Private-sector lender HDFC Bank's Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) will mentor and handhold fin-tech startups incubated at the country's top engineering and business schools.
Under the initiative, Industry Academia, the bank has initially partnered with over 50 institutes including IIT Bombay, IIT Roorkee, and IIM Ahmedabad's Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE).
"The objective is to identify potential fin-tech ideas at incubation and entrepreneurship cells in these institutes at a nascent stage, and help them evolve into a consumer-ready product," HDFC Bank said in a statement.
The bank will use its domain expertise to mentor startups on customer experience, and reduction of time to market and costs, among other things. Startups will get HDFC Bank’s platform to test their ideas in the real world.
“Normally, academic research ends at the proof-of-concept stage with a few scholarly publications and rarely does one find these ideas maturing into a product, or a prototype that is ready for adoption.
Sustained interactions with the industry can lead to a more focussed approach towards academic research and encourage taking the next logical step to product development and testing,” said Prof. Manish Shrikhande, Dean - Incubation and Innovation, IIT Roorkee.
Fin-tech, which spans payments and lending solutions to blockchain and robo-advisory, is currently one of the hottest sectors for early-stage ventures. Banks have also jumped onto the bandwagon as the landscape of the country's financial services industry undergoes a makeover.
Earlier this year, India’s fifth-largest private-sector lender Yes Bank launched a business accelerator programme called Yes Fintech. The programme looks to support and nurture solutions in financial services delivery, create scalable businesses, deploy innovative technologies within a collaborative framework, and integrate such technologies into the bank’s ecosystem by providing digital infrastructure support.
Last year, Axis Bank, another private-sector lender, launched Thought Factory, which is aimed at accelerating innovative technology solutions for the banking sector. The bank recently selected three fin-tech startups from the first batch of its accelerator programme, whose solutions it will commercially deploy at its business units.