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Silicon Round-up; Bank Hunts Top Fintech Talent, New Start-up Czar, New Start-up For Cars, Facebook vs YouTube and Haggerston On The Map!

UBS launches the Global Future of Finance Challenge


UBS has announced a formal hunt for top FinTech talent with the launch of its Future of Finance Challenge. The world’s largest wealth manager is looking for “innovative and potentially disruptive technological ideas and solutions” that will help change the future of the banking industry, and will provide ongoing support to competition winners as well as a $50k top prize, $300k of support and “acceleration opportunities” and 300 hours of dedicated coaching and mentoring from UBS experts and partners.

The bank wants to leverage the technical expertise and future-proofing capabilities of Tech City start-ups to help solve 4 challenges that banks face going forward; delivering the ultimate client experience; offering superior products; building an efficient operating model and ensuring security in the banking industry. UBS has enlisted the help of FinTech Accelerators Level 39 and JFDI Asia as well as Innovation Agency 100% Open.

“Fostering an open and collaborative ecosystem between banks, technology firms and start-ups is critical to drive new innovation forward. I am very excited to be supporting the participants in this competition”, says Oliver Bussmaun, the group’s Chief Information Officer. “I strongly encourage every ambitious Fintech startup to enter this exciting challenge”, adds Sergio Ermotti, Group Chief Executive Officer.

Entries can be submitted here before 23rd September 2015, with a shortlist of 15 companies from the EMEA who will go on to attend Immersion Workshops in London in early November. UBS are also holding Global Launch Events between the 25th-27th August and Online Briefing Sessions on 1st & 2nd September.

This is a step in the right direction from one of the world’s biggest financial players and will certainly make an interesting case study to test bank’s genuine enthusiasm for harnessing the talent that exists just the other side of Bishopsgate in the coffee shops and co-working spaces of Shoreditch.

Michelle Mone is government’s new start-up Czar


Michelle Mone OBE, the founder of Ultimo will lead an independent review into how the government can encourage entrepreneurialism and the launch of more start-up businesses in disadvantaged communities and areas where unemployment is high, with a particular focus on those on benefits, women, the young, disabled people and ex-offenders.

Mone, raised in Glasgow’s East End, is a sought after speaker and serial entrepreneur who sold 80% of Ultimo last year in a multi-million pound deal and also runs U-Tan as well as having applied for and won patents for a number of different inventions. She has promised to travel the length and breadth of the UK visiting as many deprived communities as she can to pass on her knowledge and identify the barriers that are preventing new businesses from flourishing.

Sajid Javid, the government’s Business Secretary, says: “This review is a great opportunity to engage and learn from small businesses, celebrating their successes and sharing best practice to cement the UK’s position as the best place in Europe to start and grow a business.” Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith adds: “I am delighted Michelle has agreed to lead this review. There’s no-one I can think of who is better qualified to help young entrepreneurs from deprived backgrounds to turn a good idea into a flourishing business.”

Doubtless Mone will be paying a visit to Hackney, where the diaspora between rich and poor is acute and, despite being one of the UK’s most renowned areas for innovation in tech and its ability to attract funding, there is still a great deal to be done to engage with and help the community find meaningful jobs and opportunities to develop their entrepreneurial flair.

Car Spring wins Eur 3m and prepares to expand into Europe


An online marketplace that is bringing transparency and an end-to end solution for people buying used cars, backed by Rocket Internet, has funding in place to expand into Europe. Founders Max Vollenbroich and Dr. Peter Baumgart are ex-McKinsey consultants who teamed up with Rocket, the German start-up factory, founded by Oliver Samwer, who recently topped Wired magazine’s 100 most influential figures in Tech list, to create an innovative peer-to-peer platform matching customers to vendors.

All cars sold on the platform are personally checked by a Level 3 qualified CarSpring engineer, who repair any faults that they find and deduct the costs from the seller, as well as advising on the best price at which to sell, and personally delivered to the buyer in order to encourage a longer term, trusting relationship between buyer and platform.

“We aim to make car retail more transparent. There is still no easy and convenient way for customers to buy or sell cars online, but the demand for one is great, as three-quarters of car owners plan to buy a pre-owned car when they are ready for a new vehicle“, says Baumgart.

The paperwork in its entirety is also handled by CarSpring and ongoing assistance will be provided through an app which issues reminders about renewing insurance, paying road tax, and other admin related matters. Look out for Haggerston Times Company feature piece on Car Spring which will be published tomorrow!

Facebook and YouTube on collision course as battle for video advertising revenues intensifies


This has to be one of the biggest business stories of the year, particularly given the size of the market involved. As smartphone penetration grows, with estimates suggesting that 4 billion people will own one by 2020, the mobile advertising market is expected to grow to more than $100bn by 2020, accounting for more than 50% of the digital advertising market.

It can’t have escaped anybody’s notice that Facebook has recently made a significant push into video advertising, a market that Google-owned YouTube has dominated for nearly a decade. Facebook announced recently that it was attracting more than 4 billion video views each day (YouTube achieved this back in 2012 but won’t reveal how many views it gets today, although the figure is very likely to have increased), and it is focused on becoming the number 1 platform for digital marketers to use for their campaigns.

Facebook’s tactics are fierce, with regular blog posts encouraging users to upload all of their video using Facebook’s native platform, reducing the quality and size of any embedded YouTube links, allegedly offering agencies a 15% cut for recommending a Facebook advertising campaign over a YouTube one, and making eyes at some of YouTube top content creating stars to try and persuade them to change platforms.

YouTube is yet to launch a robust defence, with CEO Susan Wojcicki suggesting that there is room for a number of major players in such a vast market, but the platform has quietly been busy signing its content creators to long term contracts and questioning whether Facebook really is the most appropriate place to discover video content, where videos play silently and a “view” is regarded as any video playing for more than 3 seconds on a user’s newsfeed.

There are significant differences in both sides approach to revenue generation, but make no mistake, Facebook has launched an all-out attack on YouTube’s share of this market. Desperation on Facebook’s part, or steely confidence? Time will tell.

DSCN0051 - CopyThe Evening Standard says Haggerston is now destination of choice for Tech Start-ups!


Canal-side cool is in, and Haggerston, situated on the stretch of the A10 called Kingsland Road between Shoreditch and Dalston, has “barged” its way onto Tech City’s radar according to a recent article in the Evening Standard.

From Maker Wharf, to Technology Will Save Us, it is all happening in “Hack-erston”, which is also well known for its hip bars and restaurants (Tonkotsu, home to London’s only ramen-making machine), The Proud Archivist (come and see Russell Brand perform here…in secret), cool events spaces (Trip-space), and hipster friendly coffee houses like Haggerston Espresso Rooms (HER).

There are also all kinds of weird and wonderful spaces available for rent which creative types can transform into co-working spaces, offices, think tanks, and other cool and innovative things.

Given the proximity of Shoreditch, with its tattoo parlours, dive-bars and drumming, on one side, and Dalston, with its kebab shops, street markets and, erm, dive bars, on the other, residents of Haggerston are often to be found humming legendary Stealers Wheel track “Stuck in the middle with you”. “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right…” whilst being, of course,  justifiably proud of Haggerston’s position as the meat in the Hipster sandwich!


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