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IBM launches accelerator program to help startups grow and prioritize security


IBM has unveiled a new accelerator aimed at helping health tech and fintech startups scale while keeping their sensitive data secure.

The IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator Powered by IBM LinuxONE includes four phases: call for entries, startup identification, an in-person workshop and ongoing mentorship.

Fifteen companies will be selected to participate. By the end of the program, they will have had the opportunity to each receive up to $120,000 in IBM Cloud technology credits to access IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services running on IBM LinuxONE, which can protect data on-premises or in the cloud.

During the first phase, early-stage health tech and fintech founders are encouraged to apply. Eligible companies must be pre-Series A, less than five years old and have less than $1 million in revenue. They should also have a website and matching email address. The application deadline is 5 PM PT on July 31, 2019.

In phase two, IBM will work with IBM Alpha Zone, Queen City Fintech and MEDICI, a fintech company, to review applications and pick the 15 health tech and fintech startups in the cohort.

In response to emailed questions, Melissa Sassi, startup program manager of the IBM Z Influencer Ecosystem, said the participants will be selected by September 30, 2019.

“We do not have a preconceived idea around how the cohort will be split by industry, as we would like to let submissions and applications drive the selection,” she added, though the hope is that the companies are split evenly. “We are very focused on having a fair and objective decision-making process that will leverage a weighted scorecard and team review.”

Phase three involves a four-day, in-person workshop in November in Charlotte, North Carolina. There, the 15 selected companies will learn design and technical expertise from IBM, as well as attend business value sessions from IBM Alpha Zone, Queen City Fintech and MEDICI. The workshop concludes in a demo day through which founders can present their solutions to customers, the venture capital community and IBM partners.

Finally, the fourth phase involves IBM providing virtual mentorship to the group of entrepreneurs. More specifically, this entails monthly one-on-one engagement and quarterly all-hands meetings with IBM technical personnel over two years. Additionally, the startups will receive virtual business mentorship over a one-year period. After one year of mentorship, the companies will attend a second in-person demo day.

IBM also works with startups in several other existing programs, including its Blockchain Accelerator.

“However, we saw an opportunity to bring IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services to a new audience who might not realize how important creating a secure platform is for your businesses,” said Sassi. “With data breaches occurring daily in both large enterprises and small, scrappy startups, protecting sensitive data is relevant for all businesses.”

Photo: MF3d, Getty Images

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