The Royal Bank of Canada will be starting with a focus on B2B startups with an accelerator program called RBC Reach that will offer $100,000 in funding to entrepreneurs from around the world.
RBC Reach, which is accepting applications until the end of the month, is being launched in partnership with Highline BETA, a company that the bank said has worked with other large enterprises to help develop startups and new ventures. Besides funding, the three-month RBC Reach program will offer opportunities to create proof-of-concepts of potential products, access to RBC’s fintech subject matter experts and designated workspaces.Though the bank is headquartered in Toronto, Canada, RBC said it may help sponsor visas for international applicants.
RBC Reach will run multiple cohorts per year, and each will focus on a strategic theme, said Barrie Laver, managing director at RBC Capital Partners. Focusing on B2B startups is a way for the bank to work with firms that can bring innovation and value that go beyond the kinds of services it offers and solve other kinds of problems for business clients.
“(Applicants) should offer products or services that support the broad range of needs for small- to medium-sized businesses, including starting a business, staffing, sales management, scaling a business and everything in between,” Laver told B2B News Network. “There are a number of characteristics that will be assessed during the process but the key indicator is whether a commercial agreement with RBC will drive growth for the company.”
Beyond its deep expertise in banking, Laver pointed out that RBC has a number of technologies and divisions in specialized areas that could be of high interest to B2B startups. This includes eBorealis AI, Vanguard, RBC’s Cybersecurity Lab and RBC’s Blockchain Centre of Excellence.
Though there are many similar programs available to entrepreneurs, Laver said RBC Reach will stand out as a few true commercialization accelerators with a global financial institution.
“We’re creating an expedited path for startups to a commercial agreement,” he said, adding that RBC Reach will also provide relevant programming to grow their businesses and advance commercial relationships. This could include navigating regulatory environments, gaining access to capital sessions and mentoring from founders who are currently in RBC’s VC portfolio. “Most accelerators target pre-seed/seed-stage startups, but RBC Reach focuses on post-seed to pre-series A companies — in other words, tech startups that have received seed funding and have early market traction.”
Upon completion of the three month program, companies that sign a commercial agreement with RBC will participate in additional part-time programming to drive implementation and launch of a successful commercial pilot, Laver said. These companies will be eligible to receive additional funding from RBC as well as support from the Highline BETA investment team on raising future rounds of funding.