Shaping the future of fintech at Rise New York
Applications are open for the 2019 New York Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, which will run at Rise New York – soon to become the bank’s largest global fintech community space. We speak to Catherine Abell, Vice President in the Group Innovation Office, about positioning Barclays as a leader in the fintech world.
Just yards from the Flatiron Building in Manhattan lies Rise New York, one of Barclays’ global community hubs offering workspace and resources to some of the most exciting startups in fintech.
Barclays recently announced a major expansion to the space – which currently houses more than 60 startups – intending to bring in over 200 new companies into a 66,000 square foot, five-floor site complete with an events space, auditorium and recording studio.
The site will become a true ‘Home of fintech’ – allowing startups to connect and create at scale – and will play host to numerous innovation events and learning sessions that will be open to the local ecosystem.
So why invest now?
“We had an opportunity to expand our presence in New York and increase the size of our community,” explains Catherine Abell, VP, Barclays Group Innovation Office, who is responsible for managing the New York Accelerator. “The expansion should be complete later this year. The New York programme kicks off in the fall, so this will be a really exciting time for us at Rise New York.”
Along with its investment in the New York site, Barclays has announced that through the bank’s accelerator programme, startups in each of the three global locations will be eligible for funding through Rise Growth Investments – new investment capital that will be solely focused on the companies accepted into the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, programme.
“We offer Barclays Accelerator participants unparalleled access to Barclays’ resources including: subject matter experts, business executives and colleagues, whose full-time responsibility is to help the companies grow,” says Catherine.
The Barclays Accelerator operates out of Rise New York, Rise London and Rise Tel Aviv. When the current London programme finishes in May, more than 150 startups will have graduated from the Barclays Accelerator since its creation in 2014. During the three-month programme, companies tackle a wide range of financial problems, including, but not limited to, risk management, financial savings and payment solutions.
“There are so many fantastic companies that come through our accelerator,” says Catherine. “Pluto Money, from our 2018 New York class, is a free financial app for Generation Z that allows users to save towards their financial goals and improve their spending habits. I think financial wellness is so important. I just wish something like this had been available when I was at university. Pluto Money – which recently featured in the iOS App Store – is just one of many success stories from our portfolio.”
How does Barclays benefit fintech startups?
Catherine is keen to point out that fintech partnerships work both ways, with the bank benefiting significantly from working with entrepreneurs at the cutting edge of the financial industry and the startups getting access to the vast resources a bank has to offer.
“We know that good ideas can originate outside the global corporate environment, and we need to harness these ideas so that we can both grow as a business and help our customers and clients,” says Catherine.
“These fintech companies are going against the grain and disrupting mainstream finance. The founders themselves are incredibly impressive and their enthusiasm is truly inspiring. So, what we now have is a network of alumni companies who help us think outside the box.”
Relationships don’t end once companies graduate. Barclays continues to provide support, which in some cases has resulted in commercial partnerships. “Simudyne and Flux are great examples of successes we have seen with our Accelerator alumni,” says Catherine. “With Rise New York poised to become an even more significant player in the city’s fintech activity through Barclays’ commitment in this space, we hope to continue driving success through the programme.”