Charles Potts: Next-level collaboration

balloons illustration

ICBA has a growing network of people and resources community banks can tap into as they continue their innovation journeys. The ThinkTECH Accelerator is one of several initiatives underway this year to foster community bank-enabled fintech partnerships.

By Charles Potts, ICBA


The collaborative process is critically important to what we do at ICBA and to the future of community banking. As I write this, the 2022 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator cohort, run in partnership with The Venture Center, is well underway. Throughout the process, ICBA members participate as community bank mentors and share industry challenges with the cohort participants to mature products, pitches and, ultimately, ensure product–market fit and longevity. The ThinkTECH Accelerator is one of several initiatives underway this year to foster community bank-enabled fintech partnerships.

In addition, ICBA will continue to provide a springboard for innovation with a series of new efforts designed to help community banks dive deeper into how to cultivate successful fintech partnerships. New case studies, webinars and educational resources will offer a behind-the-scenes look at how community banks partner with fintechs for innovation. These new tools and resources will help answer important questions, including:

  • How do we find companies that are the right fit?
  • How do we filter and qualify solutions for our bank’s needs?
  • How do we attract new talent to further our innovation goals and objectives?

As a natural part of this evolution, community banks are leveraging accelerators that feature fintech solutions geared to community banks and cultivating strategic partnerships focused on a high-tech, high-touch approach to innovation. Collaborative efforts like these are at the foundation of ICBA’s ecosystem and a natural cultural fit for most community banks.

To foster this kind of next-level collaboration, ICBA is taking steps to help state community bank associations develop Innovation Steering Committees, which will help identify potential partners in their local ecosystem. As part of the process, steering committee members will identify specific challenges they face that require solutions, draw solutions into their purview through community partnerships and qualify potential candidates.

The Georgia Community Bankers Association began this process two years ago, aligning themselves with the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech, which has a global reputation for fostering innovation and technological entrepreneurship. Through this strategic partnership, the Georgia Community Bankers Association Innovation Steering Committee has a direct pipeline into the university system, which allows them to identify new talent and potential fintech innovation technology partners.

ICBA is also working with a few state associations to develop their own Innovation Steering Committees. To that end, ICBA invited members of these state associations to participate in this year’s ThinkTECH Accelerator cohort. In addition, ICBA will continue to foster state-based efforts to launch Innovation Steering Committees to share knowledge and identify potential innovation partners at the local level.

Wherever you are in the process, it’s not too late to get involved. ICBA has a growing network of people and resources community banks can tap into as they continue their innovation journeys. Also, during ICBA LIVE 2022 attendees can witness for themselves how far these solutions have come during our ICBA ThinkTECH Live Showcase and visit with this year’s cohort at the ThinkTECH Accelerator Hub in the exhibit hall. Read more about ICBA LIVE »

We look forward to seeing you there!


Charles Potts (charles.potts@icba.org) is ICBA executive vice president and chief innovation officer