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Kotak Bank starts Innovation Lab,open to investing in startups

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Mumbai: Private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank has started an ‘Innovation Lab’ in Bengaluru to tap into the best technology that impacts its operations, and is open to investing in startups, a senior company official has said.

“We started an ‘Innovation Lab’ recently which is right now a dedicated space from where we are partnering with startups in the fintech space to test concepts and launch them into commercial products,” Kotak Bank’s Chief Digital Officer Deepak Sharma told PTI.

The fourth largest private sector bank has put together a seven-member core team which is working with an equal number of startups in the artificial intelligence, analytics, biometric or iris scanning and machine learning space.

A bulk of the startups are Bengaluru-based, while two are from the US and Australia, Sharma said.

Domestic lenders, especially those in the private sector, have been increasing their engagement with the fledgling fintech startup community to tap into the technologies of the future which will help them stay relevant.

The initiatives being undertaken by them include launching dedicated funds to invest in startups, starting incubation centres, organising ‘hackathons’ and ideation contests.

Sharma said the bank’s lab located in its office on MG Road in the garden city is not an incubation centre, but added that the bank is open to investing in other startups as well.

“We are open to investments in other startups as well but do not have a dedicated fund now,” he said.

The bank will keep evaluating possibilities on investing, partnering and incubating startups through this initiative and will also hire more people for the lab in the next three to six months, he said.

Sharma described it as an asset-light and agile model where it is working with specially chosen partners.

“It is about validating proof of concepts and the lab helps us in doing it in a dedicated way,” he said.

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