The winners of the first edition of the Heritage Bank Innovation Lab Accelerator programme (HB Lab) received financing worth $25,000 from one of Nigeria’s innovative banks, Heritage Bank. The bank gave this grant as part of its endeavor to encourage the Nigerian agenda and objective of being the best Information Communication Technology (ICT) Hub in Africa.
The Intent of the HB Lab Programme.
The HB Lab programme tagged ‘Demo Day’ is intended to aid technology startups that need investments to increase and stimulate the market introduction/acceptance of their solutions and also provide them with co-working spaces, information technology infrastructure, guidance and mentorship with seed funding.
Seven tech startups competed at the programme and Trep Labs had the most fascinating solution. This left them as the winner, and they received the cash price of N10 million. Ladipomarket.com emerged as the 1st runner up and won the cash prize of N5million.
The MD/CEO of Heritage bank, Ifie Sekibo, said the bank is aware that it is in the country’s best interest to concentrate on the sustainable growth of the technology and industrial sector. According to him, Nigerian youths are gifted and the future is in their hands and the bank is devoted to exploiting these talents for economic growth.
Technology and Economic Growth.
He stated that technology startups in Nigeria amount to just a small share of available businesses; regardless the sector contributes immensely to the growth of the economy, as jobs in the sector pay better and last longer than those in start-ups found in other sectors. They also strengthen productivity, competitiveness and innovation. He said starting a business is one of the most difficult stages in the life of a business – startups do not easily get resources such as adequate financing and human resources.
“However, the presentations we have seen today show 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 will go back to our laboratory and create something bigger for the upcoming editions,” Ifie Sekibo said.
Artificial Intelligence and the Banking Industry.
Sekibo was asked about his opinion on the use of Artificial Intelligence by banks. He responded that “Technology has been playing a key role towards enhancing the banking sector. 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.”
Regarding artificial intelligence, Alayande Abiola, the co-founder of TREP Labs said the 10 million naira winning prize money would enhance the growth of the lab’s clinical solutions. They now have the capacity to conclude their clinical trials, upgrade the product development process and also provide adequate healthcare solutions to health issues affecting the country.
Ikenna Imo, Divisional Head, Innovation and Partnership of Heritage Bank, made it clear that the bank welcomed seven gifted startups with the intention of creating unique propositions that would solve the country’s current issues. He concluded that he was not skeptical about the fact that the startups that emerged as winners after a thorough and competitive selection process would achieve this feat.
For the past 12 weeks, HB Lab had entertained several business partners and owners within the tech space. These businesses have shared their development process with HB Lab. The essence is to inspire and transmit business know-how to the intending and new tech startups.
A Few Tech Companies Present at the Program.
Some mentors present at the programme included Gbenga Awe of Heritage Bank Plc, Tosin Eniolorunda of TeamApt, Abolore Salami of Riby, Deji Oduntan of Gokada, Muyiwa Faulkner of Mines, Shile Owoka of Smile Identity, Moses Sule of Oradian, etc.
A Major Corporate Social Responsibility of Heritage Bank.
Heritage Bank Plc remains devoted to supporting continuous value creation, using technology as a means to ensure improvement and equally favorable partnerships.