Startupbootcamp opens African accelerator


Startupbootcamp announced today the launch of their new accelerator program opening in Cape Town.

This global industry-focused accelerator group has 18 programs across 13 countries and has seen value in now setting up a footprint in Africa.

Startups from around the world can apply now to be part of the intense 3-month support program to be run in Cape Town.

The call for applications is focused on sourcing scalable technology solutions applicable to diversified financial services and related industries. The aim is to grow disruptive startups and connect them with dynamic corporates, providing both with an opportunity to collaborate and build the African tech ecosystem.

The launch of this first Startupbootcamp Cape Town programme in Africa comes post a trend analysis that found 161 applications to the global programme to have originated from African teams in 2016. Additionally, there were 5 South Africa FastTracks in 2015 and 3 in 2016. To date, Startupbootcamp has invested in 8 teams from Africa in total, 3 of which are in the current InsurTech cohort.

With this new and unique program, Startupbootcamp brings together top startups from around the world, a mentor network of renowned industry experts and entrepreneurs and major players in banking, insurance, consultancy, leasing and technology as founding partners. From a pool of hundreds of applications, Startupbootcamp Cape Town will select the 10 most promising teams, and will provide each team with EUR 15,000 100+ highly engaged mentors from the FinTech, InsurTech and RegTech industries, free office space, a convertible note, access to funding and a network of industry partners, investors and venture capital firms. The 3-month programme will kick off in September 2017.

Philip Kiracofe, co-MD of Startupbootcamp Cape Town highlighted: “The African tech and digital landscape is growing exponentially, and we firmly believe that the future of innovation will come from Africa. Cape Town is one of the most vibrant and creative hubs on the continent and we are both excited and humbled to contribute by attracting global expertise here. “

The accelerator is anchored by strong corporate sponsors that will support and grow the programme and selected startups. Global sponsors include Google cloud, Amazon web services, Intel, and Cisco.

Natacha Baumann, the Head of Innovation and Transformation at BNP Paribas Personal Finance for South Africa, the UK, the Nordics, Belgium and Germany said, “We are engaging in various open innovation initiatives around the world which is part of our transformation strategy. Like RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance is looking for innovative technologies to enhance the customer experience and to improve systems and processes. We are very enthusiastic to start the partnership with Startup Bootcamp in Cape Town what answers both our willingness to boost the cooperation with start-ups and will help in leveraging the potential of the African continent”.

Paul Mitchell, Fintech Lead for PwC South Africa said “We are very excited to be part of Startup Bootcamp’s first foray into Africa. Our clients recognise the disruption potential of fintechs and other startups, and we are helping many of them to harness the opportunities arising from this. Startup Bootcamp provides a great way for the industry incumbents to connect to startups, and to learn about their impact.”

To kick off, startups from all over the world are invited to present their ideas to the Startupbootcamp team at a series of ‘FastTrack’ days between May and July 2017. These FastTracks are being held globally in cities including Accra, Amsterdam, Cairo, Cape Town,Doha, Dubai, Johannesburg, Kampala, Lagos, London, Nairobi, Paris, and Tel Aviv.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, welcomed the accelerator to Cape Town: “Startupbootcamp’s decision to launch their African programme in Cape Town speaks to the business confidence they have in the Western Cape. The region has emerged as a centre for venture capital activity in South Africa. The majority of the country’s start-ups are based here and 75% of venture capital deals were concluded in this province. The onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is dismantling the barriers to entry in most industries, generating an increase in the number of people who can meaningfully participate in the economy. This is why we have prioritised the support of entrepreneurs in the Western Cape, and expanding access to affordable public internet. Startupbootcamp will play an important role in growing innovative entrepreneurs.”

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Wells Fargo & Company Announces $20M Expansion of CleanTech Innovation Incubator


Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) announced a $20m expansion of the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), a program that advances emerging clean technologies and startup companies.

Launched in 2014, the program was developed to speed the path to market for early-stage, clean-technology entrepreneurs. Its initial focus was to support scalable solutions to reduce the energy impact of commercial buildings, leveraging a network of channel partners for participant referrals. Companies selected for participation in the program receive up to $250k in non-dilutive funding from Wells Fargo, technical support and validation from experts at NREL’s facilities in Golden, Colo., and the opportunity to beta-test at a Wells Fargo facility or with a strategic program partner.
To date, the program has funded 20 early-stage startups from across the U.S. and has seen the exits of two Round 1 awardees via acquisition.

Now a $30m program co-administered by Wells Fargo and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), IN2 will leverage its commercialization model to build out additional verticals to drive innovation in sectors such as transportation, sustainable agriculture, energy storage and others.
The additional funding will also be used to develop a Channel Partner Award program to provide financial support for its more than 40 Channel Partners, made up of universities, business plan competitions, and other incubators, that maintain a pipeline of startup referrals to be considered for participation in IN2.

