Innovation Quarter News

Venture Café chosen to lead new minority- and women-owned business accelerator at Bailey Power Plant

Wexford Science & Technology, LLC and the Innovation Quarter today announced Venture Café Winston-Salem as the leader of a new minority- and women owned business accelerator to be located in Bailey Power Plant. Venture Café will partner with Piedmont Business Capital to provide support, training and access to funding for local businesses and entrepreneurs.

“Venture Café Global has excelled at advancing inclusive innovation across the country, and we are extremely fortunate to have Venture Café Winston-Salem carrying that flag in our community,” says Will Partin, senior director of development for Wexford Science & Technology. “This partnership will provide truly impactful services, mentorship, and opportunities to entrepreneurs and businesses run by women and people of color.”

Under the initiative, Wexford will provide $200,000 in funding support to Venture Café over a two-year term, in addition to 1,400 to 1,600 square feet of additional office space inside the Bailey Power Plant.

“Together with Piedmont Business Capital, our two organizations are deeply committed to delivering a first-class experience through the center that will provide certification training, access to funding, entrepreneurial resources, business matching and more to people of color and women in Winston Salem,” said Karen Barnes, Executive Director of Venture Cafe Winston Salem.

The aim of the accelerator will be to encourage, support and spark local small businesses and start-ups founded by women and minorities. Venture Café’s mission is to broaden, connect, and support the innovation community through public spaces and programs to help anyone with an idea succeed, making the non-profit an ideal fit to lead the new initiative.

An independent advisory council, led by former Winston-Salem city council member and current state representative Derwin Montgomery, reviewed applications from several non-profits to lead the accelerator and made its decision based on the merits of each response and the council’s assessment of the business acceleration opportunities presented by each program.

“This initiative for minority and women-owned businesses is another step to ensure that the economy of the future in Winston-Salem is an inclusive one,” said Montgomery. “I am excited to see increased collaboration and innovation occurring daily in the Bailey Power Plant as Venture Café takes on this new challenge, one in which they are uniquely positioned to help the city address. I look forward to seeing the diversity of the businesses that will grow due to this effort.”

The program will be housed in the Innovation Suites at Turbine Hall, part of the Bailey Power Plant, which opened in February. The Innovation Suites now house several startups and companies, as well as the operations and Thursday Gatherings of Venture Café Winston-Salem.