IBM wants startups to understand the importance of security — and then give them the tools to do so. Big Blue has announced the Hyper Protect Accelerator Powered by IBM LinuxONE, a startup accelerator program located in Charlotte, North Carolina that will give selected high-potential startups access to IBM technical resources and business mentorship.
By the end of the program, each startup in the cohort will have had the opportunity to receive up to $120,000 in technology credits to access IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services running on IBM LinuxONE, which protects data on-premises or in the cloud. These credits will be distributed in $10,000 per month increments.
The accelerator costs nothing upfront, and IBM and its partners do not take equity.
IBM is focusing on early-stage financial and health technology startups, two sectors where security is of paramount importance. Accepted companies will be pre-Series A, less than five years old, with less than $1M in revenue.
“We will firstly look for industry — fintech and healthtech — and then we will look for product fit. Are they collecting, storing, transmitting, and transmitting PII?” Melissa Sassi, Startup Program Manager for IBM, tells Hypepotamus in an email.
“Once high-level fit has been established, we will evaluate their business plan, team experience, value proposition, problem statement, technology roadmap, and other elements from their pitch decks using a scorecarding approach and team review,” she says.
In a blog post, Sassi also emphasizes that selecting a diverse cohort is important to the company, as “diversity and inclusion are integral to a company’s strategic and profitability objectives — solidifying the connection between customer satisfaction and winning in the marketplace.”
IBM has partnered with the Southeast’s only fintech-focused accelerator, Charlotte’s Queen City Fintech, as well as fintech data and content company MEDICI, to help select the 15 companies that will join the cohort.
“QCF was selected due to their knowledge, track record, and results within the startup ecosystem… MEDICI also has a strong track record in the fintech space and is an active partner for other influencer and thought leadership activities,” says Sassi.
IBM Alpha Zone, the company’s Israel-based accelerator program that has run nine startup cohorts, will also be involved.
Applications are now open and close July 31.
After selection, startups will attend a four-day workshop in Charlotte which will cover topics such as agile design, technical expertise, and business value.
The workshop will conclude in a demo day in the fall where founders will present their solutions to IBM partners, customers, and the venture capital community.
Following demo day, IBM will continue to provide virtual mentorship to the entrepreneurs over a two-year period. After a year, IBM will host a second in-person demo day.
Sassi cites strength in financial markets, a budding startup culture, and IBM’s local presence as reasons for the program’s location in Charlotte.