10 Fintech Accelerators and Incubators in North America to Know

10 Fintech Accelerators and Incubators in North America to Know

With robust financial markets, advanced infrastructure and technological prowess, North America has emerged as a hotspot for fintech innovation.

The continent boasts a myriad of programs designed to propel startups to the top, providing the most promising tech-enabled businesses with critical resources to grow and connecting them with industry veterans, experts and potential investors.

Today, we look at ten of the largest and most prolific fintech acceleration and incubation programs in the continent. These programs have established track-records of building up and supporting some of the world’s biggest and most successful ventures.

Y Combinator

y combinator

 

Although not exclusively fintech-focused, Y Combinator (YC) is one of the most prolific and prestigious startup accelerators in the world.

The American company runs programs and provides resources that support founders throughout the life of their company. These include Startup School, which teaches the basics of starting a company; the three-month YC batch program, which takes place twice a year in-person in San Francisco and helps founders as they build their product, talk to their customers, and raise funding; Work at a Startup, which makes it easy for founders to find their first engineers; and YC Series A, which helps founders launch their A round.

YC claims it has invested in nearly 3,000 startups including Airbnb, DoorDash, Instacart and Dropbox. Many successful fintech startups, including payment processing platform Stripe and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, also started their journeys at YC. The combined valuation of YC companies stands at over US$300 billion, the company says.

500 Global

500 global

 

500 Global is a multi-stage venture capital (VC) firm headquartered in San Francisco. With US$2.5 billion in assets under management, the firm invests in founders building fast-growing technology companies, focusing on markets where technology, innovation, and capital can unlock long-term value and drive economic growth.

500 Global’s Flagship Accelerator program runs for four months in Silicon Valley. The program focuses on helping founders of early-stage startups take their companies to the next level and provide them up to US$150,000 in seed funding.

500 Global also runs the Alberta Accelerator program, which focuses on growing and scaling promising Canadian startups in sectors such as clean energy, digital health innovation and artificial intelligence (AI).

500 Global claims it has backed over 5,000 founders representing more than 2,600 companies operating in 80 countries. The firm’s portfolio includes 51 companies valued at over US$1 billion and 140 companies valued at over US$100 million. Fintech companies 500 Global has backed include personal finance company Credit Karma, cross-border payment unicorn Chipper Cash and digital financing platform Funding Societies.

Techstars

techstars

 

Techstars is a global investment business that provides access to capital, one-on-one mentorship, a worldwide network and customized programming for early-stage entrepreneurs. Founded in 2006 in Boulder, Colorado, the company hosts a range of accelerator programs around the world, with its fintech-focused accelerators being among the most recognized.

Techstars often collaborate with corporate partners for specific programs, like the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars and the ABN AMRO + Techstars Future of Finance Accelerator.

Located in New York City and London, the Barclays Accelerator is an intensive 13-week program designed to accelerate promising startups with capability in machine learning (ML), lending, digital banking solutions, trading, and more. It’s a mentor-driven program with industry experts working closely with selected startups to help them accelerate over the course of the program, and beyond.

ABN AMRO + Techstars Future of Finance Accelerator, meanwhile, is a program hosted in Amsterdam that targets entrepreneurs across all areas of fintech with a specific focus on digital assets and sustainability.

Fintech Innovation Lab

fintech innovation lab

 

The Fintech Innovation Lab is a premier global program that helps early- to growth-stage companies who are redefining the fintech industry grow their business with support from the world’s top financial service firms.

Co-founded by Accenture and the Partnership Fund for New York City, the program aims to bring together leading financial services institutions, angel investors and VC firms to provide promising fintech startups with the opportunity to work with future customers, perfect propositions, gain insights into the banking industry and build strong relationships.

An annual program run in New York, London, and Hong Kong, the Fintech Innovation Lab claims its New York program has assisted entrepreneurs from 99 technology companies since its founding in 2010, including crypto exchange software provider AlphaPoint, market data and intelligence platform CB Insights and distributed ledger technology (DLT) provider Digital Asset Holdings. These program graduates have created more than 2,000 jobs, raised more than US$2.2 billion in venture financing, and 24 of them have been acquired, the firm says.

Plug and Play Fintech

plug and play

 

Plug and Play Fintech is a startup program dedicated to accelerating the innovation roadmap of major global financial entities, connecting startups, corporations, VC firms, universities and government agencies to help its corporate partners in every stage of their journey.

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, with locations in France, Japan, Germany and more, the accelerator focuses on seven fintech verticals: wealth and asset management, payments, sustainability, retail banking, regtech, open banking, and crypto and digital assets.

Plug and Play Fintech claims it has so far fast-tracked 70+ corporate partners, orchestrated 1,750+ POCs and pilots, accelerated 2,000+ startups, made 150+ strategic investments, and backed nine fintech unicorns.

