London Takes A Bite Out Of The Big Apple — Gets Its Own FinTech Innovation Lab

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Modelled after its New York-counterpart, London is to get its own FinTech Innovation Lab. Supported by the mayor of London, the City of London Corporation and the Technology Strategy Board, and backed by Accenture, leading banks and VCs, the new programme is designed to help financial tech startups “test and fine-tune their innovations” under the mentorship of executives from some of the major financial institutions who have a presence here in London, as well as the wider local investment community.

Anything that the Big Apple can do, London can do too.

It’s an interesting development when you consider that New York and London compete as major financial centres of the world — and the UK government’s ‘Tech City’ project to promote London as a leading technology hub. The startup scene here and the City of London financial sector have a rather uncomfortable relationship in the sense that the higher wages paid in the City’s banking sector for engineer talent has often been a factor in holding back London’s startups. Why would you want to work for a fledgling tech company when you can earn twice as much in the City, with added job security too. That changed slightly after the global financial meltdown (in which London was particularly exposed), giving rise to the recruitment fair Silicon Milkroundabout, which attempts to make the case for startup life over working for one of the city’s large financial institutions.

In a canned statement, the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, says: “London is the world’s number one financial centre and a global leader in technology innovation, which is why the FinTech quest for entrepreneurs is such an exciting proposition. The project has huge potential to help spur jobs and growth and I’m sure will attract some very bright minds whose inventions could help to revolutionise the financial services of this great city.”

Additional partners for FinTech Innovation Lab London, include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Business Growth Fund, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Euclid Opportunities, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, RBS, UBS, UK Business Angels Association, and VocaLink, the UK national payments infrastructure provider.

Meanwhile, the way the accelerator programme will work is described as follows:

  • The FinTech Innovation Lab London is open to early- and growth-stage companies that are developing cutting-edge technologies for the financial services sector – particularly in the areas of mobile, data management, analytics, security, and social media.
  • Chief technology officers and senior technology executives from the financial institutions will select six entrepreneurs to participate in the Lab through a competitive process.
  • To be accepted, applicants must have at least a beta version of their technology available, and demonstrate that access to senior-level executives at financial services firms would have a meaningful impact on the company’s growth prospects.
  • Lab participants from outside London are required to relocate to the city during the programme and are provided workspace.
  • The Lab consists of a twelve-week programme, in which participants are partnered with senior-level bank executives and successful technology entrepreneurs who will help them fine-tune and develop their technologies and business strategies through a series of workshops, panel discussions, user-group sessions, networking opportunities, one-on-one meetings and presentations.
  • It culminates with an Investor Day presentation by all six participants in front of an audience of venture capitalists and financial industry executives.

Interested financial tech startups have until November 1st to apply.