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The Milky Way Tech Hub aims to create a narrative that Milwaukee and its surrounding communities are the most diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem in the nation. Through venture pitch events, community online workshops, and a concierge accelerator. The Milky Way Tech Hub is already attracting national and international entrepreneurs to Milwaukee in addition to the local talent already here. The Milky Way Tech Hub’s goal is to use its resources and programs to turn these relationships into opportunities and jobs for our diverse citizenry.

To that end, the Milky Way Tech Hub is launching a tech fund in partnership with IP Zone Company, a New York-based spinout of American Express, to provide the level of capital that tech companies need to help them reach successful exits. We have begun to circle money in an effort to reach out goal of raising $50 million this year.

The fund will target scalable tech companies that have substantial intellectual property and a willingness to relocate or invest and partner with Milwaukee and its citizens. Importantly, the Milky Way Tech Hub commits to investing in Black founders, people of color (POC), women, and other underrepresented demographics.

Several tech companies in the 5G, AI, and Internet of Things spaces have granted exclusive rights to the fund and recently a top 5 automotive company has agreed to invest. This new endeavor requires strategic collaboration at the city and private capital in a way that will benefit an inclusive group of entrepreneurs. Our partnership with the American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact has helped to generate momentum around the efforts to build out a tech ecosystem that reflects Milwaukee’s diverse population.

We believe education will be critical to this mission and it is why the Milky Way Tech hub has dedicated significant resources to building a world-class, competency-based innovation and intellectual property training program that will be available to ecosystem participants.

Of course, while bold ideas and commitment are great, significant capital is necessary to effectuate real change. We believe the success of our effort will be greatly enhanced with substantial support and resources for startups from our corporate partners and our city and state governments. Capital is at the top of the list.

Currently, Milwaukee is home to the 53206 ZIP code, which has the unenviable distinction of owning the highest incarceration rate for Black men of any locale in America. That same ZIP code has also been labeled as the worst place for Black people to live and raise children. We believe these heartbreaking labels make it clear that now is the time to invest in a complete narrative shift for the city of Milwaukee.

The Milky Way Tech Hub believes that on a level playing field where there is equal access to capital and resources, technology, and innovation can serve as vehicles to improve the socio-economic conditions in our urban areas. While technology now plays a role in almost every aspect of daily life and business, according to a study led by Silicon Valley Bank, only 1% of Black businesses are backed by venture capital further widening the digital divide and the vast economic disparities that presently exist.

All individuals or organizations that are interested in supporting this effort should reach out to Nadiyah Johnson, CEO and Founder of Jet Constellations at [email protected] or submit their information using this form.

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