Venture Center now accepting applications for 2017 FinTech Accelerator

Little Rock nonprofit The Venture Center is now taking applications for the second round of the VC FinTech Accelerator, the center announced Thursday (Dec. 8).

Created in partnership with the Arkansas Governor’s Office and Fortune 500 financial services technology company FIS Global, the VC FinTech Accelerator is a highly selective and rigorous 12-week program (May 8-July 28) designed to accelerate the growth of early-stage startups.

This round, the center is looking for early-stage financial services ventures that could disrupt the industry through emerging technologies that include cognitive computing, neutral networks, enterprise blockchain and internet of things (IoT) in financial services, in addition to more traditional services surrounding core banking, payments, mobile and security.

“Startups innovating in analytics, cognitive computing, cyber security, bank back office, investment management, wearables, wallets — among others — should apply for this highly competitive and unique program,” The Venture Center President and CEO Lee Watson said in a press release. “There exists no other place on earth where a founding team can gain access to leaders within the largest financial software company in the world.”

Deadline to enter is Feb. 5, and 10 portfolio companies will be chosen and offered a $50,000 initial investment from a fund that is managed by The Venture Center, according to a press release from The Venture Center.

The accelerator offers mentorship from The Venture Center’s network of entrepreneurs and subject matter experts, with additional coaching and mentorship provided by executives for Fidelity Information Services (FIS), which provides financial services tech for about 20,000 clients in more than 130 countries. FIS started as Systematics in 1968 in Little Rock. Its named was changed after it was purchased by Fidelity National Financial in 2003.

On July 27, the VC FinTech Demo Day will be attended by investors and financial services executives from the global fintech community, according to the release.

The top-performing companies of the group are also eligible for $100,000 to $300,000 in additional capital at the end of the program.

“Arkansas is proud to partner with FIS to continue the VC FinTech Accelerator in 2017,” Gov Asa Hutchinson said in the release. “This year’s program brought some of the world’s most exciting financial services startups and promising tech talent to our state and we are excited to see that relationship continue. It is great to see companies like FIS investing in innovation in Arkansas and we are excited to partner with them to increase the tech footprint in our state.”

Six portfolio companies from the 2016 FinTech Accelerator entered the FIS HiPo Network. HiPo, short for “high potential,” is a collection of firms that have demonstrated substantial promise in the development of new tools and technologies that deliver purposeful innovation for FIS Clients around the world.

“FIS has a strong track record in innovation that allows our clients to achieve their objectives, while empowering them with the tools necessary to stay competitive in the rapidly-changing financial technology industry,” Rob Lee, chief product officer for banking and payments at FIS, said in the press release. “This collaboration with The Venture Center is an excellent opportunity to promote innovation earlier in the life cycle. Little Rock is a natural fit for this initiative given FIS’ history and large employee presence in the market.”

FinTech’s accelorator companies can build on the history of fintech leaders from central Arkansas, including FIS, Arkansas Systems (now Euronet Worldwide), ABC Financial, Stephens Inc., Mainstream Technologies and Acxiom, according to the press release.

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