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New scheme matches DBS and clients with tech start-ups


DBS Bank has officially started a programme that matches the bank and its enterprise clients with tech start-ups to find solutions to business problems.

The Startup Xchange initiative is focused on four areas of “frontier technology” that will help companies stay relevant – 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-sized enterprise clients.

Since its pilot launch several months ago, Startup Xchange has matched 21 start-ups with DBS and its clients, resulting in the successful roll-out of 10 emerging technology solutions, DBS said yesterday. A further 10 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 investors.

For instance, Singapore-based AI start-up has partnered DBS’ human resources team to create JIM, a virtual bank recruiter. Following the partnership, has raised US$1.2 million (S$1.7 million) and seen a five-fold increase in monthly revenues, noted DBS. The start-up is now working with 15 large enterprise customers, including AXA, NTUC Income and Singtel.

Mr 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,” he added.

DBS has launched the Startup Xchange programme in its two largest markets, Singapore and Hong Kong. It said the programme is part of a five-year, $10 million investment 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 continued support from established sponsors and partners.