As the FinTech ecosystem grows in complexity and enrichment with technological advancements, banks and corporations rush to seize the opportunity to harvest the best solutions available. Innovation hunters have been looking for opportunities in different ways, one of which is to set an accelerator/incubator, innovation lab or some sort of a startup program. Let’s look at some of the interesting FinTech-focused programs operating around the world:
Flat6Labs, in cooperation with Barclays Bank Egypt, has opened the doors for participation in its one-of-a-kind 1864 Accelerator Program launched for the first time in the Egyptian market. 1864 Accelerator aims to qualify a new generation of entrepreneurs in Egypt through the adoption of creative ideas that can open up new opportunities in financial technology.
The 3D FinTech Challenge is a seven-week, immersive accelerator program designed to empower and accelerate technological innovation within financial services. It is a key element of Dassault Systèmes’ drive to bring accelerated technological, customer-centric innovation to the financial services industry. Dassault Systèmes and Deutsche Börse do not take equity from the startups. Senior executives from Dassault Systèmes’ and leading figures from financial services provide on-going mentoring throughout the program whilst master classes are given by domain experts.
500 Startups is one of the world’s leading global venture capital seed funds and startup accelerators managing $200 million in assets, having invested in 1300+ technology startups. In January, the accelerator launched a FinTech-exclusive batch comprised of eight companies. 500 Startups has actively been investing in financial services startups such as Credit Karma, WePay, Simple (acquired by BBVA), ReadyForZero, FeeFighters (acquired by Groupon), Recurly, CoinPip, etc. They have also invested in eight bitcoin-related startups to date and they plan to invest in another 10–20 per year going forward.
Anthemis Foundry is a design-focused incubator of the Anthemis Group, an investment and advisory firm in the financial technology space. The incubator believes in focusing on some chosen projects at one time rather than selecting batches of startups with a fixed schedule. Some of its portfolio companies are Atom, Azimo, Betterment, Currency Cloud, Fidor Bank, Moven, etc.
In 2015, Worldpay US made a $1 million gift to the Georgia Institute of Technology to create a Financial Technology (FinTech) Program at the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). This initiative creates a unique program between a non-profit, university-based incubator and a major financial services company. The ATDC FinTech Program powered by Worldpay US is focused on building and growing companies in the state of Georgia. ATDC FinTech Program operates with goals to make Georgia the capital of FinTech startups, screen and accelerate a dedicated FinTech pipeline & accelerate innovation by bringing together startups, corporations, and investors.
Launched in 2013, the Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator is a Berlin-based accelerator looking for trailblazing digital entrepreneurs. The accelerator claims to provide global opportunities from day one through their international network in Europe and Silicon Valley. Three times a year, they run a three-month-long program in which startups are provided with office space in the heart of Berlin, coaching, workshops, networking, 25,000 euros, events and more. The program ends with the Demo Day, where startups will have the opportunity to pitch in front of an elite audience of local and international venture capital firms for additional seed and Series A funding. In addition, startups have the chance to meet Silicon Valley investors as well as go to Silicon Valley.
Bank of England FinTech Accelerator was launched in 2016 to work in partnership with FinTech firms on challenges that the bank faces. The accelerator will work with new technology firms to help the BoE to harness FinTech innovations for central banking. Partner firms will be selected to engage in short proof-of-concept projects (POCs) that are relevant to the bank’s mission with all commercial considerations being taken into account.
The Barclays Accelerator Program is a 13-week program in partnership with Techstars. Barclays provides tools, equipment and facilities for startups. In conjunction with Techstars, they provide dedicated mentorship for select startups and entrepreneurs. The accelerator program was initially launched in London and is now being run in London & New York.
Capital One Growth Labs in the UK is an accelerator program for early-stage startups and high-growth companies. The initiative, in partnership with corporate innovation specialist and tech investor L Marks, aims to discover innovative new businesses and give them cutting-edge support to develop technologies for the financial sector.
Citibank launched its first accelerator program in Tel Aviv in 2013. The four-month program was run three times and a total of 333 startups have participated in it till date. In December 2014, Citi Ventures partnered as the first Platinum-level Global Anchor Partner for Plug and Play to expand its FinTech Accelerator program to the US, Germany, Singapore and Spain. Citi has also launched “Citi Mobile Challenge,” a virtual accelerator program that combines a virtual hackathon with an incubator and is focused on the APAC region. Participants of the Citi Mobile Challenge are provided with a FinTech accelerator program that includes mentorship and a virtual and on-site boot camp curriculum.
Coin Apex is an NYC-based tech incubator that was born in fall of 2013 to give talented people a place to create and build cool things. Coin Apex helps to shape, develop and facilitate innovative ideas into full-on reality through the process of bringing technology companies, products and services to market. The incubator aims to encourage the forward motion of the FinTech ecosystem and help build the infrastructure needed to ensure sustainability of the emerging sectors of which it operates.
Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Mastercard have launched Commerce.Innovated, a four-month, bi-annual virtual accelerator designed to help seed-stage startups that are innovating in the commerce, payments and financial technology sectors to refine and scale their business ideas. The program offers access to operational and industry expertise from Silicon Valley Bank, Mastercard and their respective networks.
FinTech Innovation Lab provides a 12-week mentorship program in New York, London, Dublin and Asia-Pacific (in Hong Kong). The global program is run in partnership with Accenture and the Partnership Fund for New York City as a sponsor while they also have region-specific sponsors. The partners of the program in New York are Ally Financial, American Express, Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Guardian Life, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley, New York Life, UBS and Wells Fargo.
FinTech Innovation Lab by Intel and The Floor
Intel recently announced that it would launch a FinTech Innovation lab in collaboration with The Floor, a FinTech hub based at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. As reported by the Jerusalem Post, the venture “is aimed at identifying and developing technological innovations to upend and advance the global financial industry. Some of the technological focus will be devoted to blockchain (the technology behind crypto-currency bitcoin), the Internet of Things (IoT) and biometrics.”
Founder Institute (FI) is an early-stage incubator that has established its presence in 45 countries. It runs its incubator programs in multiple cities in these 45 countries. It also claims an 80% success rate for its startup graduates. Unlike many other incubators, FI takes a fee from applying graduates, profiles them and upon selection for the program; the founder needs to further pay some fees to attend the four-month program. The founders are required to contribute warrants of a certain percentage to the “shared liquidity pool,” 30% of which is shared with the graduates of the particular program. Some of the FinTech startups from this program are Peerby, RealtyMogul and Zipmark.
Based out of Geneva, FUSION is Switzerland’s FinTech accelerator. FUSION capitalizes on Switzerland’s position as a global hub for financial services as well as its world-beating reputation for innovation to drive the FinTech agenda. FUSION’s aim is to fuse the best of Switzerland with the most promising FinTech talent to lead innovation in financial services. Mentors are drawn from all areas of financial services, such as banking, insurance and commodity trading. The accelerator has an academic sponsorship from some of world’s top engineering research institutes and involvement from venture capital funds, which will syndicate funding.
iAccelerate is a University of Wollongong (UOW) business incubator program that helps entrepreneurs to build and grow businesses. iAccelerate is built around a robust educational program, formalized business acceleration monitoring and one-to-one mentoring.
iAccelerate offers innovative businesses the unique opportunity to partner with a university comprising over 30,000 students, 2,000 staff and a significant portfolio of faculties and business units. iAccelerate utilizes a multi-faceted approach to accelerating sustainable business growth to deliver the greatest economic impact. The accelerator offers a two-stream program with up to a three-year incubation period – unique in the Australian startup landscape.
Innotribe is supported by SWIFT and was launched in 2009. It organizes startup challenges every year spanning EMEA, the Americas and APAC. The 2015 Startup Challenge event was held in London, New York, Cape Town and Singapore. The event was open for both early-stage and growth-stage startups at each location. Winners at each location would be hosted at Sibos, Singapore for the Startup Challenge 2015 Finale. Early-stage startups are required to pitch their idea to a large audience of decision-makers of the financial services world while growth-stage startups would host exhibition booths and provide live demos for their products.
JPMorgan recently announced the launch of In-Residence, a program for FinTech startups to sit ‘side by side’ with its businesses in order to develop innovations that could revolutionize the sector, enabling banks to operate faster, safer and at a lower cost. Emerging FinTech companies that become residents will join the bank for six-month periods and have access to the bank’s facilities, systems and expertise. Residents will retain control of their innovations and may receive continued support from the bank even after the residency period in an effort to bring their solutions to market.
Launched in 2012, LAUNCHub has invested and committed 7.5 million euros in 60 startups from 10 countries in the SEE region, including Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Croatia, Greece, Slovenia, Ukraine, Austria and Switzerland. The LAUNCHub team works with the founders to provide assistance in many ways other than the investments granted. The fund offers startup teams access to a network consisting of experts, tech vendors, successful entrepreneurs and investors. On a strategic level, LAUNCHub is partnering with Seedcamp and Mozilla WebFWD. LAUNCHub operates under the Entrepreneurship Acceleration and Seed Financial Instrument of the JEREMIE initiative of the EIF and EC.
Level39 is one of Europe’s largest technology accelerators for finance, retail, cybersecurity and future cities technology companies. It was launched in 2012 with the aim of being the largest accelerator for the FinTech space. Recently, UBS had opened an innovation lab at Level39 to focus on blockchain and FinTech innovations. It has 513 individual members, of which 52% are from the UK. The 122 company members in the FinTech space are divided as follows: Data & Analytics: 42, Payments: 25, Crowdfunding: 25; Banking Solutions: 13; Trading: 9 and FX: 8.
