OurCrowd Sets Up Tech Incubator in Israel with the Backing of Motorola, Reliance Industries & Yissum

OurCrowd, a leading equity crowdfunding platform, has partnered with Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI), Reliance Industries (NSE: Reliance) and Yissum Technology Transfer Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to operate an “innovation technology incubator” that will support the growth of early stage startups in Jerusalem.  The incubator will be based at OurCrowd headquarters located in the JVP Media Quarter campus. OurCrowd will be replacing Jerusalem Venture Partners, who previously led the incubator. The incubator will begin operations and accept applications in the second half of 2017. OurCrowd announced a partnership with Reliance Private Capital yesterday to provide access to early stage investments. Reliance Industries is one of the most profitable companies in all of India.

Israel has been a hotbed of innovation with a growing record of launching successful startups. The economic activity has driven 4% GDP growth in 2016 with the next several years expected to see an impressive 3.5% growth, according to the OECD. OurCrowd is a “natural fit” to launch an incubator as it has positioned itself as a global platform having raised over $440 million for 120 early stage companies. According to OurCrowd, the incubator will focus on technologies like Fintech, analytics, AI, storage, IoT, computer vision and, of course, big data.

“We are proud to be strengthening the Jerusalem tech-ecosystem together with strong partners such as Motorola Solutions, Reliance Industries and Yissum. This represents a unique team with a global reach, incredible scale, and with deep technological, commercial and academic roots. We expect to invest in close to 50 companies over the next 10 years and further grow the formidable cadre of Jerusalem startups,” commented Jon Medved, CEO of OurCrowd.

Eduardo Conrado, Executive Vice President of Strategy & Innovation Office for Motorola Solutions, said they were proud be part of this important project.

“In today’s technology environment, strong partnerships and strategic investments help accelerate innovation. The Jerusalem incubator is one element of our Israel innovation hub, which is focused on developing advanced solutions in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and other fields,” added Conrado.

A spokesperson from Reliance Industries said they were excited to further their long-term commitment to Israel with the partnership.

“We are confident of Israeli start-ups offering unique value proposition by delivering next-gen digital services. We believe the incredible technological innovation from Israel will gain immensely by addressing the huge Indian market riding on the nationwide 4G LTE digital infrastructure setup in India by Jio. This will be a significant win-win for both India and Israel.”

The incubator will be part of the Israeli incubator program administered by Israel’s National Innovation Authority (formerly the office of the Chief Scientist).

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Zopa Establishes Development Center in Barcelona

Peer to peer lender Zopa has established a development center in Barcelona, Spain. The new tech hub is said to initially focus on building the platform that will launch the next generation digital bank.  This will include deposit systems, credit card processing, payment gateways and more. Pretty much everything you need to create a new bank minus the bricks and mortar. In recent years, Barcelona has gained in prominence for being the entrepreneurial center of Spain. Setting up shop in Barcelona establishes a European foothold from which to further expand their services across Europe. This is not to mention the quality of life and fabulous weather that Barcelona may claim.

Zopa’s Chief Technology Officer, Ronen Benchetrit, said that as one of the worlds very first Fintech businesses, the have great pride in their tech and product delivery.

“Our mission at Zopa is to make money simple and fair, and our developers get the opportunity to build solutions to real world problems, whilst using the latest technology to deliver products in an agile manner. Barcelona has an exciting and fast growing tech scene and is already home to some of the world’s best tech talent. It also draws the best talent from all over the world, attracted by its vibrant culture.”

Didier Baclin, Head of Bank Build at Zopa, said the Barcelona operation will give them access to some of the best software engineers in the world. This will allow them to accelerate the development infrastructure to launch the challenger bank.

The new hub will sit alongside Zopa’s growing London Bridge based development teams. Developers working on the bank technology infrastructure will be split between London and Barcelona. Zopa said they remained focused on UK customers but clearly they have larger aspirations.

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Plug and Play partners with Japan’s biggest bank to launch Tokyo accelerator

By Jack Ellis For Tech in Asia

Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play has partnered with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MUFG), the financial services group that includes Japan’s biggest bank, to bring its combined startup accelerator and corporate innovation platform to the country.

Located in Tokyo, Plug and Play Japan is looking to work with domestic and foreign startups from any industry sector. Their technologies will be piloted with some of Plug and Play’s 33 Japanese corporate partners, which include Hitachi, Nissan, and Panasonic.

Replicating the Tech Center model it has developed in Silicon Valley, Plug and Play’s Japan operation will run multiple themed accelerator programs in Tokyo, each focused on a different vertical and lasting 12 weeks, in conjunction with various third parties. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ – MUFG’s flagship retail, corporate, and investment banking brand – has signed up as the first of these external partners.

