal Investments team is able to provide strategic support, which may include capital for early stage female led FinTechs, and also unlock identified barriers of growth for these founders so they can scale at pace,” said Kathryn McLeland, Group Treasurer at Barclays.

Early pioneers in what has become an active FinTech category, Anthemis takes a differentiated, thesis-driven approach, seeking best-in-class, high-growth financial services companies and focusing on their success through razor-sharp work with founding teams and active collaboration with the incumbent financial services ecosystem. This approach includes prioritizing diversity and women-founded companies. At current count, more than 20% of Anthemis’ portfolio of 130-plus companies are women-founded.

To learn more about the Female Innovators Lab or to apply, please visit home.barclays/femaleinnovatorslab.