CBA invites AI, data specialist startups to incubate with them

Startup incubator

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA’s) venture-scaling arm, x15ventures, has put out the call to startups with data and artificial intelligence (AI) expertise to join its annual incubation program, Xccelerate.

This year’s program, x15’s sixth since its launch back in 2020, is seeking early-stage founders “that see strategic partnership with a corporate, like CommBank, as a path to scaling their business”.

The bank itself said it was looking for startups with the “strongest partnership potential”.

To qualify, applicants must be pre-Series A, incorporated in Australia, and aligned with the program theme – ‘Reimagining the customer and employee experience with data and AI’ – as well as CommBank’s AI Principles.

The winning participant startup will receive $250,000 to support its product development and growth objectives.

Applicants will be required to have ready 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, CBA said.

Among some of the key attributes of the startups X15 is seeking include those that:

  • leverage generative AI (GenAI), and/or create novel experiences for partner businesses only possible by data, either unique data or large volumes of data.
  • safeguard customers and businesses from the increasing risk of sophisticated threats.
  • improve customer or employee experiences and engagement.
  • reduce complexity to enhance productivity, including in engineering, compliance, and risk.

An initial group of shortlisted applicants will be invited to a 30-minute virtual meeting with the x15 Portfolio team to answer questions on their proposition.

A subsequent group of 15 to 20 shortlisted 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.

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 business and receive hands-on support from technical and domain experts to help them develop a pilot partnership pitch”, CBA said.

Announcing this year’s program, CBA’s chief data and analytics officer Dr Andrew McMullan recognised the increasing importance of AI and data as “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.”

He added: “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.”

Last year’s Xccelerate attracted more than 70 applicants, with agtech integrator Pairtree Intelligence securing both the $250,000 investment as well as a strategic partnership to help CommBank develop products and services for the agricultural sector.

Applications for Xccelerate’s 2024 intake close on Tuesday 20 August.