While we are mired in Zoom and gloom because of pandemic-induced partial or full lockdowns, it is comforting to know that the push for financial technology innovation is moving full speed ahead.
Since Oct. 19, the backers of the FinTech Innovation Lab New York have been accepting applications for the 2021 lab program. The financial technology entrepreneurs that will be members of the class of 2021 will take part in 12 weeks of focused mentorship with professionals in banking, insurance, and asset management. The collaboration is intended to yield disruptive technologies that just may jumpstart financial services.
In its 11th year, this special program, co-founded by consultancy Accenture and the Partnership Fund for New York City, targets early- and growth-stage financial technology companies that want to accelerate product and business development via in-depth collaboration and support from venture capital firms.
Participation in the lab is decided via a competitive process. Chief technology officers (CTOs) and senior technology executives from 43 participating financial service and insurance firms review and select the companies for the 2021 Lab, slated to start April 2021.
“Applicants must have at least a working beta version of their technology that is ready to be tested for either the institutional or retail market,” according to fintech lab officials. The Lab collaboration between the fintech entrepreneurs and senior-level executives, “will help them develop and refine their technologies and business strategies through a series of one-on-one meetings, panel discussions, user-group sessions and networking opportunities.”
The high point of the effort will take place in June 2021 with Demo Day, “where participants will present to an audience of venture capitalists and financial industry executives,” officials say. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 FinTech Innovation Lab was conducted virtually, with participating financial institutions and venture capitalist firms continuing to deliver the mentoring and feedback that has made the Lab unique. The 2021 Lab is expected to be conducted virtually again.”
The innovation lab is credited with putting New York City on the fintech map.
In fact, Maria Gotsch the president and CEO of the Partnership Fund for New York City, noted in a recent FTF News Q&A, that the pioneering lab helped New York City become an influential a hub for innovation.
“Oh, absolutely,” Gotsch says. “We are the second largest tech sector in the world and FinTech is a key part of that. And I think particularly in enterprise, because you can pull in deep domain experts and pair them with technologists.” (The Q&A with her can be found here https://bit.ly/2GfA8ig.)
The Partnership Fund is the $170 million investment arm of the Partnership for New York City. Gotsch oversees the FinTech Innovation Lab, which she helped launch in 2010. In fact, she was chosen for the Editor’s Choice award, a key honor of the FTF News Technology Innovation Awards for 2020.
For the 2021 program, officials from the lab report that senior executives at the participating financial institutions want innovation for seven major areas:
- Cloud Computing: “Cloud management and migration at speed, security, multi-cloud, and cloud user interface / user experience;”
- Cyber-Tech: “Cyber resiliency, security, and fraud detection;”
- Data: “Predictive analytics, synthetic data, and alternative sources to inform business decision making, governance, visualization, enhancements and automation;”
- Digital Engagement: “Digital client and partner engagement including customer acquisition and experience, and product customization;”
- Enterprise IT: “Solutions addressing information technology and engineering needs including DevOps, engineering efficiencies and automation, and application portfolio rationalization and management;”
- Future of Work: “Collaboration among stakeholders in the remote work environment, including virtual deal management, talent development and organizational management;”
- And Sustainability: “Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG); financial health and inclusion; organizational culture; and diversity and inclusion programs.”
Information about the application process for the 2021 class can be found here https://bit.ly/3kHlEq8 The deadline for applying is Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.
The current pandemic and its ongoing challenges are making the case for fintech innovation.
“COVID-19 has made clear that financial institutions have to accelerate their innovation and digitization efforts; firms that made strides in cloud, data and analytics and security have shown a higher-level of operational resilience and were able to move faster to meet their customers’ evolving needs,” says David Treat, a managing director in Accenture’s Financial Services practice, in a prepared statement.