Unum and The Company Lab launch Historically Black Colleges and Universities Innovation Challenge

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Employee benefits provider Unum (NYSE: UNM) and The Company Lab (CO.LAB) are partnering to host the 2019 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Innovation Challenge. The challenge invites juniors and seniors from HBCUs to work together to solve a real-world challenge facing the insurance industry, while exploring career opportunities at Unum.

Photo Credit: Unum

Unum and @thecompanylab are partnering to host a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Innovation Challenge for college juniors and seniors.

The HBCU Challenge will recruit 32 undergraduate students from HBCUs within 250 miles of Unum’s home office locations in Baton Rouge, La.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Columbia, S.C. Selected students will participate in a two-day innovation case competition hosted at Unum’s headquarters in Chattanooga Oct. 24-25.

“This program gives high-performing, talented students the opportunity to solve real business problems, while gaining exposure to the employee benefits industry,” said Wade Hinton, vice president of Inclusion and Diversity at Unum. “It’s also a great way for us to identify potential talent.”

Wade HInton, VP of Inclusion and Diversity at Unum

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CO.LAB has organized several fast-paced competitions focused on building talent pipelines. Last March, the organization partnered with local startup FreightWaves to produce a case competition that brought college students from supply chain programs across the country, with intentions to connect with the region’s leading freight and logistics startups.

Photo Credit: Co.Lab

“We’re excited to combine our talent development experience with Unum’s leadership and knowledge in their field,” said Marcus Shaw, chief executive officer of CO.LAB. “I believe by the end of the event we will see students not only take away a great learning experience but also new relationships that could impact their career trajectory.”

Marcus Shaw, CEO of Teh Company Lab

Photo Credit: The Company Lab

Students selected to join the challenge have the chance to gain recognition and win cash prizes including $5,000 for the first-place team, $3,000 for the second-place team and $1,500 for the third-place team. Students interested in participating can apply at Nominations are open now through Sept. 13.

Photo Credit: The Company Lab

This event marks the second collaboration this year between Unum and CO.LAB. This spring, in partnership with Unum and Erlanger, CO.LAB launched its inaugural HealthTech Accelerator focused on connecting emerging healthcare startups with leaders in the healthcare and employee benefits industries.


Unum Group is a leading provider of financial protection benefits in the United States and the United Kingdom and the leading provider of disability income protection in the world. Its businesses are Unum US, Colonial Life, Unum UK, and Unum Poland. Unum’s portfolio includes disability, life, accident and critical illness, dental and vision coverage, which help protect millions of working people and their families in the event of an illness or injury. Unum also provides stop-loss coverage to help self-insured employers protect against unanticipated medical costs. The company reported revenues of $11.6 billion in 2018, and provided $7.2 billion in benefits.

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The Company Lab (CO.LAB) is a nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurial growth in southeast Tennessee. Established as the region’s front door for entrepreneurs, CO.LAB works to increase the viability of startups and strengthen the ecosystem of support behind them. In doing so, the organization helps entrepreneurs refine their business models, test their ideas with customers, pursue capital and partnerships, and connect with a community of mentors, peers and business experts. Additionally, CO.LAB works to create environments that inspire entrepreneurial activity, open doors within the business community and promote job creation. The companies CO.LAB supports range from street-corner mom and pop shops to tech startups scaling into major markets. To learn more, visit


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