Barclays has run Accelerators with Techstars for several years

Barclays innovation initiatives are housed not in Barclays offices but in startup oases, and with startup regimes

Barclays runs four startup initiatives, the first in London, the second in New York; one in Tel Aviv and another in Mumbai. The first two are based round a 13 week Accelerator programme – run by Techstars, and located in co-working spaces – called Rises.

Now in its sixth year, and with its eighteenth cohort, the London programme, and the New York Accelerator programme now in its fourth year, have seen 180 startups through their programmes (now at about 30 a year). These provide unique access to Barclays, to its investment bank and to its clients and partners.

Applicants will normally have problems that are associated with the bank; and each must have a clear business owner in the bank. Billed as about the future of Fintech, they tend to be about efficiency or sustaining innovation. The current programme has 10 participants.

The first month of the programme is dubbed Mentor Madness Month. In one day they each meet some half dozen mentors and get consolidated feed-back. They then have to follow up with each of them. Barclays claims to have 4,800 mentors in all. Three to five mentors are attached to each startup. (Techstars features ten in its current programme). At the end of the programme the startups rate their mentors – to Techstars. The second month concentrates on growth – in which they work with their mentors. And they present their business proposition at a final Demo Day.

Startups need to reach a commercial relationship of some kind with one or more customers if they are to raise VC funding for their next steps. Since January 2019, Barclays has been able to invest up to £10 mn in ‘strategically relevant companies’ in each programme.

Rise London provides work space for 175 aspirants in some 50 companies, including

  • the desk spaces and café;
  • well-attended and frequent events;
  • connectivity: Fintech Fridays are a monthly opportunity for the startups to interact with visiting mentors and for ongoing conversations with the community – of successful founders and experts, some of whom may become investors. ‘A stable of Unicorns attracts good trainers.’

Barclays claims to have a related online community of 7,500. And participants remain members of Techstars community for life – with access to a variety of events and to ongoing mentorship.

Originally opened four years ago, October 2019 saw the re-launch and expansion of Rise New York, a state-of-the-art space that includes an auditorium and a recording studio, that can also host over 100 FinTech and enterprise tech companies. (It had once been Barclays Group Innovation Office’s intention to open many more Rises by this time.)

John Whatmore, 2020













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