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USF, Tampa Bay Wave collaborate on new St. Pete-based fintech accelerator

Veronica Brezina

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Tampa Bay Wave and the University of South Florida Muma College of Business are launching a new accelerator to bolster the fintech industry in the region. 

The accelerator is called the FinTech|X Accelerator, which aims to assist high-growth and high-potential startups in the fintech space. Its first cohort will be selected in 2022.

Fintech is a targeted growth industry in St. Petersburg, which is home to many well-known fintechs such as CrossBorder Solutions, Code-X and RxLive. 

Tampa Bay Wave CEO Linda Olson first mentioned the concept of creating the fintech accelerator two months ago during Tampa Bay Wave’s TechDiversity cohort pitch night at Tropicana Field. 

“Because of the success of the Cyber X program and what that did, we have been having a number of conversations in the community about doing another industry vertical,” Olson said at that time. “Did you know two of the top five fastest-growing wealth management firms that are fintech-based are based in St. Petersburg? Also, USF has been working on strengthening its finance degree program and incorporating it with the technology department so they can offer degrees in fintech out of the USF St. Pete campus.” 

The majority of the in-person programming and events will take place on USF’s St. Petersburg campus. 

“The fintech accelerator will allow our campus to play an active role in the growth of fintech across the Tampa Bay region,” Gary Patterson, interim director of the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance in the Muma College of Business, said in the news release. 

The accelerator will begin accepting applications on or before Jan. 1 from startups around the world.

The startups selected for the cohort will participate at no cost and without giving up equity in their companies, which is the same setup as the Wave’s other cohorts.

The 90-day accelerator will begin in mid-April, with signature events planned for June. The accelerator offers classroom training, virtual education opportunities and one-on-one mentoring. Cohort companies will ultimately participate in a private demo day event to a room full of investors and venture capitalists.

After the 90-day program, companies completing the program have access to an additional six months of mentoring and other resource support at no cost. 

“This program embodies St. Petersburg’s Grow Smarter strategy by focusing on the intersection of financial services and technology,” St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation CEO J.P. DuBuque said in the release. “We’re seeing that nearly all financial service companies in our market are either significantly leveraging technology or are truly fintech companies. FinTech|X will allow us to showcase our thought leadership in the space and attract innovative entrepreneurs and growing companies to our region.”

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