CBA’s VC accelerator hunts AI startups

Brandon How

Data and AI startups are the focus of the Commonwealth Bank’s next accelerator program Xccelerate24, with startups to vie for a $250,000 investment and a potential partnership with Australia’s biggest bank.

Run by the bank’s venture-scaling arm x15ventures, the accelerator’s sixth round since launch in 2020 is themed ‘Reimagining the customer and employee experience with data and AI’.

Services or products that leverage generative AI, utilise large or unique datasets, and increase safeguards for customers and businesses are among the priority areas of the initiative.

Startups must be pre-Series A funding, incorporated in Australia, and have a minimum viable product that can be demoed to the x15 team. Technologies must also comply with CommBank’s AI Principles.

A $250,000 SAFE note – which can be converted to equity later – will be invested in at least one participating firm based on their potential to enter a corporate partnership.

Before the finalists pitch for their chance at the backing and ongoing support from x15, successful applicants will participate in two days of workshops.

An Xccelerate community day will be held on September 16, with 15 to 20 of the strongest applicants invited to participate in panels, mentoring, and networking sessions intended to provide a feel for a corporate partnership with a bank.

The pool of applicants will then be narrowed to five for participation in the partnership pathway day on October 1. This will further detail the forms of strategic partnership with a corporation while technical and domain experts help applicants develop a pilot partnership pitch.

CommBank chief data and analytics officer Dr Andrew McMullan said “AI and data are and will continue to be key enablers of CommBank’s strategy to build tomorrow’s bank today”.

“While CommBank is already recognised as a leader in AI maturity, it’s still early days and we know the biggest opportunities for innovation lie ahead of us. For example, using data and AI to increase protection against fraud and scams, simplify operational processes and improve support for frontline staff,” Dr McMullan said.

Last year’s theme of “Helping Advance Australia’s Transition to Net Zero” attracted 70 teams and saw AgTech firm Pairtree Intelligence walk away with the $250,000 investment and a strategic partnership with CommBank.

While not receiving any investment, automotive retail platform provider Vyro used connections made through Xccelerate 23 to enter a partnership with Commbank.

Applications to the program close on August 20.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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