CIC Selects Eight Local Minority-Owned Startups for its Massachusetts Social Impact Program

The Massachusetts Social Impact Program cohort members pose for a group photo at CIC Cambridge
  • As part of its DEI initiatives, CIC created its Social Impact Program to support entrepreneurs from historically underserved communities and is expanding this program to Massachusetts in partnership with the White House
  • Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, this program will prepare underserved entrepreneurs to secure capital from the historic $10 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) and other capital sources
  • This program is one of only 43 nationwide awardees of the $125 million technical assistance program, and the only program running in Massachusetts  

CAMBRIDGE & BOSTON, MASS. –  CIC builds and operates a global network of innovation campuses where the world’s leading technology startups and innovation-focused businesses call home, and many industry leaders such as Hubspot and Android grew to prominence. As part of its DEI initiatives, CIC created its Social Impact Program to bring new pathways to entrepreneurship for diverse leaders by leveraging its vast experience building and connecting the innovation ecosystem. In August 2023, CIC announced plans to expand its Social Impact Program to Massachusetts in partnership with the White House. 

Today, following a rigorous selection process, CIC is proud to announce the eight selected startups to participate in the Massachusetts Social Impact Program. Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), this program is purpose-built to support entrepreneurs from historically underserved communities who are working to revolutionize industries including real estate, edtech, drug discovery, health and beauty, and more. 

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’s initial announcement of the MBDA Capital Readiness Program in August 2023 underscores the government’s dedication to supporting underserved entrepreneurs. As part of this initiative, CIC is at the forefront of empowering minority-owned businesses to access the resources needed to grow in today’s competitive market and ensure prosperity is within reach for all entrepreneurs.

“As a global company and network, CIC believes the best, world-changing ideas come from diversity. The past year has been challenging for all entrepreneurs amid a cooling market, but perhaps disproportionally more for underrepresented founders. It means a lot to us that we can provide a platform for these entrepreneurs to thrive,” said Stacey Messier, General Manager of New England, CIC. “Through tailored resources, mentorship, and access to CIC’s global network, we aim to equip them with the tools they need to succeed at every stage of their entrepreneurial journey. Through the Massachusetts Social Impact Program, we are proud to champion the next generation of diverse leaders who will shape the future of business and drive meaningful change in their communities.”

The selected startups, hailing from the Greater Boston area and across Massachusetts, embody resilience, creativity, and a determination to drive positive change in their respective fields. From AI-driven solutions to drug discovery and inclusion in health and beauty, each participant brings a unique perspective and passion to the cohort. 

This initial cohort selection includes the following startups:

  • CircNova: CircNova is an early stage deep biotechnology company addressing drug discovery challenges by combining AI, cutting-edge scientific innovation, and modern drug development techniques to develop non-coding circular RNAs to program cells for treating unmet medical needs and previously undrugged diseases.
  • Coils to Locs: Coils to Locs is a social impact, for-profit business filling a gap neglected by the major U.S. wig distributors supporting the lucrative hair loss industry: The lack of availability of premium, coily, curly, culturally-sensitive wigs, (hair prosthesis) targeting Black women experiencing medical and non-medical hair loss.
  • Ethos Admissions: Ethos Admissions is where college readiness meets community building. Through small group cohorts, Ethos Admissions aims to create social impact and genuine college readiness through thoughtfully designed programs for both individual and collective success.
  • InvestAtHome: Investing At Home is the go-to platform for democratized alternative investments, where anyone, regardless of their financial background, can explore and invest in a wide range of assets. By integrating community building and influencer engagement into the investment process, Investing At Home aims to create a dynamic, supportive ecosystem that not only facilitates financial growth but also fosters learning and collaboration among its users.
  • RequestFOIA: RequestFOIA is a digital transformation company that caters to government agencies and public sector clients in need of workflow based public records software applications.
  • SplitBrick: Own, control, and diversify your real estate investments with just $1. It’s the modern way to invest in property, your way!
  • ThrivelEP: ThriveIEP is changing how parents and educators manage the special education process, empowering them with a robust platform that provides generative AI-driven insights, information, and assistance—ultimately improving education outcomes for kids. Their unprecedented dataset will transform into insights and actions that change policy and practice at systemic and local levels.
  • Yoku AI: Yoku combines expertise in human perception with cutting-edge computer vision and AI technology to predict the visibility of content when viewed peripherally. It uses this innovative blend of AI and vision science to help inform critical design choices. 

The selected cohort members will each benefit from complimentary membership to CIC’s Innovation Campuses in Massachusetts, helping foster an environment conducive to collaboration and growth. Additionally, participants will receive access to a comprehensive suite of programming, educational resources, and one-on-one mentorship tailored to their specific needs and aspirations.

The Massachusetts Social Impact Program builds upon CIC’s longstanding commitment to social responsibility and community engagement. By leveraging the expertise garnered from operating similar programs nationwide, CIC continues to champion inclusivity and innovation in the entrepreneurial landscape.

To learn more about CIC’s Social Impact Program, visit our website

About CIC

CIC builds and operates a global network of innovation campuses where startups, scale-ups, corporations and public entities connect, work, and grow. Founded in 1999, CIC manages more than 1.2 million square feet of innovation-focused workspace, laboratories, and event space across North America, Europe and Asia. Additionally, CIC develops innovation-related programming, builds and enables industry clusters, and provides world-class innovation consulting. 

Learn more about CIC’s innovation campuses featuring workspace & labs, programming, and events at Follow along on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook

This press release was prepared by CIC using Federal funds under award MB23OBD0340313 from the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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