Plug and Play Fintech’s corporate partners include Visa, BNP Paribas, Moody’s, Raiffeisen Bank International and Facebook. Fintech startups it has backed include paytech unicorn Flutterwave, German digital bank N26 and online payment giant PayPal.

AWS Fintech Accelerator

aws startup

 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched in June its first global fintech accelerator in partnership with Vestbee, a startup ecosystem platform in Central and Eastern Europe.

The equity-free online program is set to handpick 150 seed-stage, AI/ML-centric fintech startups from regions including North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, to provide them with product, business and investment support.

Participants will undergo six weeks of virtual mentorship from October 02 to November 06, 2023, and will gain insights into funding, scaling, market strategies, AWS technicalities, and more.

Startups stand to gain up to US$25,000 in AWS Activate credits and additional perks from partners across the fintech, VC, and financial sectors. The program’s pinnacle will see the top 15 startups presenting at a Demo Day to VCs and financial institutions, with an opportunity to secure an extra US$75,000 in AWS credits.

Key collaborations enhancing this accelerator include AI giant Nvidia and investor mentorship from Bain Capital Ventures.

MaRS Fintech

MaRS Fintech

Located in Toronto, MaRS claims to be the world’s largest urban innovation hub, supporting startups in the health, cleantech, fintech, and enterprise sectors.

MaRS’ fintech cluster provides innovators and companies that are modernizing the traditional businesses of banking, insurance, and wealth management with access to subject matter expertise, connections to capital, talent, and essential resources. It also links them up with traditional institutions with the goal of improving their services, better understanding their customers’ changing needs, and keeping people’s hard-earned money safe.

MaRS offers different programs and services tailored to various stage of growth. The Capital Program, for example, is a multi-sector, exclusive program that provides advisory support to help ventures prepare for and execute seed and Series A raises. The Growth Acceleration Program, on the other hand, supports scaling and high-growth companies on track to reaching CA$20 million in revenue.

MaRS says it has supported more than 1,400 Canadian science and tech companies, including fintech ventures Koho, Mogo, Trulioo and Wealthsimple.

Holt Accelerator

holt exchange

 

Holt Xchange is a global seed-stage VC fund based in Montreal that invests in fintech business application companies across the globe.

Holt Xchange also operates a three-month startup program designed to accelerate the growth of promising fintech companies by providing them with access to a 500+ advisory network comprising external angel and Series A investors, financial institutions and experts, supporting their team expansion plans, assisting them in reviewing and providing templates for startup documents that include product roadmaps, sales funnels, GTM strategy, financial models, unit economics, datarooms, term sheets, and more.

Over the last four years, Holt Xchange claims it has invested in 39 companies across 11 countries. Its portfolio has a combined valuation of CA$725 million and has raised over CA$ 125 million from more than 40 institutional investors. Its portfolio companies include Sentro, City Falcon and Consilium Crypto.

Highline Beta

highline beta

 

Highline Beta is a hybrid corporate venture studio and VC firm based in Toronto. The company works with executives to build new ventures both inside and outside of their organizations to unlock new areas of growth.

Highline Beta also provides tailored Corporate Pilot Accelerators, working with partners to frame business challenges, design the pilot program accelerator, build the pilot cohort, run the pilots and evaluate outcomes. From start to finish the Pilot Accelerators typically last less than a year, validating new startups with optionality to scale the relationships, invest or acquire.

Highline Beta, which only invests in startups it works with through its venture studio and pilot accelerator programs, counts the likes of accounting firm Stamped, blockchain startup BanQu and embedded insurance specialist Walnut Insurance in its portfolio.

DMZ

dmz

 

The DMZ, launched in 2010 under the name Digital Media Zone, is the Toronto Metropolitan University’s business incubator for early-stage tech startups. The incubator helps startups build great businesses by connecting them with customers, capital, experts and a community of entrepreneurs and influencers.

The DMZ runs different programs for different stage of development. These programs include the Launchpad, which is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to build a business and need support getting started; the Pre-Incubator, which targets tech founders who are validating a business idea, establishing a minimum viable product, and securing their first customers; and the Incubator, which is built for venture-backable pre-seed and seed-stage startups with a full-time founder, early traction, and proven product-market fit.

Since 2010, the DMZ claims it has helped fuel, grow and graduate 801 startups. These startups have raised CA$2.51 billion in seed funding and have fostered the creation of more than 4,975 jobs.

Successful fintech startups that started out at the DMZ include Fundscraper, a tech-enabled real estate investing platform, and Pungle, a digital platform acquired by Berkeley Payments that enables businesses to make secure and real-time payments to consumers, suppliers and employees.

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