Columbus Adds Pair of Accelerators Focusing on Fintech and Smart Cities

Two new accelerators will launch their inaugural programs in Columbus this fall. A cross-industry partnership of some of the biggest companies across the state will support Fintech 71, a global financial technology accelerator, while Silicon Valley think tank Singularity University introduces the Smart City Accelerator, aimed at amplifying Columbus’ success as a global technology center.

Applications open today for the 10-week Fintech 71 Accelerator.

“Ohio, as a whole, has such a significant presence in financial services and insurance and payments that it was very intuitive to suggest that we should be focusing on that from an innovation standpoint,” says Matt Armstead, executive director for the accelerator.

Financial services technology companies incorporate a number of verticals including:

  • Digital banking
  • Payments
  • Insurtech
  • Personal finance & investments
  • Institutional finance & investments
  • Healthcare fintech
  • Lending
  • RegTech

Armstead says companies that have a product, have customers, are generating some revenue, and are in a position to scale their business, are the ideal stage for the accelerator.

“We have to have people that have products that can be tested with these partners that we have,” he explains.

Fintech 71 will award up to 12 companies sourced from across the globe $100,000 per team during the accelerator which will begin on September 10, 2017 and wrap up around Thanksgiving. The accelerator will also provide the traditional benefits of such programs, like mentorship.

“Whenever you evaluate a startup after an acceleration period of time and they ask what the most valuable asset was, it’s definitely the mentorship,” Armstead says.

Accelerator participants will also have unprecedented access to the C-level executives at the companies supporting the program like KeyBank, Huntington, JPMorgan Chase, Progressive and Grange.

“We now have a front door for these startups to go into and find the right person in an expedited way,” Armstead says. 

Alignment with large institutions also allows direct communication about the problems they are trying to solve or services they feel are going to be disruptors.

Armstead says large institutions are at a point where they are asking themselves questions like, “How do we innovate? How do we disrupt ourselves? How do we attract younger talent to these institutions that have an aging demographic in terms of employment? How do we create new technologies that are more consumer-friendly?”

The Fintech 71 accelerator is set up as a non-profit.

There’s self-sustaining models built into this so that we can build off of the success of the companies,” Armstead says. 

The goal is to be able to accelerate several classes of startups without continually asking for dollars, but Armstead estimates it will take five to seven years to play out. Also instrumental in the support of the accelerator are economic development corporation JobsOhio and Lumos, which runs another accelerator in Columbus.

Both Fintech 71 and the Smart City Accelerator will be housed at 107 S. High St., the former offices of Print Syndicate.

The Smart City Accelerator is also currently accepting applications and will run on a similar time frame, September 12, 2017 to November 17, 2017. Applicants in five broad areas of focus will be eligible to receive up to $100,000 in funding from Columbus-based venture capital firm NCT Ventures. The Smart City Accelerator is looking for companies around:

  • Mobility – including logistics and automated vehicles
  • Connectivity – including wireless and satellite technologies
  • Data/Analytics – including artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Infrastructure/Energy – including battery technology, charging stations, and “alternative propulsion systems”
  • Manufacturing/Production – including 3D printing and micro-manufacturing

More information on the Smart City Accelerator can be found on Columbus Underground. CLICK HERE to learn more. 

For more information on the Fintech 71 Accelerator and to apply visit