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Techstars partners Echelon, set to connect SEA startups across a 600-city network


By Chee Hui Ming for

 Curious about how to build your business wherever you choose to live? You don’t have to be in SV to benefit from APAC’s strongest startup community. Join Techstars and e27 on a journey from Penang, to Bangkok, to Singapore and Jakarta.

It is time for entrepreneurship to go beyond its trope of being one for the privileged – or exclusively for those living in Silicon Valley.

With a vision to reduce the degrees of separation between entrepreneurs globally, Techstars is set to make entrepreneurship more accessible by connecting founders from 905 cities across 6 continents, and established itself as a global ecosystem platform with an accelerator programme, venture capital arm, and global series of events and media platforms.

With 90% of its accelerator companies still active or acquired, having received over US $3B in total funding and almost US $8B in marketing capital – Techstars has always been one to watch.

Techstars partners with Echelon to solidify APAC expansion

In alignment, e27, with a goal of facilitating market entry and access across Southeast Asia, is set to address the key missing ingredients of ecosystem building. With e27’s extensive SEA platform and Techstars’ insights and networks, startups can join Echelon and benefit from a combined mission to rally communities, solve fragmentation, democratise access, and celebrate diversity in Southeast Asia 2017 and beyond. This is done through providing startups (no matter where or when) with access to insights, connections, talent and funding online on and offline at Echelon conferences.

“As we wrapped up our first Community Leaders Academy event in Malaysia together with MaGIC last week, we saw the region’s community builders come together to mark the beginning of an exciting leadership programme the Techstars team has planned”, says Oko Davaasuren, ‎Director of APAC Startup Programmes at Techstars. “Likewise, we look forward to bringing the region’s ecosystem builders to the Echelon series all across Southeast Asia as well.

Techstars’ partnership with MaGIC is designed not only to increase the level of entrepreneurial activity and new company creation in Malaysia but also to develop Malaysia as a global startup hub and a center of activity for Southeast Asia.

Just like Techstars, e27 believes that great entrepreneurs are everywhere and we want to help grow communities around the world by helping entrepreneurs build their businesses wherever they live. And yes – even Penang, Malaysia, a fitting city to kickstart this partnership!

How can startups tap on Echelon’s 2017 Roadmap with Techstars?

We hope to shine a spotlight with conversations around these topics as we work together towards providing global access to SEA entrepreneurs, and likewise, SEA entrepreneurs to global opportunities. As long as you are part of the community, we want you represented. Join us at the following Echelon pitstops this year to access:

  1. Insights: Chat and get guidance from hundreds of industry leaders and experts at Startup-only workshops and sharing sessions. Learn first hand from global TechStars representatives how you and your startup can give and gain from the key ingredients of fostering a thriving startup ecosystem: talent, density (intersection of great minds), culture, capital, and regulatory environment.
  2. Connections: Every 2 of 5 entrepreneurs and professionals joining us at every Echelon fly in to explore market access and expansion opportunities. This is your chance to find a strategic partner for your next business move.
  3. Talent: From 500 to 5,000 strong, our attendees form a curated pool of passionate, talented individuals to hire from or get hired by.
  4. Funding: With Echelon’s TOP100 programme relaunched and powered by startup-investor matching tool Echelon Connect, Asia’s most promising startups can now fundraise all year around, kickstart conversations months before andafter any conference, and make the most of their time.

About Echelon

Echelon is a conference and digital insights, connections, talent and funding platform to empower startups, investors and corporates to build and grow their businesses across APAC. Exclusively for this week of launch, enjoy 27% off your Startup pass for Echelon Thailand (Bangkok, May 15-16) and Echelon Asia Summit (Singapore, June 28-29).

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BNP Paribas and Plug and Play Launches Fintech /Insurtech Accelerator in Paris


By FinSMEs

Banking group BNP Paribas and global innovation platform Plug and Play have launched a Fintech and Insurtech acceleration program in Paris, France.

The 3 month Fintech and Insurtech acceleration program, held twice a year, will provide 10 startups with services including:
– Business plan coaching
– Business development opportunities
– Fundraising opportunities
– BNP Paribas’ business relationship manager support
– Plug and Play mentorship
– Networking events and speaker series

As from February 1st, 2017, startups can apply to join the acceleration program here.

BNP Paribas – Plug and Play joins a network of additional Plug and Play initiatives across Europe such as mobility with Daimler in Stuttgart, fashion and retail with Galleries Lafayette in Paris and a number of industries with Axel Springer in Berlin.

First appeared at FinSMEs

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France Builds its Innovative Power in Global FinTech Upon the Foundation of Talented Entrepreneurs


By Elena Mesropyan for LTP

While political uncertainties in Britain and the controversial situation in the US with the new administration may not be particularly catalytic for local startup communities, they certainly represent an opportunity for other markets to attract ‘fresh blood’. In that regard, France is one of the countries actively taking steps to bring in the top talent and facilitate the growth of its rich and vibrant FinTech ecosystem. An area of emphasis for the French government is to turn its economy into a magnet for skilled and savvy entrepreneurs that will push the boundaries in high-tech sectors, including financial technology.

