In DBS' latest initiative, the bank and its clients are matched with start-ups to help each other

impress.ai chief executive Sudhanshu Ahuja (back row, second from left) and Every Botty chief executive Shane Kelly (second from right) with members from DBS’ Innovation Group, led by Mr Bidyut Dumra (seated on the ground).
impress.ai chief executive Sudhanshu Ahuja (back row, second from left) and Every Botty chief executive Shane Kelly (second from right) with members from DBS’ Innovation Group, led by Mr Bidyut Dumra (seated on the ground).PHOTO: DBS

SINGAPORE - DBS Bank on Tuesday (Oct 30) launched Startup Xchange, a programme matching the bank and its enterprise clients with start-ups and their new technologies so as to find solutions to business problems.

The programme is focused on four areas of "frontier technology" that will help businesses stay relevant in the long run, said DBS. They are artificial intelligence (AI), data science, immersive media and the Internet of Things.

Unlike a start-up accelerator, Startup Xchange will not invest in or run an intensive three-month programme to groom start-ups. Instead, the programme brings in start-ups to co-create solutions with DBS and the bank's corporate and small and medium enterprise (SME) clients to solve business pain points.

Since its pilot launch several months ago, Startup Xchange has matched 21 start-ups with DBS and its clients, resulting in the successful rollout of 10 emerging technology solutions to-date, said DBS. Another ten solutions are expected to be launched over the next 12 months.

Startup Xchange also allows start-ups to showcase the solutions they developed for DBS, and to name the bank as an anchor client when raising capital with the investor community, DBS said.

For instance, Singapore-based AI startup impress.ai has partnered DBS' human resources team to create JIM, a virtual bank recruiter. Following the partnership, impress.ai has raised US$1.2 million and seen a five-fold increase in monthly revenues, said DBS.

To boot, the start-up is now working with 15 large enterprise customers, including AXA, NTUC Income and Singtel.

 
 

Bidyut Dumra, head of DBS' innovation group, said Startup Xchange is a win-win for both the bank and the start-up community.

"Start-ups sometimes have the brightest minds to develop the most cutting-edge technology solutions but they lack an anchor client and continuous funding. Startup Xchange is great as it helps the ecosystem of start-ups, DBS and its customers to commercialise emerging technology solutions to quickly achieve shared business goals."

To start with, DBS has launched the Startup Xchange programme in its two largest markets, Singapore and Hong Kong. DBS said the programme is part of a five-year $10 million investment made by the bank in 2015 to support the development of start-ups.

DBS said its research found that 78 per cent of accelerators launched in Singapore over the past three years are now defunct as many start-ups had failed without the continued support from established sponsors and partners.