London Innovation Lab seeks second round of FinTech startups

The second annual FinTech Innovation Lab is calling for applications from early-stage financial technology entrepreneurs

The second annual FinTech Innovation Lab has opened its applications to attract early-stage entrepreneurs to the capital.

The 12-week programme, run by Accenture, aims to accelerate product development in the financial services sector by providing mentoring, workshops and networking for early-stage companies.

Accenture is keen for the programme to incorporate companies which are creating innovative products in the areas of mobile payments, big data and analytics, security, and social media.

The programme involves executives from financial institutions including Bank of America, Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Lloyds Banking Group, Morgan Stanley, RBS and UBS.

It also has support from the Mayor of London, City of London Corporation and UK Trade & Investment, along with independent advisors Euclid Opportunities, the Technology Strategy Board and UK Business Angels Association.

Opening doors for UK tech startups

Technology officers and executives will select six startups to participate in the 12-week programme, through which they will be partnered with bank executives and successful technology entrepreneurs to develop their products and business strategies.

The programme will end with an Investor Day presentation in March 2014, where the six companies will pitch to venture capitalists and financial industry executives.

“[Being involved with a hub] plants both feet firmly inside the door, when previously you struggled to get a toenail in,” said Rich Newton from startup Calltrunk, which took part in the Accenture Innovation Lab 2012. “You then leverage that to build commercial relationships.”

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Innovative technology for banking

Alistair Grant, CIO for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Citi, was a mentor in last year's Innovation Lab. He told Computer Weekly that he’d happily repeat working with companies which were appropriate to Citi’s technology portfolio. 

The bank is also still in conversations with a number of the startups about their offerings. “We met a number of startups through that initiative. From our perspective, it enables us to bring the outside in, and choose what to bring into Citi from a whole branch of different startups. Big data, cloud, agile computing – we’re really keen on all of those areas, and it was great to work with startups thinking in the same vein – just a little bit quicker than we are,” he said.

But Grant did not go into the mentorship with the specific aim of securing commercial contracts. “I put aside thoughts of commercial activity until the programme finished, as I felt the important thing was to do genuine end-to-end sponsoring – mentoring on how companies could be successful in a corporate environment, anywhere across the financial sector,” he said.

“I didn’t want them getting bogged down in how it worked specifically for Citi. Once the programme finished, if we wanted to talk to them further, there was a different way to approach it.”

Of the many technologies and threats emerging in financial services IT, Grant believes that Citi must keep working on intrusion detection. As a result, he mentored startup Digital Shadows, which develops technology for the “darker side” of the internet.

“There are a lot of very sophisticated groups who look to disrupt services for major banks, and it’s not limited just to banks these days,” he said. “As these attacks get more sophisticated, we have to be really on our game to make sure we have the best possible detection capability implemented in our systems, and at the very least be able to react very quickly if there is a new attack.”

Another successful startup from last year’s Innovation Lab is Growth Intelligence. The company tracks the performance activity of every registered company in the UK by analysing their online activity. This web behaviour information is collated in real time by searching and analysing vast amounts of publicly available data from the internet.

In recent research it found that there are nearly 270,000 active digital companies in the UK, compared with the government’s previous estimation of 167,000.

The closing date for applications to this year’s Innovation Lab is 8 September 2013. 

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