Female Innovators Lab Fund
Barclays and Anthemis are committed to bringing more women into entrepreneurship and closing the fundraising gender gap.
The Female Innovators Lab Fund is a US, UK and Europe based studio, dedicated to cultivating entrepreneurial talent in women from all sides of the financial services ecosystem. The Lab’s mission is to identify female founders at the idea stage of their journey and match them with the resources and mentorship required to develop a company and bring it to its first round of fundraising.
Anthemis’ track record as early-stage FinTech investors and venture builders, coupled with the power and global footprint of Barclays, makes this an exceptional opportunity for prospective founders to progress their business ideas.
Participating startups will have access to Barclays’ world-class FinTech hub Rise, and Anthemis’ dedicated office spaces, with unparalleled mentorship and networking opportunities.
Meet some of our participants
“It has been the most valuable partnership I've ever had”
As the Female Innovators Lab Fund celebrates its first birthday, we speak to two innovative founders about their experiences of starting their fintech startups.
Helping Black America achieve financial parity
With US $5m in seed funding from investors including the Female Innovators Lab Fund, neobank First Boulevard aims to provide innovative banking services for Black communities in the US.
Learn about the further support Barclays offers women in Fintech, from networking to mentorship.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is the Female Innovators Lab?
The Anthemis Female Innovators Lab Fund (FIL), anchored by Barclays and backed by Aviva, is a venture fund and studio dedicated to investing and cultivating entrepreneurial talent in women across the financial services ecosystem. FIL invests in businesses led by female founders and provides them with human, intellectual and financial resources, backed by an extensive network of advisors and experts from Anthemis, Barclays, Aviva and other strategic investors. Companies will receive support and guidance around product, operations, hiring, marketing and more, all of which will be focused on helping founders to build their business.
How is it different from accelerators and incubators?
FIL is a venture fund and studio, not an accelerator or incubator. There is no cohort cycle associated with FIL.
What geographies does FIL invest?
FIL invests in the US, Canada, UK & Europe. Founders have the flexibility to spend time working from the Anthemis or Barclays Rise offices in New York City or London but do not have to be based in those cities.
Why should founders seek funding from FIL?
Founders should pitch FIL for access to capital, dedicated resources, mentoring, networking, and investment opportunities.
What check sizes does FIL typically invest?
FIL will make an upfront investment in founders. The amount will vary founder by founder, business by business. Follow-on capital is available to support the business as it grows and as they approach their next fundraising round.
What kind of founder are you looking for?
There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to identifying successful founders in terms of age, education, or work experience. We expect to invest in companies and founders who have worked at, or potentially founded, startups and those who have had more traditional careers and are embarking on their first venture. FIL welcomes founding teams or solo entrepreneurs. Founders should be ready to make a full time commitment to their company.
Do you have to be a woman to apply?
FIL is designed to bring more women into entrepreneurship. Our definition of “woman” is the broadest possible and includes any female-identifying, nonbinary, and genderqueer founders.
How do you define fintech?
We see this future state of financial services as embedded, augmented and ubiquitous. Rather than finance being discrete, we see it becoming an intimate part of the products and services that drive our economies. We imagine a world where finance is embedded deep inside the workings of our businesses and economies, powering the lives and progress of citizens and businesses rather than being a service consumed independently. Please review the Anthemis “6+1” subsectors of fintech on our investments page for more information. If you’re unsure if your company is the right fit, please reach out, and we can help determine if there is a fintech application.
Will FIL help to identify early team members?
Yes. A big part of early stage company creation is finding the right founding team. We have deep networks inside the fintech ecosystem and will support companies in building their founding team.
What stage companies are eligible for FIL?
FIL is best suited for founders who have a business concept they would like to build into a venture-scalable business, as well as those who are actively fundraising. FIL looks to be the first institutional check into a company.
Who is leading FIL?
Katie Palencsar joined the Anthemis team in September 2019 to lead the Female Innovators Lab Fund. She was the founder and CEO of Unbound Concepts, acquired in 2017 by Certica Solutions. Katie’s experience as an entrepreneur from concept stage, to fundraising, scaling and exit gives her an unparalleled understanding of what early stage companies need to achieve success.
From Barclays you will have a dedicated point of contact in the Barclays Innovation programmes team which is led by Sonal Lakhani. The team is highly experienced in driving Fintech partnerships and continue to support and scale a portfolio of over 200 companies that have passed through Barclays targeted Fintech initiatives. The Innovation programmes team help navigate Barclays to develop collaboration opportunities with startups to build new services and products for Barclays and their clients. Barclays Principal investments, led by Kester Keating, also supports the fund and portfolio companies with advice on scaling and fundraising with their experience as early stage and growth investors. Kester also sits on the fund advisory committee.
In order to provide extensive support for founders, FIL offers a dedicated venture studio platform team including expertise in talent, marketing, product, tech, operations and more.
Why Anthemis, Barclays and Aviva?
Since 2010, Anthemis has grown to include a diversified portfolio of 190+ best-in-class, high-growth, digitally native financial services companies based around the world. Anthemis’ full-stack platform invests across all stages of growth from pre-seed to IPO. Anthemis’ unique platform combines the expertise and services of in-house strategic operators with a global ecosystem of financial institutions, influencers, regulators and thought-leaders to help founders grow their companies quickly and innovate within the financial system.
Barclays is a British Bank with a global footprint. A household name in the UK with its consumer banking and payments operations, Barclays also has a strong global corporate and investment banking presence in both the United Kingdom and internationally. Barclays recognizes the importance of partnering with fintechs to drive innovation in their products and services. They have a robust fintech offering including Rise, a global community of top fintechs, physical co-working spaces in London and New York, investment through their Principal Investments business and dedicated fintech programs to drive collaboration between fintechs and the Bank.
Aviva is the world's leading Insurance, Wealth and Retirement business, helping 18.5 million customers in the UK, Ireland and Canada. Aviva invests deeply in their people, customers, society and the planet. They're here to be with people today, as well as working for a better tomorrow. Innovation is central to Aviva's strategy and their ambition to deliver great outcomes for customers. Additionally, Aviva Ventures provides expertise, global reach, and resources to help entrepreneurs scale.
Where did the idea for the Female Innovators Lab Fund come from?
In addition to investing in early stage fintech companies, Anthemis has had its own venture studio since 2014, building businesses on a discretionary basis as well as with outside partners. Anthemis’ commitment to women in fintech, however, has been a part of its DNA since the firm was founded by former Barclays executive Amy Nauiokas and her co-founder, Sean Park. Additionally, Barclays and Anthemis became natural partners in 2019 developing a solution to remove some of the key growth barriers of access to capital and support for female fintech founders, with the hope this will drive a more diverse set of products and services that Barclays can collaborate with to appeal to a wider audience.
Why do we have a fund and studio for fintech female founders?
In 2021, only 2.4 percent of all venture capital dollars went to female founders according to an analysis by Pitchbook. In fintech, female founders raised .9 percent of venture capital dollars according to Crunchbase. FIL intends to set female founders up for success by providing access to capital, ecosystem and resources and recognizes that diverse founders are fundamental to developing tech solutions that will build a more inclusive future.
Meet the team
Barclays Innovation team
Sonal Lakhani, Global Head of Fintech Innovation Programmes and Strategic Initiatives, View Sonal’s LinkedIn profile.
Barclays Principal Investments team
Amy Nauiokas, Founder & CEO of Anthemis Group and the Executive Sponsor of the Female Innovators Lab. View Amy’s LinkedIn profile.