First Baltic fin-tech ac­cel­er­a­tor opens up

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Swed­bank head­quar­ters in Riga has be­come the home for B2B [busi­ness to busi­ness] ac­cel­er­a­tor Startup Wise Guys start-up sup­port pro­gramme. Nine start-ups from nine cor­ners of the world were picked from 80 con­tenders, as re­ported by Swed­bank rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

As part of Wise Guys Fin­tech pro­gramme, the nine in­ter­na­tional start-ups will spend the next three months in a dy­namic and ed­u­ca­tional en­vi­ron­ment, de­vel­op­ing their busi­nesses, found­ing con­tacts with bank­ing ex­perts from Baltic States and Swe­den, as well as other world-class men­tors. In ad­di­tion, par­tic­i­pants of the ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gramme will re­ceive EUR 20,000 to fur­ther de­velop their busi­ness.

The bank ex­plains that the pro­gramme gath­ers young busi­ness­men from Latvia, Swe­den, Czech Re­pub­lic, Poland, France, Ukraine, Ar­me­nia, In­dia and USA. Ideas from par­tic­i­pants of the ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gramme are aimed at fi­nan­cial so­lu­tions, such as pay­ment ser­vices us­ing Face­book Mes­sen­ger, con­trib­ute to the de­vel­op­ment of money sav­ing cul­ture, make cur­rency ex­change more ef­fi­cient for busi­nesses, video iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for clients, etc.

Aside from the ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gramme, Swed­bank has also cre­ated ad­di­tional space to ac­com­mo­date par­tic­i­pants of the pro­gramme. In the fu­ture, it will be home from all kinds of in­no­va­tive projects. «This is the first time in Baltic States when a bank opens its doors for fin-tech so­lu­tions and serves as a bridge to con­nect in­no­va­tive ideas with ex­pe­ri­ence and ac­cess to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. The gov­ern­ment is ac­tively in­volved in de­vel­op­ment of the ecosys­tem for start-ups and ap­pro­pri­ate leg­is­la­tion to help at­tract lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional in­vestors for com­pet­i­tive growth of those com­pa­nies,» said Lat­vian Econ­omy Min­is­ter Arvils Ašer­adens.

Con­tin­u­ing, he adds: «I am happy to see the global ac­cel­er­a­tor Startup Wise Guys had picked Riga as the lo­ca­tion for de­vel­op­ment and sup­port of goals set by start-ups. This is the next step to demon­strate trust be­tween fin-tech en­vi­ron­ment and large cor­po­ra­tions, cre­at­ing a plat­form for mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion.»

«We see the ac­cel­er­a­tor is a great op­por­tu­nity for find­ing co­op­er­a­tion part­ners and so­lu­tions with added value for our clients. Riga has all op­por­tu­ni­ties to present it­self as a city fin­tech-friendly and a place where creative ideas and in­no­va­tions bloom,» says Swed­bank Latvia man­ager Rei­nis Rube­nis. «Ac­cel­er­a­tor en­vi­ron­ment is chang­ing – the fu­ture be­longs to pro­grammes that work in spe­cific in­dus­tries and create syn­ergy with ma­jor busi­nesses. This is why we are happy to start co­op­er­a­tion with the largest and most in­no­va­tive bank in the re­gion. I think it will be ma­jor chal­lenge for Latvia – can we even get in­ter­na­tional start-ups in­ter­ested in stay­ing in Latvia,» says CEO of Startup Wise Guys Cris­to­bal Alonso.


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