ICBA's Reimagined ThinkTECH Accelerator to Support Year-Round Programming

By Charles E. Potts

Oct. 26, 2022

Bob Dylan once said, “There is nothing so stable as change,” and I have found that to be true, particularly as we look to embrace modern technologies and the companies that enable them.

Take today’s landscape: The growth in fintech over the past five years has been exponential, but with the economy showing signs of slowing the start-up frenzy, focused investments will rise in both prominence and importance. This strategic emphasis on specific solutions speaks directly to community bank needs and the model ICBA has cultivated in our ThinkTECH innovation initiatives.

Four years ago, ICBA charted a new course with the launch of the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator program—the first-of-its kind designed to cultivate and enhance product development and go-to- market strategies for community bank-focused fintech solutions. The timing of this launch was fortuitous, as the infrastructure put in place helped community bankers navigate the pandemic—from the Paycheck Protection Program to a rapid-fire shift to digital solutions.

ICBA Accepting Applications for ThinkTECH Accelerator 2023

The application period for the 2023 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator program is now open. Selected companies will participate in an intensive bootcamp and receive critical feedback to help tailor their solutions to the unique needs of community banks and their customers.

Launched in 2018 and named Finovate’s 2020 Best Fintech Accelerator, ThinkTECH has connected innovative fintech companies with more than 1,000 community bankers and industry leaders.

Apply or nominate a fintech for consideration.

And today’s landscape signals another opportune time for change. Guided by our leadership bankers and members, ICBA recently made the decision to bring the ThinkTECH Accelerator in-house and expand its programming. This shift is the natural progression of a successful program, one that has engaged more than 1,000 community bankers and industry leaders and will continue to grow in influence and reach. We are expanding our efforts to create a wider avenue of opportunity for community banks and fintechs to collaborate and address industry needs.

To achieve this vision, we’ve made a few strategic announcements in recent weeks:

  1. We hired Wayne Miller, an experienced, and respected thought leader in this space. Wayne has been involved in the Accelerator program since its inception and brings continuity and leadership to his new position as senior vice president, director of innovation programming.

  2. We are developing an office space in Atlanta. The city of Atlanta will be the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator’s new home. Known as a hub of innovation, Atlanta is an emerging epicenter for tech talent. Its central location also makes it convenient for banker fly-ins—more than 80 percent of the U.S. population is within a two-hour flight, a critical component in bringing community bankers together with fintechs, policymakers, and influencers to move our industry forward.

  3. We are introducing year-round programming. Innovation is constant, and as such, must be thoughtfully and consistently nurtured. With year-round programming ICBA will have greater flexibility to respond to new developments and address bankers’ shifting business needs. That includes delivering useful insights from industry thought leaders through our podcast and webinar innovation series.

  4. We are staffing up. To execute against these plans, we need a team of entrepreneurial-minded leaders to shepherd innovative programs from ideation to reality. So, we will be hiring additional staff for our Atlanta office and realigning our strategic solutions group roles and responsibilities to ensure we have the right professionals in place to support our member banks’ evolving innovation needs. This process began with the integration of our solutions and innovations departments and provides additional resources to pivot as needed to identify and stand-up solutions that address emerging areas of interest for community banks and their customers.

With the pace of change in our industry and the corresponding rate of innovation, there’s a lot at stake. ICBA’s innovation initiatives are designed to create a clear path forward, providing the relationships, connections, and support that will help enable what’s next for community banking. And to paraphrase Dylan, there’s a lot of stability in that change.

We look forward to bringing these ideas to reality, and we will continue to provide updates and information to our bankers as details solidify. In the meantime, reach out with any questions or ideas, or to nominate a fintech for our program. Your input matters as together, we shape the future.