Main Incubator was formed in 2013 and is run in partnership with Commerzbank in Germany. The program works by accepting invitations from startups. Upon selection, the terms and conditions are set for the startups to enter the program. After four to five months of the initial phase where the team starts building their product with the support (VC funding, office space, and expert know-how) from the incubator, the investment committee reviews the status and decides on further funding.
Mambu, the SaaS banking platform provider, launched its FinTech Startup Program, allowing companies to bring their innovative vision to market faster by leveraging the Mambu platform. The program is designed for startups that are part of selected accelerators and incubators that Mambu has partnered with. Mambu will enable these organizations to build their innovative consumer- or business-focused financing products (like lending and deposits) much faster and cheaper than building the technology fully in-house.
By participating in the program, startups can benefit from cost savings and faster time to market, allowing for the quick launch of new loan and deposit products with market opportunities being approached with minimal risk. The startups will be able to re-focus their engineering efforts on what differentiates them from the competition, better positioning them for growth and funding through the support of Mambu’s scalable core banking platform.
Plug and Play is one of the world’s largest global technology accelerator and venture funds. Since its inception in 2006, the program has expanded worldwide to include entrepreneurs from 24 countries, providing necessary resources to succeed in Silicon Valley. With over 350 startups and 300 corporate partners, the accelerator has created the ultimate startup ecosystem. Plug and Play provides active investments with 180 leading Silicon Valley VCs, and more than 365 networking events per year. Companies in their community have raised over $3.5 billion in funding, with successful portfolio exits including Danger, Dropbox, Lending Club, PayPal, SoundHound, and Zoosk.
QC FinTech Lab provides a 12-week intensive accelerator program with mentors from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Experian, etc. in addition to 12 months of free office space. The lab is based out of Charlotte.
Rise (Barclays Innovation Program)
Through its global network of connected sites in seven of the world’s top FinTech ecosystems (London, Manchester, New York, Vilnius, Cape Town, Tel Aviv, Mumbai), Rise delivers numerous programs that facilitate engagement between Barclays and the Rise community in order to solve some of the biggest challenges facing financial services. These programs foster long-term mutually beneficial relationships, designed to scale early prototypes and new business models into live products and services.
RFI is a for-profit entity that supports startups with hands-on strategic and tactical guidance. The accelerator helps startups with market validation and customer acquisition, provide access to corporate partners, and make seed investments. RFI is connected to The DMZ at Ryerson University, which has incubated more than 125 companies since its launch in 2010. Ryerson Futures helps drive the success of high-potential startups focused on innovative and marketing-changing technology.
The Scivantage FinTech Incubator Program aims to support and accelerate the launch of the next generation of financial technology products, enabling entrepreneurs and early-stage startups to drive a new era of financial services innovation. At the end of the 12-week incubator program, each of the selected entrepreneurs will present at the Scivantage Incubator Demo Day, where leading FinTech executives and investors will be in attendance.
Through a competitive process, promising entrepreneurs will be selected to participate in the incubator program during each cycle, with each receiving an investment of up to $25,000 in seed capital, sales, marketing and design support, mentorship from a diverse group of seasoned FinTech executives and entrepreneurs and Stevens faculty and more.
Seedcamp is a UK-based venture capital accelerator that offers seed funding to innovative European FinTech startups. Founded in 2007, Seedcamp holds onto its leadership position and helps startups to grow into high-value global companies. The accelerator team believes that even the best founders will increase their chances by drawing on Seedcamp’s Network of expertise across Europe, the US and beyond. Seedcamp network is over 1,000 strong and covers the key functions of product, branding, marketing, sales, biz dev, technology, legal, HR and finance. In addition, they have a network of over 500 Investors consisting of angels, VCs, corporates and crowdfunding platforms.
SIX Group FinTech Accelerator F10 in Zurich was launched in collaboration with FinTech startups to enrich the innovative FinTech ecosystem with dedicated staff, know-how, infrastructure and communities whose task is to drive further developments on Switzerland’s FinTech front and develop new technologies for SIX. The SIX Group is demonstrating its commitment to innovation with the Swiss FinTech Award. Award applicants have a chance at a cash prize and access to a complete FinTech ecosystem including boot camp, training and networking opportunities.
Backed by the St. Louis Regional Chamber and venture capital firm Cultivation Capital, SixThirty is a business development accelerator that invests up to $100,000 in a handful of FinTech startups each year. The companies selected to take part in the accelerator program receive hands-on training, mentoring, and networking opportunities with the top financial services companies in the region.
Startupbootcamp (SBC) is a global network of industry-focused accelerators. It helps startups to go global by giving them direct access to an international network of the most relevant partners, investors and mentors in their sector. Startupbootcamp started in 2010 and now operates globally with 11 accelerator programs and eight locations in Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Eindhoven, Istanbul, London, Barcelona, Miami, New York and Singapore.
