Heritage Bank Plc has unveiled its innovation accelerator programme tagged: “HB LAB” and targeted at increasing the numbers of tech start-ups and contributing meaningfully to the economy. The move, according to the bank, is in line with its adoption of a focused approach that removes barriers and galvanizes the critical sector of the economy around a bold growth agenda.
The maiden edition of HB LAB is a 12-week programme, expected to provide technology start-ups with enabling environment, resources and support required to innovate and accelerate impactful solutions with the potential to radically improve financial inclusion/intermediation, agriculture and other related problems affecting critical sectors of the economy.
The application portal https://www.hblabs.com.ng, which was launched on the 31st January 2019 closed on the 14th February 2019, with about 154 applicants reviewed and 24 scored above 60, while the final selection will produce seven successful applicants, from which the winner will emerge.
The Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Ifie Sekibo, lamented that in Nigeria, technology start-ups still account for a relatively small share of all businesses.He said 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.He disclosed that the team with the most compelling solution will be awarded a $25,000 grant alongside access to workspace and IT infrastructure for solution testing and development for a defined period.
According to him, the HB Innovation Lab Programme is open to product development teams and technology driven start-ups across Nigeria. Sekibo noted that the critical areas of focus are Fintech, agriculture, education, digital, security and power, whilst noting that the application requirements include names, age, gender, contact number, home and email addresses of the participants.Meanwhile, for participants who have previously been enlisted in any entrepreneurial/innovation programme with a current website or demo reference point, were expected to discuss idea/solution not more than 140-character limit.