CommBank’s x15ventures opens applications for AI accelerator programme

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The Commonwealth Bank’s venture-scaling arm, x15ventures, is seeking startups reimagining the customer and employee experience with data and artificial intelligence (AI) for its annual Xccelerate program, which helps early-stage founders explore pathways to partnership with the Bank.

Applications for Xccelerate open today, Wednesday 10 July, and close Tuesday 20 August, with x15 aiming to invest $250,000 into the startup with the strongest partnership potential.

Announcing the theme of this year’s program, ‘Reimagining the customer and employee experience with data and AI’, Dr Andrew McMullan, Chief Data and Analytics Officer, CommBank, said:

“AI and data are and will continue to be key enablers of CommBank’s strategy to build tomorrow’s bank today. With the pace of recent advancements in GenAI, it’s hard to imagine a future in which we can deliver the best customer and employee experiences without them.

“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.”

Laura Faulconer, Portfolio Director, x15ventures, said:
“We want to hear from early-stage founders that see strategic partnership with a corporate, like CommBank, as a path to scaling their business. With over 600 early-stage AI and data startups in Australia, we’re hoping this year’s program – our sixth since launching x15 in 2020 – will be the best yet.”

Last year’s Xccelerate attracted interest from over 70 teams, with agtech integrator Pairtree Intelligence not only securing the $250,000 investment, but also signing a strategic partnership to help CommBank develop products and services for the agricultural sector. Automotive retail platform provider Vyro has also leveraged connections it forged through Xccelerate23 to secure a partnership with CommBank and digital auto marketplace, carsales.

Program criteria
To be eligible for this year’s Xccelerate, applicants need to be pre-Series A, incorporated in Australia, as well as aligned with the program theme and CommBank’s AI Principles, which apply to all AI systems designed, developed, deployed, or used by the Bank.

x15 is particularly interested to receive applications from startups that are:
• Helping businesses deliver interesting value propositions that leverage GenAI, and/or create novel experiences only possible by data, either unique data or large volumes of data.
• Safeguarding customers and businesses from the increasing risk of sophisticated threats.
• Improving customer or employee experiences and engagement.
• Reducing complexity to enhance productivity, including in engineering, compliance, and risk.

Applicants will require a minimum viable product that can be demoed to the x15 Investment team, with either the technical capabilities to develop their product in-house, or a clear understanding of how it would be built using external providers. The full list of entry requirements can be found on the Xccelerate website.

Program overview
Between 15 and 20 of the strongest applicants will be selected to attend the Xccelerate Community Day in Sydney on Monday 16 September for a full day of panels, mentoring, and networking to help participants better understand what a corporate partnership with a bank might entail, and to accelerate the growth of their businesses.

The five most promising teams will then return for the Partnership Pathway Day on 1 October, where they will delve deeper into the different forms of strategic partnership with a corporate and receive hands-on support from technical and domain experts to help them develop a pilot partnership pitch.

On 30 October, finalists will present their partnership pilot opportunities directly to executives and key decision makers from CommBank and x15. At the end of the program, x15 aims to invest $250,000 via SAFE Note into at least one venture, which will also receive ongoing support from x15 to help unlock the pathway to partnership.

Past Xccelerate alumni include supplier sustainability tracker, givvable (2020), rent-to-buy startup, OwnHome (2020), retail discovery network, Splashup (2021), financial workflow management company, Paytron (2022) which has since been acquired by ASX-listed OFX, and agtech integrator, Pairtree Intelligence (2023).

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