The country knows the value of knowledge and has a history of focusing on talent – the foundation of any innovative nation. The approach becomes especially important and fruitful now, in 2017, given an opposite direction of actions from another leading hub – UK – which creates barriers for tech talent immigration.

“France has an abundance of well-known specialists in the finance and engineering industries. It doesn’t surprise me that the FinTech industry became an area of excellence for France. The French FinTech specialists are increasingly making their mark on the national and international landscape. Their new significance, their successes and the emergence of new subjects contributed to the creation of this association. This has now been accomplished,” notesAlain Clot, the President of the France FinTech Association.

Just mid-January, the French government pulled out the political guns to warm up conditions for international professionals – the country has established a French Tech Visa as part of the “Passeport Talent ” scheme which was launched in 2016. The French Tech Visa provided for four years on a renewable basis, aims to attract foreign tech talents: foreign startup and scale-up founders and employees, foreign talents joining a French startup or scale-up, and foreign investors and business angels.

French Tech Visa is not the first politically-bootstrapped initiative to turn the country into a talent magnet – in 2015, the French Secretary of State to the Minister of the Economy and Finance in charge of Digital and Innovation, Axelle Lemaire, announced the French Tech Ticket – a program designed for entrepreneurs from all over the world who want to create their startups in France. The French Tech Ticket is a one year program by the French government to attract gifted and ambitious individuals from all around the world and help them set up and develop their startup in France. The benefits for winning teams are fantastic: those who join the program receive various benefits which include a €45,000 grant per project with no loss of equity, a dedicated resident permit fast-track procedure for the winning teams and their family, dedicated space in one of partner incubators, dedicated workspace for the winning teams, access to services, events and training sessions provided by the incubator network, access to a senior mentor to support the startup’s growth and more.

France takes a strategic approach with long-term beneficial implications – the country focuses on the talent more than on anything else. In the interview with BI, Lemaire emphasized, “We have the conviction that the only way to seize all growth opportunities in the 21st century is to attract as many brains and talents as we can. In the global competition for these talents, we had to boost France competitiveness.”

The whole ecosystem in the country is tuned to create a climate for active, almost barrier-free, growth and development of innovative solutions in the financial sector and beyond. The success of that endeavor is indicated in numbers – from January to September 2016, FinTech investments in France increased by 71%, indicating growing interest in the segment. In Q3 2016, funding to French tech companies passed a record of $1.5 billion.

France also has an extensive incubator network that counts over 41 dedicated incubators (50 Partners, 104factory,Belle de Mai, Savoie Technolac, Paca-Est, EuraTechnologies, EM Lyon, Montpellier BIC, Paris Pionnières, and manymore) across 12 major cities nurturing the next generation of innovators. Among other attractive for startups and entrepreneurs hallmarks, Lemaire notes that France offers a truly supportive fiscal and legal framework for startups with entrepreneurs privileges and tax cuts for the corporation. “…and we wanted to complete it with a fast track visa dedicated to those who are likely to boost French startups growth with their knowledge, capital and creativity,” she added.

Additionally, the Paris FinTech Forum, which took place between January 25 and 26 was a great event organized by Laurent Nizri. It saw the who’s who of the European FinTech industry but also people from other continents. There were 120+ startup pitches mostly done by CEOs and our (Let’s Talk Payments’) co-founder Amit Goel was one of the judges. He also spoke at a session on emerging markets at the event.

Not only is the country building a strong and attractive local infrastructure for innovators, France is also building bridges to other ecosystems to pull up its rank and leverage connectivity. French Tech London, an official online hub of the French tech ecosystem in London, is one of the prominent examples of such bridges along with the new initiative to build a €1-billion-dollar French-German fund for startups. Another unprecedentedly large project is expected to launch in April 2017Station F, which is bound to become the world’s biggest startup campus, will certainly contribute to attracting attention to France as one of the leading startup hubs globally.

First appeared at LTP

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Scotiabank opens Digital Factory in Toronto


By Finextra

Scotiabank has opened a 70,000 square foot Digital Factory in downtown Toronto which will house 350 digital, design, engineering and agile experts working to improve customer experiences.

Located just a few blocks away from Scotiabank’s global corporate headquarters, the new facility is just one of a network of Digital Factories including sites in Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia intended to serve as incubators for new products and services for the Canadian bank’s 23 million customers around the world.

The Toronto location includes a ‘Customer Usability Lab’ to capture customer feedback during the build and design phase, and scrum-ready workspaces ranging from large huddle rooms to private meeting booths. Security in the building is enforced by a contactless biometric access control feature that captures and matches four fingerprints from a single hand movement.

Brian Porter, president and CEO, Scotiabank. “These creative workspaces are inspiring and encouraging entrepreneurism, accelerating delivery times and allowing our teams to sharpen their focus on meeting the needs of our customers. They are also playing an important role in spurring fintech innovation, productivity and job growth in their local markets.”

First appeared at Finextra

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