The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants and CPA.com, the American Institute of CPAs' technology subsidiary, are launching an initiative to provide funding and support to early-stage companies developing innovative technologies for the accounting profession. The Association and CPA.com Startup Accelerator will seek to support as many as five early-stage companies during the next year. The focus will be on startups in two key areas:
- Technology and financial information, which could include advances in artificial intelligence, automation of routine tasks, and the application of blockchain/digital ledgers; and
- Professional competency innovation, which could encompass machine learning to personalize professional education, collaboration tools for mentors and experts, and improvements in measuring professional competency, among other categories.
The Startup Accelerator will provide as many as five companies with up to $20,000 in funding and access to subject-matter experts, including an advisory panel of thought leaders in the accounting technology field available to provide coaching and mentoring on issues and opportunities unique to the profession. The funding will be subject to a commercial agreement that could take any number of forms, including using the funding to purchase equity in the startup or to assist with development of a product in which CPA.com and/or the Association would own part of the product's intellectual property. Another possibility would be a channel agreement to provide access to the market.
Firms chosen for the accelerator initiative also would have the opportunity to showcase their product or service next June at AICPA ENGAGE 2018, one of the largest accounting-related events in the United States, and—with continued, successful development—the potential for longer-term, strategic relationships within the profession.
The main goals for the Association and CPA.com in launching the accelerator are to promote innovation and to give the accounting profession early insight into disruptive technologies and services in finance and business.
Applicants from all global markets are eligible to apply for one of the five accelerator spots. To qualify:
- Startups should be at a pre-Series A stage of financing, with some exceptions.
- The company must have a functioning product or service.
- Pre-revenue companies will be considered based on their development progress and business plan.
- Candidate companies must agree to pitch their product or service to Association and CPA.com executives this fall, after which up to five finalists will be selected.
Submissions by startups are due by Oct. 5. Interested companies that want more information can contact Greg LaFollette, a strategic adviser with CPA.com, at Greg.Lafollette@hq.cpa.com, or Mark Brooks, senior manager of innovation at the Association, at Mark.Brooks@aicpa-cima.com. To apply for consideration or learn more details about the Startup Accelerator, visit aicpaglobal.com/accelerator.