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The Venture Center, based in Little Rock, has become a hub for the financial technology industry. Financial technology, or fintech, is one of the fastest growing technology segments in the state. Home to Fidelity Information Services (FIS), Little Rock is the birthplace for technological disruption in the financial industry. The state has focused on attracting tech startups and enriching the tech culture with several programs that foster growth-stage fintech companies.
The Venture Center focuses on accelerating the growth of technology-based startups and increasing the level of technical talent in Arkansas. The Venture Center has partnered with prominent financial institutions on two fintech accelerators – the FIS FinTech Accelerator and the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator. Its accelerator programs have impacted 48 companies, helping to bring cutting-edge technologies to market.
The Venture Center was selected as a finalist in the "Best FinTech Accelerator/Incubator" category of the first annual Finovate Awards. The Finovate Awards recognize the companies driving fintech innovation forward and the individuals who are bringing new ideas to life. The "Best FinTech Accelerator/Incubator" category recognizes accelerators that “consistently nurtures quality fintech companies and helps them on their journey.”
“It’s an incredible honor to be one of only six finalists for an award of this magnitude,” said Wayne Miller, Executive Director of the Venture Center.
“The Venture Center’s partnerships with the State of Arkansas; FIS, the world’s largest fintech; and the ICBA, the U.S.’s largest community bank association have been critical to our continued growth and we’re grateful for the opportunity to help provide solutions where technology is pivotal in the quest to help our stakeholders and partners. Being a finalist for this award shows the world that Little Rock, Arkansas is truly blazing a path for fintech innovation on a global scale.”
In addition to The Venture Center’s nomination, two of The Venture Center’s accelerator alumni were nominated for Finovate Awards. BOND.AI and Neener Analytics were selected as finalists in the same category for “Best Use of AI/ML”, the largest category of the awards show with nine nominees. The category recognizes companies that are “using artificial intelligence/machine-learning technology to the greatest effect, creating new capabilities that are only possible through AI/ML.”
BOND.AI is a Little Rock-based company that specializes in conversational artificial-intelligence. The company relocated from New York City to Little Rock after participating in the FIS FinTech Accelerator to be part of the city’s growing fintech community. BOND.AI did not win the “Best of AI/ML” category this year, but the company did win “Best of Show” at the FinovateFall 2018 conference.
Neener Analytics is California-based company that uses social media data for alternative risk assessment. While the company did not win in the “Best of AI/ML” category, they did win the “Excellence in Financial Inclusion” category. The “Excellence in Financial Inclusion” award highlights companies that excel at providing access to basic banking services for the underserved.