Hong Leong Bank chooses 3 startups to work on pilot projects addressing food security, gig economy and e-waste management

Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director and CEO, Hong Leong Bank

Hong Leong Bank and Hong Leong Islamic Bank has chosen three startups, Food Market Hub, Pay:Watch and ERTH (e-Waste Recycling Through Heroes) to work with on pilot projects addressing food security, gig economy and e-waste management respectively in the next six months.

These startups are the winners of the third edition of HLB Launchpad 2020, a startup mentorship platform that brings together collaboration with MDEC, Cradle Fund, MaGIC, Malaysian Business Angel Network (MBAN) and pitchIN under a common vision to cultivate a vibrant and competitive startup community that will disrupt, innovate and bring fresh ideas and solutions to the market.

This year’s Launchpad carried the theme “Reboot: Thriving Together in the New Normal” and was focused on identifying startups with innovative solutions that are Digital, Adaptable and Sustainable to help Malaysians adapt and thrive in this new and next normal.

According to Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of HLB, it’s important that we look forward and play a role in not only adapting but shaping a new reality through collaboration and partnerships to better the lives of all Malaysians beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

“This year’s LaunchPad was special as we were specifically in search of startups who are adopting an agile mindset and thinking ahead of the imminent challenges of a post-pandemic era. As a Bank with an entrepreneurial DNA and heritage, we practice a culture of experimentation with a constant feedback loop between data, technology, clients and talent between the Bank and the startup ecosystem. Together, we can learn from one another and innovate future solutions that meet the progressing demands of the economy and the environment.

“We are very excited to collaborate with Food Market Hub, Pay:Watch and ERTH to build a vibrant community and a sustainable environment that will greatly benefit the lives and livelihoods of all Malaysians for the next normal.”

Food Market Hub, who emerged as the winner, is a F&B ecosystem provider that integrates the entire value chain of farm-to-restaurant. They use disruptive technology to take traditional F&B procurement process to the next level, such as using predictive analytics and AI to forecast demand as a means to increase food security and reduce food waste in the country.

The first runner-up Pay:Watch is a startup that partners with employers and banks to provide gig workers instant access to earned wages, in real time, before pay day. The ‘Instant Pay’ feature allows gig workers to instantly withdraw or top up prepaid cards from earned wages. They also analyse data on how workers “work-earn-spend-save”, which is shared with the banks to match the gig workers with affordable financial products and minimise their likelihood of borrowing from informal lenders in this challenging economic climate.

Second runner-up ERTH is a startup that offers electronic waste recycling service that buys end-of-life personal electronics such as PCs, laptops, smartphones, for recycling. This service will be especially beneficial for the environment as the home-centric culture and lifestyle due to the pandemic has seen a proliferation of electronic devices purchased and used.

ERTH offers free pick-up service and pay higher prices for e-waste than public recycling centers due to their unique accelerated supply chain from consumer to recovery.

On top of being able to work with the Bank on pilot projects, Food Market Hub was rewarded with RM50,000 cash prize while the two runners-up Pay:Watch and ERTH received RM25,000 each.

Shailesh Grover, Chief Digital & Innovation of HLB commented, “These solutions are especially relevant in today’s world that has been disrupted by the global Covid-19 crisis. The pandemic exposed many vulnerabilities across almost all industry sectors, which in turn increased the need for resilience. It is extremely reassuring to see a thriving community of startups that have seized the opportunity to pivot and evolve their business to meet the ever-changing needs of our community. The potential demonstrated by the startups reaffirms our belief that platforms such as the HLB LaunchPad remains important to foster win-win partnerships between the startup ecosystem and corporates. We look forward to having the finalists onboard on a collaborative and fruitful journey.”

Together with this third edition of HLB LaunchPad, over 50 pitches have been presented to the HLB C-Level on Demo Day with over 1,800 hours of mentorship provided by HLB Division Heads. The Launchpad platform has also successfully helped 80% of startups obtain funding either through the Bank itself or venture capitalists and over 20% of startups are now HLB value partners, providing innovative solutions to jointly go to market.

The Bank received an overwhelming 84 startup applications this year and shortlisted 12 finalists to pitch at the Virtual HLB Launchpad Demo Day including Food Market Hub, Pay:Watch, ERTH, Pod, AI XPRT, Workspez, ThoughtFull, Little Tauke, NexPlatform, We Build Easy, Bereev and Pand.AI.

All 12 finalists have the opportunity to explore potential collaboration with the Bank and tap into the benefits of being part of LaunchPad, such as gaining access to financial support through [email protected], access to [email protected], the Bank’s very first state-of-the-art co-working and community hub, regional market access and the networking opportunities across the Hong Leong group of companies.

For more information, please visit <https://www.hlb.com.my/hlblaunchpad>.

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