The DBS Fintech Accelerator programme kicked off day one in Hong Kong on Monday for its second edition in 2018.

A cohort of six eager startups have been selected for the programme, run by Hong Kong venture capital group Nest, in conjunction with the Singapore-headquartered bank.

The programme targets late-stage startups and has shortlisted the following startups into its batch: Cube, Cyber Productivity, Dov-E, Hyper Anna, Prive, and Fractal Labs.

They will undergo a 12-week programme aimed at finding innovative solutions for pre-defined opportunities at the bank.

Startups benefit from the usual gamut of offerings including mentorship, networking opportunities, and access to resources. They also have the unique opportunity to access Nest and DBS’ own respective expertise in the fields of funding and educational offerings.

Unlike many traditional accelerator programmes, the Nest-DBS arrangement is a true partnership in that DBS seeks innovative solutions to genuine requirements, and where equity is not a requirement of entry. To date, the Nest partnership has yielded some exceptional developments for the Singapore-based bank too. The pilot programme was launched in 2015, leveraging the VC firm’s expertise in executing accelerator programmes.

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Initially, DBS took an experimental approach, admitted Matthew Ng, Head of Strategic Planning and Transformation.

“Our approach in 2015 was very open, and less focussed than it is now. It was a trial run to see what we could learn. Fortunately, it yielded some surprising cultural developments as it allowed our staff to see how external, non-bank companies operated. The programme also matched our adoption of agile methodologies; and in turn, it further entrenched the practice into our staff’s psyche and cultural practices.”

Since that time, the programme has become more focussed and targeted under the guidance of Nest. Each iteration of the programme now starts with “Problem Statements” – business pain points pre-defined by DBS Management. These are issues that the bank has identified a need for innovative solutions. Nest’s programme manager then goes out to market, or oftentimes directly to their database of historic applicants, and shortlists a group of up-to 20 potential startups, and presents them to DBS. This group is further whittled down to a mere handful. The focused approach has resulted in an increased number of proof-of-concepts, benefiting both the bank as well as participating startups.

The accelerator programme has become a valuable branding exercise for the bank as well. DBS has benefited from Nest’s global outreach activities too. Through its partnership with Nest, the bank has inadvertently become an institution known for its embracement of technology and innovation.

Just as importantly, Nest has enabled DBS to be planted firmly on the radars of startups from across the globe. This cohort alone include founders from Sydney, London, and Tel Aviv to name a few, all operating in the specific area of AI and machine learning, but with slightly different takes on the science.

For its part, Nest’s role is more than that of an accelerator. Nest’s partnership with DBS -and other corporates- means that it is bridge connecting ‘Problem Statements’ and the many startups ready and willing to provide innovative solutions.

Image Credit: DBS Accelerator