Conscious Venture Lab/SHIFT Ventures Announce Call for Applications

The Conscious Venture Lab/SHIFT Ventures opens call for applications to our new program in Innovation Village. At the Lab @ Innovation Village we will accelerate companies focused on urban resilience and smart cities technologies. Deadline for Enrollment in new cohort of purpose driven entrepreneurs is June 16, 2017.  

BALTIMORE, MD, May 1, 2017 – Conscious Venture Lab the Accelerator of the David B. Wolfe Institute for Conscious Entrepreneurship, in partnership with SHIFT Ventures and the Conscious Venture Fund is opening its next application round to entrepreneurs from around the country. Unlike previous years this years’ cohort will have an industry focus on companies solving problems of urban resilience and smart cities technology.

Up to ten companies will be selected for the new cohort. The Conscious Venture Fund will invest $50,000 in each of the businesses. Applications are being accepted via the Conscious Venture Lab website through June 16, 2017. The new Lab will be located in the newly created Innovation Village in West Baltimore. The Innovation Village is the first true innovation district established in Baltimore. Spanning the geographic area from Coppin State to MICA and from Mondawmin Mall to Martin Luther King, Jr.  Boulevard the goal of the Village is to create environment for leading-edge anchor institutions and large companies to cluster with startups, business incubators and accelerators to create more economic activity. The Conscious Venture Lab Urban Resilience/Smart Cities will commence in August 2017 and run through November.

Jeff Cherry, Executive Director of the Conscious Venture Lab said: “The theme of the next cohort will be Urban Resilience and Smart Cities.  We will be inviting companies focused on the way big data, connected devices, open systems, the Internet or Things (IoT), Blockchain and other technological and business model advances can be put to work and address chronic stresses which we see in our cities. Issues like high unemployment, overtaxed civic infrastructure, intractable violence, and food and water shortages are making city living continually more difficult. At the same time as a society we are increasingly returning to urban living. We will be looking for companies that can improve the way we provide services in cities, how we live together and find new ways to use technology to increase economic opportunity and create more livable and equitable urban environments.”

The Conscious Venture Lab is relocating into West Baltimore after being founded and operating for two years in Columbia, MD. “We are so very grateful to our friends at the Howard County Economic Development Authority and past County Executive Ken Ulman for helping us establish a foothold in Maryland to develop purpose-driven companies” said Cherry, who is also Chief Executive Officer SHIFT Ventures and The Porter Group, LLC the private investment firms that operate the program and provides funding to the companies. He continued to say; “This move into the Innovation Village allows us to strengthen our mission of supporting “Rise of the Rest” type communities and planting the seeds of prosperity in neighborhoods all over the City of Baltimore.”

“Initiatives like the Conscious Venture Lab represent an amazing opportunity to spread economic inclusion and prosperity throughout Baltimore City,” said Bill Cole, president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC). “BDC’s funding from the Baltimore Innovation Fund to aid the Conscious Venture Lab in its relocation will spur additional economic activity in West Baltimore.”

The Conscious Venture Lab is partnering with the Innovation Village District to renovate new co-working space at a prominent site within the district. “We are thrilled that the Conscious Venture Lab will be one of the initial programs to get underway in the Innovation Village District. This is a significant step in our vision to bring venture capital dollars, new businesses and a new job creation engine to West Baltimore” said Richard May, CEO of the Innovation Village District.

The Conscious Venture Lab in partnership with SHIFT Ventures, the venture-consulting arm of SHIFT (formerly entreQuest) runs an intense curriculum and mentor-driven program that supports companies and leaders who embrace the power of capitalism as a force for good in society. Cherry was an early adopter of the move towards investing in companies operating a multi-stakeholder management system.

The program provides entrepreneurs a foundation for building a company based on purpose, while also focusing on the tools and skills needed to build highly sustainable business models and high-performance cultures.

A few high profile graduates of the previous two cohorts of the Conscious Venture Lab are Hungry Harvest, a company on a mission to fight food waste and hunger in the US, which has increased it’s sales by a multiple of 10 over the last 12 months. And, Shea Radiance, a cosmetics company founded as a way to soothe eczema, which has turned into a high-end beauty brand working with women’s cooperatives in West Africa. It is represented in more than 100 retail outlets in the mid-Atlantic region.

The Conscious Venture Lab has teamed with some of the best thinkers and entrepreneurs from around the country to provide coaching and mentorship. They include: Ed Freeman, Academic Director of the Institute for Business in Society at the Darden School, University of Virginia; Professor Raj Sisodia, TEDx speaker and author of Firms of Endearment and Conscious Capitalism; and CEOs like Tom Gardner, CEO of the Motley Fool!

The Conscious Venture Lab has dedicated this endeavor to the late David B. Wolfe, a friend and mentor. David was co-author of Firms of Endearment: How World Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose.

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