International law firm Cooley has partnered with Tech Nation’s growth programme for underrepresented founders, Libra, to support and promote diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and racial justice in the UK tech sector.
Cooley brings extensive experience and expertise from its own DEI initiatives and partnerships, including its DEI Action Plan launched in 2020, and industry partnerships aimed at creating more profitable and equitable tech and venture capital communities, primarily in the US.
As the first programme of its kind in the UK for tech scaleup leadership teams with at least one Black or multi-racial founder, the Libra programme aims to provide access to capital, commercial opportunities and professional networks to Black entrepreneurs who may face barriers and biases in these areas.
Cooley’s partnership will offer the 30 cohort companies on the programme – most of which are seed, pre-seed or yet to raise their first funding rounds – practical guidance on securing institutional investment.
For the Libra programme, this support goes beyond standard advice on fundraising. A 2020 report produced by Extend VC and Impact X with Tech Nation highlighted that between 2009 and 2019, only 38 Black entrepreneurs in the UK received venture capital funding.
Some of Cooley’s ecosystem partnerships include: UK-based non-profit Diversity VC, which promotes diversity in venture capital contexts through networks, recruitment and analysis; BLCK VC which connects and empowers Black venture capitalists; Launch with GS Entrepreneur Cohort, an eight-week program for Black and Latinx founders as part of Goldman Sachs’ $500 million diversity investment strategy.
Chris Coulter, a London-based Cooley partner and member of the firm’s Diversity Committee, commented: “With underrepresented founders facing a historic lack of access and a significant lack of diversity within venture capital, we are excited to partner with Libra as they drive change around how capital is allocated and accessed.”
The Libra programme launched in September 2021 and is centered around themed insight sessions delivered by established entrepreneurs, covering topics such as raising series A, selling into corporates, scaling operations and expanding internationally.
Over six months, the 30 cohort companies also receive more than 60 hours of support and receive mentoring from world-leading scale coaches on fundamental growth challenges – from fundraising to international expansion.
Abi Mohamed, Tech Nation’s Libra programme lead, said: “I’m excited to be working closely with Cooley on the Libra programme. I am confident Cooley’s contribution will help underrepresented founders on their growth journey and provide vital support for these companies to take with them long after they complete the programme.
“As an international law firm, Cooley’s experience promoting equality and diversity in a range of contexts strongly aligns with the aims and values of the Libra programme.”