“We see a significant untapped opportunity to create an ecosystem where innovators in Japan can collaborate and generate new solutions for Japanese corporations,” Plug and Play Japan managing partner Phillip Vincent said in a statement. “By setting up shop in our Japanese partners’ backyard, we hope to bridge the gap between Silicon Valley culture and innovation and Japanese industry.”

In addition to its accelerator programs, which have helped over 6,000 startups to date, Plug N Play also makes investments. These include seed fundings linked to its accelerator programs as well as stage-agnostic investments for businesses that have already raised their seed round. Plug and Play states that it has backed around 600 companies that have gone on to raise a total of US$6 billion in venture funding. Dropbox, PayPal, and Zoosk are among Plug and Play’s most high-profile exits.

While it may be the first such player in the Japanese capital that provides a cross-industry, “end-to-end” model including investment and corporate partnering, a number of other accelerator initiatives have previously been established in the city. Among these are Code Republic, Open Network Lab, and Samurai Incubate, as well as corporate-led platforms such as Docomo Innovation Village, KDDI Mugen Labo, and MUFG Digital Accelerator.

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Indian banks to work with five Startupbootcamp Mumbai graduates

Five of the eleven startups graduating from Startupbootcamp’s 2017 Indian accelerator programme have secured pilots with bank sponsors RBL and Icici.

The Demo Day drew in more than 400 guests, including investors from Nexus Venture Partners, Lightspeed Ventures and IDG Ventures, alongside corporate backers from the local fintech scene such as Icici Bank, RBL Bank, Capital First, Icici Lombard, PwC and AZB & Partners.

Selected from more than 300 applications across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, the shortlisted eleven companies underwent a three-month programme, where each team received personalised mentor and partner support, workshops, and one-to-one early stage guidance.

Five of the eleven won pilot trials with leading Indian banks, including

● Bitgram: A customer trust ‘SuperIdentity’ protocol for corporates, which uses a blockchain base to ensure data integrity, secured pilots with Icici bank and RBl bank.
● Canopi: A technology start up focused on disrupting the way small businesses raise working capital loans using their unpaid invoices partnered with RBL bank.
● Doboz: A retention-marketing platform which enables merchants/companies to create their own custom currency & loyalty programme through gift cards, promo codes, reward points & referral programmers won the support of Icici Bank and RBL Bank.
● mTrakr: A personal finance app that helps people manage, save and grow their money impressed Icici Bank.
● Rupie: Providing micro loans to the urban unbanked entirely on mobile phones will see its platforom tested by RBL Bank.

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Eight startups Rise up with Barclays

By Barclays

Barclays Bank is entering formal engagements with eight of the 11 startups to pass through its latest fifteen-week accelerator programme and spinning out an internal team as a separate company.

The accelerator graduates pitched their ideas to 250 people on a demo day held at Barclays’ new Rise London base in Shoreditch.

Barclays used the event to unveil the new facility, which houses internal banking and technology teams alongside more than 40 fintech startups.

Michael Harte, Barclays group head of innovation, says: “Financial Services is experiencing a period of major technological disruption. Rise, and specifically our Accelerator, has created a platform for experimentation, with new generation businesses and entrepreneurs, to build new products, services and platforms.”

Of the eleven startups emerging from the Accelerator, Barclays is spinning out an internal team as a separate company. Dubbed Nivo, the startup offers secure mobile messaging for smarter customer service, and will pilot with Barclays Premier.

Other startups to secure deals with Barclays, include: Simudyne, which is working with the bank’s risk team on scenario planning; predictive anti-fraud and outage startup Barac has been engaged by Barclays UK and Barclays International; digital receipt outfit Flux will get to run a pilot of its technology with over 10,000 Barclays customers; operational risk firm Alyne will help the bank beef up control functions and react to new regulations more effectively.

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Barclays opens Europe’s largest fintech site

Barclays has opened an innovation centre in London’s hipster capital Shoreditch housing internal banking and technology teams alongside more than 40 fintech startups.

The bank says its new site is Europe’s largest co-working space dedicated to fintech and will play host to more than 200 hours of learning, workshops, hackathons and networking on a monthly basis.

It is part of the Rise initiative, which has seen Barclays set up centres in New York, Manchester, Mumbai, Cape Town, Vilnius and Tel Aviv to create products, services and platforms along with startup partners.

Among the projects at the centres is the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, which has seen the bank go on to sign contracts with numerous participants in areas such as blockchain, AI and big data.

Group chief executive Jes Staley says that Barclays plans to be a technology leader, pointing to news last week of the creation of 750 new UK tech jobs.

He continues: “Fintech startups are at the front of the technology wave that is changing our industry. Through Rise, we glean important insights; we can actively experiment with emerging technologies, and we can spot early trends and new markets as they form. This allows our employees, customers and clients to do things faster, better and at lower cost.”

Michael Harte, group head, innovation, Barclays, adds: “For us, the more vibrant we make the fintech community, the greater the value contribution to customers and shareholders as well as to the financial services sector as a whole.”

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