Hong Leong Bank picks 3 startups for pilot projects

HLB’s group managing director & CEO Domenic Fuda said this year’s launch pad was special as it was searching for startups who are adopting an agile mindset and thinking ahead of the imminent challenges of a post-pandemic era.

KUALA LUMPUR: Hong Leong Bank and Hong Leong Islamic Bank (HLB) has chosen three startups – Food Market Hub, Pay:Watch and ERTH (e-Waste Recycling Through Heroes) to work with on pilot projects.

In a statement on Thursday, it said these projects will address food security, gig economy and e-waste management respectively in the next six months.

The main objective is to cultivate a vibrant and competitive startup community that will disrupt, innovate and bring fresh ideas and solutions to the market.

These startups are the winners of the third edition of HLB Launchpad 2020, a startup mentorship platform. The collaborators are MDEC, Cradle Fund, MaGIC, Malaysian Business Angel Network (MBAN) and pitchIN.

HLB said this year’s launch pad theme “Reboot: Thriving together in the new normal” was to identify startups with innovative solutions that are digital, adaptable and sustainable to help Malaysians adapt and thrive in this new and next normal.

HLB’s group managing director & CEO Domenic Fuda said this year’s launch pad was special as it was searching for startups who are adopting an agile mindset and thinking ahead of the imminent challenges of a post-pandemic era.

“As a bank with an entrepreneurial DNA and heritage, we practice a culture of experimentation with a constant feedback loop between data, technology, clients and talent between the Bank and the startup ecosystem. Together, we can learn from one another and innovate future solutions that meet the progressing demands of the economy and the environment.

“We are very excited to collaborate with Food Market Hub, Pay:Watch and ERTH to build a vibrant community and a sustainable environment that will greatly benefit the lives and livelihoods of all Malaysians for the next normal, ” Fuda said.

The winner, Food Market Hub is a F&B ecosystem provider that integrates the entire value chain of farm-to-restaurant. It uses disruptive technology to take traditional F&B procurement process to the next level, such as using predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to forecast demand as a means to increase food security and reduce food waste in the country.

The first runner-up Pay:Watch is a startup that partners with employers and banks to provide gig workers instant access to earned wages, in real time, before pay day.

The ‘instant pay’ feature allows gig workers to instantly withdraw or top up prepaid cards from earned wages.

They also analyse data on how workers “work-earn-spend-save”, which is shared with the banks to match the gig workers with affordable financial products and minimise their likelihood of borrowing from informal lenders in this challenging economic climate.

Second runner-up ERTH is a startup that offers electronic waste recycling service that buys end-of-life personal electronics such as PCs, laptops, smartphones, for recycling.

This service will be especially beneficial for the environment as the home-centric culture and lifestyle due to the pandemic has seen a proliferation of electronic devices purchased and used.

ERTH offers free pick-up service and pay higher prices for e-waste than public recycling centers due to their unique accelerated supply chain from consumer to recovery.

On top of being able to work with HLB on pilot projects, Food Market Hub was rewarded with RM50,000 cash prize while the two runners-up Pay:Watch and ERTH received RM25,000 each.

HLB’s digital & innovation head Shailesh Grover said these solutions are especially relevant in today’s world disrupted by the global Covid-19 crisis.

The pandemic exposed many vulnerabilities across almost all industry sectors, which in turn increased the need for resilience. It is extremely reassuring to see a thriving community of startups that have seized the opportunity to pivot and evolve their business to meet the ever-changing needs of our community.

“The potential demonstrated by the startups reaffirms our belief that platforms such as the HLB LaunchPad remains important to foster win-win partnerships between the startup ecosystem and corporates. We look forward to having the finalists onboard on a collaborative and fruitful journey, ” Grover said.

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