Westpac announces start-up finalists

Westpac has selected five finalists for its 2017 Innovation Challenge, which aims to uncover innovations for Australia's professional services sector.

National head of professional services at Westpac, Makala Schofield, said the lender’s fourth Innovation Challenge had attracted “an incredible standard of inspiring entries”.

“The new solutions coming out of this initiative have huge potential to further improve the Professional Services sector, which is a key contributor to the Australian economy, a major employer and a sector that supports the growth and development of businesses across our economy,” she said.

This year's five finalists are:

  • Nod: digital platform where people get advice about money from a financial expert on-demand. The platform is aimed at financial professionals and includes an artificial intelligence solution that automates a client fact-finding process and produces Statement of Advice documents.
  • BenchOn: business-to-business supplier sourcing platform for the Professional Services sector. BenchOn creates a new talent pool of professionals by matching business’ idle staff, who are perhaps in between projects, to short-term contracts with reputable companies and government agencies.
  • Checkbox: a no-code platform that enables the digital transformation of regulation into software using a drag-and-drop interface. Checkbox allows people to build software without a developer, so users are able to quickly prototype, deploy, and react to regulatory changes in a faster and more cost-effective way.
  • Trust Investment Platform: platform that supports the administrative and legal set up, investment decision making and execution, as well as the ongoing management of trust accounts for beneficiaries. The service aims to address and disrupt the $10bn in legal trust accounts earning no interest for the rightful owner.
  • Blenktech: cloud-based software service revolutionising high-volume contract negotiation on behalf of big businesses. Blenktech accelerates agreement between parties, improves outcomes, reduces costs and mitigates risks.

The finalists will each participate in a live pitch to a panel of business experts who will decide the winner at an event on Thursday, 7 September 2017. The winner will receive a $40,000 cash prize and the opportunity to work with Westpac’s incubator team.

“We want to be a part of Australia succeeding on a global scale - and to do that, we need to support Australia's next generation of leaders, visionaries and inventors,” Kate Cooper, Westpac Group’s director of innovation services, said.

“One of the ways Westpac is doing this is through initiatives like the Innovation Challenge. It is a platform to connect people with big ideas to the opportunities that will turn them into realities.

“It is a route through which we can identify and support the leaders of tomorrow in developing the next generation of products that solve critical problems not just for our customers in this space, but for Professional Services as an industry.”

Picture left to right: Kate Cooper (Westpac), Samantha Sidwell (Trust Investment Platform), Joel Robbie (Nod), Tim Walmsley (BenchOn), Christopher Dyer (Trust Investment Platform), Evan Wong (Checkbox) and Alastair Blenkin (Blenktech).

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