Heritage Bank Plc has given $40, 000 grants to winners of the maiden edition of HB Innovative Lab.
The maiden edition of Heritage Bank Innovation Lab Accelerator programme (HB-LAB) tagged, ‘Demo Day,’ is a 12-week programme, expected to provide technology start-ups seeking additional investments to progress and accelerate market introduction/adoption of their solutions with co-working and internet resources, guidance and mentorship and seed funding.
The project is part of its efforts to support Nigeria’s aspiration and roadmap to become a leading Information Communication Technology (ICT) Hub in Africa.
However, the bank’s commitment is to create enabling environment, resources and support required to innovate and accelerate impactful solutions with the potential to radically improve financial Inclusion/Intermediation, health, automobile, agriculture, and other related problems affecting critical sectors of the economy.
At the grand finale of the programme, of the seven groups, Trep Labs-Real Drip emerged the winner with the most compelling solution won the N10 million, whilst Ladipomarket.com.ng won the N5 million prize, as the first runner-up, which is equivalent of $40, 000.
Speaking at the event, the MD/CEO of the bank, Ifie Sekibo, said the bank knew it was in the best interest of the country to pay attention to the development to the technology and industrial sector. According to him, “the future of the country lies in the hands of its youth. Our youths are talented, and Heritage Bank is committed to harnessing this talent to grow the economy.”
He noted that although in Nigeria, technology startups still account for a relatively small share of all businesses, but they have an outsized impact on economic growth, because they provide better-paying, longer-lasting jobs than other start-ups, and they contribute more to innovation, productivity, and competitiveness.
Sekibo explained further, “Newly starting up a business is part of the most difficult stage of the business, you would need to source for capital and manpower. Considering the fact that you are a new business those items are not so easy and cheap for you to acquire.
“However, the presentations we have seen today shows how gifted Nigeria is with human resources, our youths have demonstrated that the country still has a beautiful future.
“I am impressed with the start-ups, after six weeks of drilling and grooming they have been able to develop up to this point; everyone is a winner tonight as far as I am concerned.
“Based on the success of this maiden edition we are going to continue this initiative, we would go back to our laboratory and create something bigger for the upcoming editions.”
When asked what he felt about Artificial Intelligence being used in banks, he explained: “Technology has been playing a key role towards enhancing the banking sector. Thus, we saw the need to create an Artificial Intelligence product called Octopus, which has been piloted and its second edition is almost ready for launching.
On his part, the Co-founder TREP Labs, Alayande Abiola, said, “Emerging as first place and winning the ten million naira is going to help the growth of our clinical solutions.
“Now we would be able to complete our clinical trials, optimise our products development and also provide enough healthcare solutions that are battling with the country.”
Earlier, the bank’s Divisional Head Innovation and Partnership, Ikenna Imo, explained: “Twelve weeks ago we welcomed seven talented and diverse start-ups, at that time our intentions were clear that we were ready to create distinctive propositions that solves issues facing the country currently.
“Today, I have no doubts that the start-ups we have assembled after a selective and competitive process have what it takes to accomplish that.