The Startupbootcamp FinTech Accelerator has some notable sponsors for the local FinTech event: London (Mastercard, Lloyds Banking Group, Rabobank, PWC, Intesa Sanpaolo, Route 66 Ventures, Arvato Bertelsmann, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, MyOrder, Cognito, DLL Financial Solutions Partner and MJ Hudson), Singapore (Mastercard, Route 66 Ventures, Intesa Sanpaolo, Infocomm Investments, PWC, Jungle Ventures, Estellion, Pix Vine Capital and DBS).
Tech City UK provides a platform for digital technology businesses to be established in the UK. They provide support for startups, established businesses and budding entrepreneurs. As part of its goal to support new business idea/entrepreneurs, they have a program called ‘Digital Business Academy’ in partnership with Cambridge University Judge Business School, University College London and digital skills experts Founder Centric. They provide the know-how for a digital business that helps one to start, grow or join a digital business. Another program, Future Fifty, supports 50 UK-based companies to scale their business.
Techstars provides location-specific and function-specific accelerator programs. It also partners with other global accelerators to provide its expertise (e.g. Barclays London Accelerator). While it is not a pure play FinTech accelerator, they do host a lot of FinTech companies as part of their larger portfolio. (e.g. The Gone App, AppInside, Stagelink, Localytics, etc.). Some of its local sponsors are SAP, TaylorWessing, Lowe’s, Todd Walsh, TriNet, Baird, Kurtz Fargo LLP, Bryan Cave, Kendall Koenig & Oelsner PC, Foley & Ladner LLP, CBRE, Pritzker Group, Hyde Park Venture Partners, Lakewest Venture Partners, Fried Frank Technology, Google Cloud Platform, Orrick, Foley Hoag LLP, etc.
The Watson Centre at Marina Bay in Singapore by IBM is an incubator designed to bring together organizations of all sizes, business partners and IBM experts to co-create business solutions that leverage IBM’s cognitive, blockchain and design capabilities.
Watson Centre at Marina Bay will act as a center of expertise for almost 5,000 IBM cognitive solutions professionals in the Asia-Pacific region alone, including researchers, IBM Watson specialists, data scientists, software engineers, agile developers and analytics experts. It will also offer education, hackathons, and customized workshops for a broader ecosystem of innovators including software companies, startups, developers and systems integrators.
The mission of ValueStream is to accelerate the adoption of new technologies in the financial services industry. ValueStream fosters a community of customers, professionals, and investors, and partner with emerging technology-enabled financial services startups, with a strong focus on companies that target the Professional (B2P), Institutional (B2I), and Enterprise (B2B) spaces.
ValueStream’s process focuses on customer and product development. For companies that are past the ‘man with a plan’ stage, ValueStream combines a customer feedback and industry mentor-driven model to enable its portfolio companies to move beyond a working prototype into the sustainable customer base stage – typically in preparation for a growth inflection point.
VC FinTech Accelerator by FIS at the Venture Center
The VC FinTech Accelerator's 12-week rigorous program is designed to accelerate the growth of early-stage FinTech startups through detailed business development; compliance, regulatory, security and risk management guidance; technology development and specialized financial services content. In addition, it will work with portfolio companies to build a solid, investable model to support founders in seeking additional funding.
Wayra is a Telefónica’s startup accelerator that helps the best entrepreneurs grow and build successful businesses. Wayra’s accelerator program provides funding up to $50,000, an incredible place to work, mentors, business partners, access to a global network of talent and the opportunity to reach millions of Telefónica customers.
The Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator is a six-month program which is run twice a year. The 2015 event witnessed over 300 applications out of which three startups were selected: Bracket Computing, Context360 and MotionSavvy. Startups who have previously participated in the program include EyeVerify, Kasisto and Zumigo.
Y Combinator is a seed funding organization which invests small amounts in selected startups. They run two cycles every year, once from January–March and once from June–August. The three-month event ends with the Demo Day where startups present to an audience of global startup investors. While this is not a pure play FinTech accelerator, among the more than 800 startups that it has funded since 2005, around 7–8% (~60 companies) are from the FinTech space.
Yodlee provides Ynext as a six-month incubator for startups. The features that it provides are access to the Yodlee platform, guidance & assistance, participation in Silicon Valley boot camps, and a demo day to present the startup to select investors. Accredify, DRAFT, Evolved Bookkeeping, Fidor US, Roostify, Telito and Voatz are eight startups that were unveiled in their May 2015 demo day.
Note: The overview is not exhaustive and there are certainly more interesting accelerators/incubators supporting the FinTech startup ecosystem around the world. If you wish to be included in our overview or noticed incorrect information, please reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.