By Dipo Olowookere
Nigeria’s most innovative banking service provider, Heritage Bank Plc, has adopted a focused approach that removes barriers and galvanizes the critical sector of the economy around a bold growth agenda with the launching of its innovation accelerator programme tagged, “HB LAB”.
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 January 31, 2019, closed on February 14, 2019.
About 154 applicants who applied were reviewed and 24 of them scored above 60, whilst the final selection will produce seven successful applicants, which the winner will emerge.
Speaking on the HB LAB, MD/CEO of the bank, Mr Ifie Sekibo explained that in Nigeria, technology start-ups 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.
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.
Mr Sekibo stated 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 enlisted to participate 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.
Also, such participant discussed problem statement (not more than 140-character limit), ideation/solution stage (not more than 140 characters), target market (Max 150 words), any challenge(s) faced requiring professional intervention (Max. 150 words), introduced its team (Max 150 words) and upload business plan.
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