J.P. Morgan To Incubate FinTech Talent

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Private fintech companies attracted almost $6 billion in funding in the first quarter of 2016, according to a CB Insights report. Nearly half of that global number was from three deals, but it’s clear there’s investment to be had with the right idea, software, gadget or app. J.P. Morgan is investing too, this week (June 30) announcing In-Residence, a program to help fintech startups develop their work using J.P. Morgan’s resources.

Each residency is for six months, with a rolling application process, according to Brian Marchiony, managing director of communications for J.P. Morgan. Applicants can expect a decision in six weeks or less, according to the In- Residence website.

“We are accepting applications globally and there is no set limit to how many startups we will invite in-house,” Marchiony said. “However, because we want to commit significant time, resources and expertise to the startups, we intend to pick a handful of fintech companies, really focus on supporting them, and then scale the program larger as warranted.”

The chosen applicants will keep control of their work, aimed at various challenges in the industry — distributed ledger, big data, robotics, machine learning — and may get support from J.P. Morgan once their residency is through. Marchiony said J.P. Morgan is hoping for a win-win.

“If startups develop something that J.P. Morgan can use, that could lead to a longer term partnership or investment from us,” he said. “But more important, if a startup develops something that can be used in J.P. Morgan’s infrastructure, there’s an outstanding chance their innovation could be scaled to the broader industry.”

Applicants must have a concept under development before applying, and be open to its validation by J.P. Morgan. According to the announcement press release, “Unlike a typical lab or accelerator, J.P. Morgan is inviting startups to sit ‘side by side’ with its businesses in order to develop innovations that could revolutionize the sector, enabling banks to operate faster, safer and at a lower cost.”

Oliwia Berdak, senior analyst at Forrester Research, said the J.P. Morgan program is unique in its length of time; similar accelerant initiatives she’s studied are typically 16 weeks.

“The success of this will really depend on sufficient resources being allocated to this and very good in-house advocates who will be able to guide these startups and explain to them the ecosystem and who they need to be talking to,” Berdak said.

She said the program’s highlighting of industry challenges is a promising feature.

“Retaining laser sharp focus will actually be crucial–not just any startup that does anything in the space of cloud computing or machine learning but thinking very clearly what this will deliver and where that fits in with our priority,” she said.

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