Hong Leong Bank invites technology startups and fintechs to pitch on HLB Launchpad 2020 that offers up to RM50,000 cash prize

HONG LEONG BANK (HLB) is calling for startups in the fintech and technology space to take on the challenge of co-creating innovative solutions with the bank to help Malaysians thrive in what is now the new norm, under its fintech and tech startups mentorship platform HLB Launchpad.

Now in its third edition, HLB Launchpad 2020 is a collaborative partnership that brings together HLB in collaboration with MDEC, Cradle Fund, MaGIC, Malaysian Business Angel Network (MBAN) and Pitchin under a common vision to cultivate a vibrant and competitive startup community that will disrupt, innovate and bring fresh ideas and solutions to the market.

Open to any startup which has a presence in the Malaysian market, this year’s HLB Launchpad carries the theme of Reboot: Thriving Together in the New Normal.

The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed many aspects of our lives – from the way we live, work, shop and bank. HLB Launchpad 2020 will focus on three themes: Being Digital, Adaptable and Sustainable.

The bank has identified over 15 problem statements, and will invite applicants to address them with solutions – from digitalising and simplifying customer journeys, creating new experiences in financial services to helping business customers find new ways to grow digitally.

HLB group managing director and chief executive officer Domenic FudaHLB group managing director and chief executive officer Domenic Fuda

“2020 was to be a continuation of South-East Asia’s thriving startup ecosystem, instead it took an extraordinary turn where the Covid-19 health and economic crisis grabbed the headlines,” said HLB group managing director and chief executive officer Domenic Fuda.

“However, it did highlight the need for digital options in everything we do. The crisis has brought about many opportunities for innovation, pushing us to reimagine the way we do banking, and more importantly, it validates the importance of our digital-at-the-core strategy and the need for us to continue to reimagine financial services.

“Many startups and businesses also pivoted towards a digital business model to remain in operations during this challenging period.

“Collaborating with the fintech and startup ecosystem will strengthen our resolve to innovate in our quest to remain relevant to the evolving needs and demands of customers in this new normal.

“The HLB Launchpad platform enables us to identify and work with the best breed of fintech startups in the country, proven through the track record established from our two previous editions in which 80% of the firms we worked with received private and public funding and 20% of the finalists are working closely with or are in partnership with the bank today whereby most of them are part of our SME Digital Business Solutions that we provide to our clients,” added Fuda.

Learning from the pandemic, sustainability and resiliency are two key ingredients to not only survive but navigate and thrive in this new normal.

Hence, this year, the third pillar for the HLB Launchpad is sustainability, squarely aligned with HLB’s emphasis on integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) elements and best practices into the bank’s operations.

Startups keen to apply for the 2020 HLB Launchpad are required to have at least one of the sustainable development goals (SDG) as an essence of their solution(s) as well as practices in place to manage and mitigate ESG risks identified in their operations.

Launching startups to the next level

A total of 40 participants will be shortlisted to join a pitching round and from there, 12 participants will then be shortlisted again after the pitching period to be part of a one-month programme whereby they are allowed to pilot and explore their solutions with the bank.

The outcome of the pilot programme will be presented in the final pitching session.

The winner of HLB Launchpad 2020 will win a cash prize of RM50,000, whereas the top two runner-ups will also earn a cash prize of RM25,000 each.

Additionally, startups stand to gain immense benefits by being part of the HLB Launchpad 2020 programme. They will have the opportunity to tap into:

• Hong Leong Group’s regional businesses across financial services, manufacturing, property development, hospitality & leisure, and healthcare.

• Jumpstart@65, a state-of-the-art community space with facilities such as event space, co-working space and usability labs, etc.

• iStart, a program that provides the tools in banking facilities, such as a business current account and micro-financing, as well as digital solutions to enhance their business.

• Networking opportunities between the bank, its clients and partners to be able to build on their success to date.

Previous winners were Dropee and SalesCandy, with former finalists including Kakitangan, and Biztory who are not only part of HLB’s SME Digital Business Solutions for customers, but additionally have also expanded their business to others within and outside the financial industry.

Launchpad 2020 partners

Gopi Ganesalingam, VP, Global Growth Acceleration, MDEC: “Corporations like HLB possess market knowledge, resources, established networks and the validation that startups aspire to attain; while startups possess the agility, grit and novel ideas that corporations value. Together, they create a symbiotic force that propels MNCs and SMEs to take a digital leap and to sustainably resolve pressing business, environmental and social issues via inventive tech solutions.”

Dzuleira Abu Bakar, CEO, MaGIC: “Corporates play an important role as they are one of the key components of the startup ecosystem. Collaboration between corporates and startups is imperative in the development of a sustainable startup ecosystem. They have the capacity to adopt and tap into the startup community to find innovative solutions to organisational or industry challenges, while startups gain market access and exposure to market leaders.”

Rafiza Ghazali, CEO, Cradle: “The discovery and spread of Covid-19 have led many governments to take drastic measures resulting in exogenous shock to many economic sectors, including the innovative start-ups ecosystem. The HLB Launchpad proves the commitment given by HLB in creating a more vibrant and impactful entrepreneurial community together with other ecosystem players. The programme illustrates the effectiveness of collaborations in value-adding to the startup community, to help them grow to the next level.”

Alan Lim, president, MBAN: “The entrepreneurship journey of a startup is a lonely one, and like it or not, they too have to deal with a multitude of competition. So, the answer lies in a corporate and startup partnership that will deliver a host of advantages that can assist them on their journey from ideation to execution by providing market access through corporate accelerators, mentorship, funding and access to business connections and associations.”

Sam Shafie, CEO, pitchIN: “It is increasingly important for startups that exist in a highly regulated space to lean on a partner that has extensive customer segments. This is where programmes such as the HLB Launchpad does best. This will help the startups to have better understanding of the market and will also assist them to manoeuvre a crowded and competitive ecosystem."

Technology startups and fintechs interested to be part of HLB Launchpad 2020 can find out more information at Applications are open until Sept 25, 2020.

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