Charlotte leaders unite to create ‘world-leading ecosystem for innovation and collaboration’ for local startups

The initiative will help identify startups and innovators and connect them to corporate clients who need to solve big challenges.
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:14 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte’s financial technology and healthtech leaders are uniting to launch what they are calling a game-changer for the Queen City.

Carolina Fintech Hub (CFH) is partnering with MassChallenge (MC) to create “The Meta Lab”. The initiative will help identify startups and innovators and connect them to corporate clients who need to solve big challenges.

The Meta Lab is described as a “daring, forward-thinking” collaboration among city leaders in fintech and healthtech to cultivate a world-leading ecosystem for innovation and collaboration.

LendingTree, EY, Movement Mortgage, Truist, Barings, MassChallenge and Carolina Fintech Hub are all a part of this collaboration.

“Over the last 5 years Charlotte has become known as a global fintech destination, and the Meta Lab is the next chapter in that story of inspiring growth,” says Tariq Bokhari, founder of the Carolina Fintech Hub. “It’s hard to focus in on any one aspect to describe why the Meta Lab will be such a game-changer for Charlotte, from uniting 2 of our major industries at the intersection of health and wealth, to taking a new approach to achieving diversity and inclusion outcomes. I’m most excited about this being a first-of-its-kind approach to recruiting fintech and healthtech companies and jobs to the Carolinas.”

The new creation is aimed at bringing entrepreneurs and startups to Charlotte.

Leaders say they collectively have created a “lab for labs” - an opportunity for several different innovations to happen at the same time in a setting designed to be a catalyst for innovation.

“One of the most important milestones for a startup is landing their first enterprise customer, especially in regulated industries like finance and healthcare,” says MassChallenge CEO Siobhan Dullea. “Meanwhile, corporate leaders are learning that the fastest way to solve big challenges is to partner with a startup. These corporate-startup collaborations are a win-win. MassChallenge is excited to bring our proven methodology to this competition to foster new economic growth.”

Once identified, these startups will have an opportunity to collaborate directly with CFH anchor partners, as well as have opportunities to gain strategic insights and their share of an equity-free ‘innovation prize pool’ made possible by EY, Movement Mortgage, and LendingTree.

Leaders say later phases of the Meta Lab include further opportunities for business development, pilots, capital investments, and in some cases even acquisition.

“The thing that makes the Meta Lab so unique is that it truly covers almost all of the things we know entrepreneurs focus on the most,” says Doug Lebda, founder of LendingTree. “This will serve as a pipeline for the best startups, as well as a way to conduct diligence and testing to ensure that their product is ready for prime time, and then provide the underlying marketplace where they can ‘fail fast’, learn, pivot, adapt, and take their business to the next level in half the time it would take on their own, all while placing an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.”

Applications open Oct. 20 and close Nov. 10 at 12 p.m. EST.

Entrepreneurs can apply from anywhere in the world.

Winning applications will be selected based on their potential for impact in the Challenge areas for each of the participating sponsors.

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