The Meta Lab to benefit from new law, partners as it seeks applicants – Charlotte Business Journal – Charlotte Business Journal

The Meta Lab, a Charlotte fintech and health-tech accelerator program, now has more tools to help it achieve its mission of growing the region’s tech industry.
Since launching on Oct. 13, the Meta Lab — a collaboration between Carolina Fintech Hub and MassChallenge — will benefit from three new features that will enhance the program and help participating startups achieve successful outcomes.
The first is the “sandbox bill,” which was signed into law by N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper on Oct. 15. The new law offers temporary tests of financial or insurance products and services for consumers without being subject to certain licensing or regulatory obligations.
“This bill would keep North Carolina as a regional and national leader for business by encouraging companies with innovative finance and insurance products to test them right here in North Carolina,” said Jordan Roberts, government affairs associate for the John Locke Foundation, in a news release. “The sandbox approach ensures the right balance of consumer choice and protection.”
Additionally, Charlotte universities are joining the Meta Lab initiative.
The School of Data Science and UNC Charlotte will be a guiding force for the companies coming to Charlotte. The startups would have an opportunity to engage with their experts, while students can get real-work experience in helping the companies. 
“As the first school of data science in the Carolinas, we are uniquely positioned to join this exploratory mission with the Meta Lab,” said Doug Hague, executive director of the School of Data Science at UNC Charlotte. “As the top innovations in fintech and health tech from around the world start to pour into Charlotte, we look forward to investigating our ways our students and faculty can serve as data science and primary advisors to the portfolio companies.”
Terik Tidwell, executive director of Smith Tech-Innovation Center at Johnson C. Smith University, said the Meta Lab will also provide growing opportunities that can engage their applied research and analytical capabilities to further the state’s economic growth.
Lastly, the Meta Lab is expanding its reach outside of the city and bringing on Live Oak Bank’s Wilmington partners, Canapi Venutres and Apiture. Canapi and Apiture will be providing capital to the startups.
“Continuous innovation is critical for financial institutions and central to Apiture’s industry leading digital banking solutions,” said Apiture CEO Chris Babcock in the release. “We look forward to the Meta Lab providing us with a front row seat to the next generation and the opportunity to evaluate future partnerships.”
Earlier this month, Carolina Fintech Hub announced its partnership with Boston-based MassChallenge to push the growth of Charlotte’s tech industry through the Meta Lab initiative. Selected startups will help find solutions to challenge areas identified by partnering companies, which include Truist Financial Corp., Barings and Atrium Health.
The Barings investment team currently generates both structured and unstructured content across emails, network drives and documents that help make investment decisions. The challenge for startups is to find a solution to efficiently create, organize, search and integrate content across the Barings teams to drive better business insight.
Truist identified two challenges — create an end-to-end digital insurance solution and leverage blockchain technology to create a Truist data asset.
Atrium Health is looking for a solution compatible to its current system that will organize data and provide proactive patient communication through developing health recommendations and “nudging” patients to act.
Barings, Truist and Atrium all have shared challenges of building trust and addressing economic and health inequities.
The startups accepted into the Meta Lab program will go through implementation, scaling, business development, acquisitions and finding opportunities to deploy capital in Phase 2. The program will take place in Charlotte, where leaders will work on recruiting these businesses to the Queen City.
“The Meta Lab Startup Challenge powered by MassChallenge combines the power of innovation and entrepreneurship by fostering collaborations between corporate partners and startups,” said Siobhan Dullea, MassChallenge CEO, in a press release. “This competition can put innovative technology startups in front of three world class organizations to help them solve their most pressing challenges.”
The Meta Lab is accepting applications through Nov. 10. Applicants will be selected based on their potential for impact in the challenge areas for each of the participating sponsors.
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