Today Accenture opens up applications for its eighth Fintech Innovation Lab London. In addition to the Lab’s overall goal of helping fintechs from all areas and backgrounds to excel, this year Accenture is also aiming to improve the number of female founders taking part in an effort to narrow the gender gap in fintech.
Accenture research analysis showed that female-founded companies received less than 3.5% of all UK venture capital (VC) funding in 2018, with the average investment in start-ups led by men at £5.5m, while those led by women received on average less than half of that (£2.6m). Recognising the need for a larger proportion of females working in the fintech sector, Accenture is using the opening of its 2020 Innovation Lab programme as a call to a gender diverse group of fintech founders to apply.
During the three-month fintech accelerator programme, fintech start-ups will be partnered with executives from banks and insurers to fine-tune and develop their technologies and business models. This year, the Lab will work with fintech platform FS6 to proactively scout female-led companies to apply. Additionally, Accenture will leverage its network of Fintech Innovation Lab alumni, as well as female business mentors to bring women closer to the VC community. This year’s programme will also see the introduction of female CEO-led masterclass sessions, specifically tailored to women in fintech.
Tom Graham, managing director and executive sponsor for Accenture’s Fintech Innovation Lab London said: “We’re very excited to open applications for this year’s Lab. It’s integral for the financial services industry that we all work to create an equal playing field in a highly competitive space, and programmes like the Innovation Lab help are a great first step to guiding and progressing fintechs with founders from all backgrounds.”
Caroline Hughes, co-founder and CEO of Lifetise, a participant in last year’s Lab, said: “As a participant in Accenture’s Fintech Innovation Lab London in 2019, I have first-hand experience of how valuable these accelerator programmes can be for new businesses. I think it’s extremely important that female founders, of fintechs in particular, are encouraged to take part in these programmes as there is still plenty to be done to narrow the gender gap in the industry. Accenture’s lab is open to all, and it’s great to see a specific focus on gender equality this year, alongside other initiatives such as technology for good. Good luck to all those applying!”
A subset of the start-ups selected for the Lab will present to venture capitalists and financial-industry executives at the programme’s Graduation Day in March 2020. Accenture and a dozen major banks launched the FinTech Innovation Lab London in 2012, with support from the city’s mayor and other government bodies. Since its launch, 94 start-ups have participated in the London Lab, securing c$400m of funding.
The London Lab is modelled on a similar programme that Accenture co-founded in 2010 with the Partnership Fund for New York City, the US$160 million investment arm of the Partnership for New York City. In 2014, Accenture launched FinTech Innovation Labs in Asia-Pacific and Dublin. Globally, the Labs’ alumni companies have raised over US$1.8 billion in venture capital financing after participating in the programme.