Morgan Stanley

Multicultural Innovation Lab

Our in-house startup accelerator promotes financial inclusion and provides access to capital for early stage technology and technology-enabled companies led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs.

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By specifically catering to high-growth multicultural and women entrepreneurs, the Multicultural Innovation Lab presents a unique opportunity for disruptive startups to increase their visibility, accelerate their business and achieve success.
Carla Harris Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, and Co-Head of the Multicultural Innovation Lab

Our Mission

In our 2018 survey, investors reported capitalizing multicultural and women-owned businesses at 80% less than businesses overall, and our research shows this translates into roughly $4.4 trillion in missed opportunity. The Multicultural Innovation Lab, part of our Multicultural Client Strategy Group, is here to change that. Launched in 2017 to promote financial inclusion and provide founders of tech and tech-enabled startups with much-needed access to investors—along with the tools, resources and connections they need to grow and thrive—the Lab’s mission is nothing less than to transform the investing landscape.

Key Stats

Accepting application through April 27th, 2021

About the Program

Curated Curriculum

The Lab customizes a curriculum for each startup, including finance & sales strategy, marketing & branding, and private sessions with industry experts.

Mentorship That Makes a Difference

Morgan Stanley pairs each startup with hand-picked mentors who provide advice and counsel to help each company grow and scale its business.

Powerful Networks

We introduce startups to our bankers, financial advisors, technology experts and others who can connect each company to their industry networks. We also give them access to potential clients and the investor ecosystem at large.

Showcase and Demo Day

Our five-month program culminates with a Demo Day during which all participants can present to a network of investors, potential business partners and customers, who could help take their companies to the next level.

2021 Cohort

ABF Creative

A B2C podcast network that produces original and multicultural focused podcasts for diverse audiences.

View ABF Website

Abode Technologies

A nationwide real estate platform that allows property sellers to easily list, market, and sell their homes at a flat fee.

View Abode Technologies Website

Cognitive ToyBox

An early childhood learning assessment platform that combines in-person observation with research-driven game-based assessments to evaluate students for kindergarten readiness and support early childhood development.

View Cognitive ToyBox Website

Elly Health

A digital health care app which helps chronically ill patients manage their illness and improve their quality of life with motivational messages, exercise videos, meditation practices, symptom management, clinician classes and patient stories.

View Elly Health Website

Fashion Bomb Daily Shop

A fashion marketplace that sells pieces designed by multicultural designers to multicultural customers.

View Fashion Bomb Daily Shop Website


A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) focused SaaS platform that delivers companies clear metrics to diagnose, prioritize, and optimize DEI efforts.

View Kanarys Website

Lillii RNB

A boutique IT consultancy whose signature software product “Freeing Returns” enables retailers to seamlessly integrate their point of sale systems with return management applications, saving both time and money. 

View Lillii RNB Website

Second Keys

A property management platform that enables property managers and tenants to seamlessly facilitate rent payments, track maintenance requests, and communicate real time, in order to keep tenants happy and save costs. 


View Second Keys Website

Support Pay

A payment platform that enables parents who live apart to manage child support and share expenses directly with each other.

View Support Pay Website

Virtual i Technologies

A risk underwriting analytics platform that allows insurers and brokers to have real time visual data and professional assessment on inspection properties without having to travel.

View Virtual i Technologies Website


A relationship based lending application that simplifies loans between friends, family and trusted relationships with automatic ACH loan payments. 

View Zirtue Website

Team Leadership

Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor

Ms. Harris is Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm. Her 30-year career includes extensive industry experience executing many large initial public offerings, as well as one of the largest biotechnology common stock transactions in U.S. history. She has been named to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America".

Read Carla's Story Listen to Carla's Podcast, Access & Opportunity

Alice Vilma, Managing Director and Co-Head of the Multicultural Innovation Lab

Ms. Vilma has been at Morgan Stanley for more than 15 years and has over 20 years of investment banking, capital markets, structured finance and investing experience, executing over $25 billon of securitization, structured finance and equity transactions. She graduated cum laude with a B.B.A. in Finance from the University of Miami and received her MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Read Alice's Story

The Lab Experience



Frequently Asked Questions



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Background and Basics


What is the Multicultural Innovation Lab?

The Multicultural Innovation Lab is an intensive five-month accelerator designed to help further develop and scale startups, culminating in a Demo Day and showcase presentation to the investor community.

When and why was the Lab started?

Morgan Stanley launched the MCIL in 2017 in order to address inequities in funding of multicultural and women-led startups, which our research shows totals more than a trillion dollars.

Who leads the Lab team?

Our team is led by Vice Chair and Managing Director Carla Harris and Managing Director Alice Vilma. Together, they have had over 50 years of equity syndicate, investment banking, capital markets and structured finance experience.

Where is the Lab based?

The Lab is based in our office at 522 Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Contact Us

For additional questions, please email us and we’ll get back to you shortly!

Application Details


Who is eligible?

The ideal candidate will meet the following criteria:

  • Is a multicultural or woman founder, co-founder, CTO or other C-suite member.
  • Has a founded a technology or technology-enabled startup that falls within the Seed to Series B funding round stage.
  • Has launched product with demonstrated revenues that validate the initial business model and market opportunity.

Do I have to live in or relocate to NYC to participate? How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the onsite aspect of the program?

We believe that the value of our program lies in part with the relationships built among the cohort and with the broader Morgan Stanley community. In the past, this required all participants to be on site in our offices at 522 Fifth Avenue in New York City for the duration of the program. However, to ensure the health and safety of all members of our program and community, all Lab activities and events are now remote. We will continue to operate remotely, as long as it is prudent and responsible to do so, with the intent to return to in-person programming as soon as possible.

When are applications open?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. We encourage interested applicants to apply early due to limited space and high application volume.

While we aren’t currently accepting applications, the application period for the next cohort will be open in late winter. Please sign up to be notified when applications open. 

Do I have to lead a FinTech company in order to apply?

No. We look for technology or technology-enabled startups across a variety of sectors.

When will I hear back about my application?

We aim to target contacting applicants with next steps within one month after their application is submitted.

I’ve applied to the MCIL before. Can I apply again?

We absolutely welcome repeat applications and encourage previous applicants to keep in touch.

Contact Us

For additional questions, please email us and we’ll get back to you shortly!

What You Can Expect

Does Morgan Stanley invest financially in companies that participate in the Lab?

Yes. Morgan Stanley contributes $250,000 to each participating company in exchange for an equity stake.

What does the curriculum cover?

The curriculum is tailored to suit each individual cohort, but it generally includes such topics as branding your startup, developing your investor pitch, refining your value prop and devising effective finance and sales strategies. In addition, we offer participants the opportunity to meet with industry experts for one-on-one consultations.

What kind of mentorship will I receive from Morgan Stanley?

We pair each company with a Morgan Stanley mentor chosen specifically for their relevant expertise. Your mentor communicates with you regularly and can provide advice and counsel on company growth and scaling your business.

Will I be introduced to investors during my time at the Lab?

Morgan Stanley leverages its broad network of clients and investors on behalf of its Lab cohorts, making introductions and connections that aim to grow and scale each company’s business.

What is Demo Day?

Demo Day culminates the five-month Lab program, with each founder pitching to an audience of potential investors and clients.

Does the Lab team support its portfolio companies after the program is over?

Yes, we stay in contact with former participants and follow their successes, continuing to offer advice and support as needed.

Contact Us

For additional questions, please email us and we’ll get back to you shortly!

Accepting application through April 27th, 2021