Saturday, June 16, 2018

Omidyar Network and Village Capital Host India’s First Civic Technology Event in Bangalore

Civic Tech Connect 2018 marked the official launch of the Civic Tech India 2018 Accelerator and brought together entrepreneurs and investors to build the civic technology ecosystem in India

Global philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network, in partnership with venture development firm Village Capital, hosted India’s first-ever civic technology event – the Civic Tech Connect 2018  – focused on bringing together investors and entrepreneurs to build India’s civic tech ecosystem. The event, held in Bengaluru on June 14, saw more than 100 entrepreneurs, investors, philanthropic funders, industry experts, and civic tech opinion leaders from across the country come together on a single platform for the first time.

The event connected aspiring civic tech entrepreneurs with potential investors, mentors, and potential customers to drive conversations around the development of the civic tech industry in India and further boost its adoption. While the industry is still at a nascent stage in India, its development has accelerated across the globe in the past couple of years.

With 337 million Indians slated to use a smartphone in 2018 and an increasing number of technology-led initiatives by the government such as Digital India, BharatNet, and the Smart Cities program, the Indian civic tech ecosystem is poised for growth. Omidyar Network, which has invested more than $132M across 75 civic tech organizations around the globe to date, with more than $9M+ investments in India, is keen to further nurture and develop this budding ecosystem in the country through the Civic Tech India 2018 Accelerator program, in collaboration with Village Capital.

Speaking at the event, Roopa Kudva, Partner and managing director at Omidyar Network India Advisors, commented, “India needs more entrepreneurs driving the growth of the civic tech industry. With important technology enablers in place, the sector has the potential to develop rapidly. As the ‘next half billion’ Indians come online for the first time through their mobile phones over the next five years, there is a huge opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs to create innovative civic tech solutions to enable central, state, and local governments to be more responsive and efficient in the delivery of critical services, while empowering citizens to engage more effectively with governments.”

The event also saw discussions with experts such as Viraj Tyagi, CEO, eGovernments Foundation; political economist and former IAS officer, Santhosh Mathew, and Kartik Desai, executive director, Asha Impact; as they shared their insights and experiences in developing technological initiatives that will scale and create long term impact. Poor infrastructure, lack of waste management and traffic issues were identified as some of the key civic issues that can be tackled though civic tech, and the discussion highlighted the opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs looking to build scalable and impactful solutions in this space in India.

“Awareness around the application of civic tech remains low among potential end-users, even with increasing smartphone and internet usage,” said Deepak Menon, regional director, Emerging Markets, Village Capital. “It is important to not only create business opportunities and provide mentorship for entrepreneurs to ideate and innovate within this space, but also proactively initiate conversations around civic technology among citizens as a viable solution to their everyday civic and social issues,” he added.

Civic Tech Connect 2018 was the official launch of Omidyar Network and Village Capital’s Civic Tech India 2018 Accelerator program. The three-month accelerator program will train early-stage civic engagement ventures by bringing together entrepreneurs, influencers, the government, and potential funders from across the country, through a series of forums and workshops. The program is designed to help the ventures scale, grow their revenue, and become more investment ready, while building a community of diverse ventures and stakeholders working to solve India’s most pressing civic engagement problems.

Boeing Expands Aerospace Engineering Footprint in Bengaluru; Inaugurates New Digital Innovation Center

Boeing has inaugurated the newest phase of the Boeing India Engineering and Technology Center (BIETC) in Bengaluru. Spread across 150,000 sq. ft. and eight floors, the new facility will double Boeing’s existing footprint of 160,000 sq. ft. and will accommodate another 1,000 new employees, who will work on cutting-edge technologies that will drive aerospace innovation from India, for India and the world.

While the new facility will incorporate software technologies into design, manufacturing and service offerings, Boeing will continue to scale up its aerospace, R&D and engineering activities in its existing facilities, which are also pursuing a journey of growth. 

BIETC is recruiting and scaling up exponentially. The center has increased its employee count from just 100 when it was inaugurated in early 2017, to over 1,000. And, as the center grows over the next few years, it will develop into a team of over 2,500 employees in specialized fields of IT, engineering and R&D. From an IT perspective, key focus would be on cutting-edge areas such as Product Lifecycle Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Data Analytics and Software Design for aerospace. 

BIETC is also continuing to grow teams focused on advanced aerospace research in materials and manufacturing, aircraft structures and airplane health management. Boeing’s engineering teams continue to excel and innovate in Digital Aviation, electrical, mechanical and systems design and providing support for lab and flight testing for aircrafts. 

“We see India as a hotbed for path-breaking software solutions that can redefine the way the world designs, operates and manages airplanes,” said Ted Colbert, Boeing’s chief information officer and senior vice president of Information Technology & Data Analytics, while inaugurating the new facility. “The IT talent and capabilities available in India will be an enabler for Boeing’s success across the world.”

The facility will contain an integrated lab for Internet of Things (IoT), Analytics and Mobility, a 3DX lab to develop 3D experiences, a Systems Integration Lab and a Proof of Concepts Lab. Over 25 Collaboration Areas in the facility will further enable teams to work together to develop, scale and deliver aerospace innovations with agility. The new facility will also enable driving strategic initiatives like Digital Transformation.

“We are excited about Boeing’s ever expanding footprint in India. The new engineering facility at BIETC reflects an agile and driven Boeing in India, one that inspires people to collaborate and accelerate step-change innovation,” said Pratyush Kumar, president, Boeing India. “This center brings together engineers from the fields of aerospace, computer science and mathematics, who will collaborate to achieve next-gen breakthroughs for aircraft design, manufacturing and maintenance.”

In addition to developing engineering capabilities, Boeing is also actively involved in developing skills across the aviation sector by partnering with leading Indian vocational training institutes, industrial training institutes and Indian partners, to train workers for the aerospace industry.

YES BANK Launches YES SCALE, a Multi Sector Accelerator to support Sunrise Sectors of the Economy

YES BANK, India’s fourth largest private sector bank launched its in-house multi-sector start-up accelerator YES SCALE (Smart City, Clean Tech, Agritech, Lifesciences Tech, Edu Tech). The 15-week program is aimed at creating financial innovations by Sourcing, Scaling, and Sustaining Emerging Technology Solutions in Sunrise Sectors of the Indian economy.

YES SCALE aims to address the 3 biggest scale-up challenges faced by technology startups-

ü  Commercialization: Each of the 5 accelerators under YES SCALE will have dedicated industry partners who will support the development of a Proof of Concept (PoC) and go-to- market/commercialization of the developed solution
ü  Funding Support: YES SCALE will provide a PoC grant of upto INR 20 lakhs (to ensure startups remain cost neutral during PoC development) and also access to funding of upto USD 1 mn through Investment/Fund partners
ü  Mentorship/Guidance: Over 100 mentors will be guiding startups during the 15 week programs. Each startup will be supported by 1 sector expert, 1 technology expert and 1 investment partner

Additionally, for start-ups that have ready solutions, YES SCALE will provide access to a technology sandbox to help them test their solutions in a risk-free environment and give them support worth over USD 1 mn through cloud credits (Google, AWS, Microsoft based on startup preference), cloud telephony, SaaS invoice discounting etc. Through YES SCALE, startups looking to take their solutions global will be able to do so with YES BANK’s partnerships with 20+ start-up ecosystems around the world across USA, Europe, Middle East and South-East Asia. 

YES FINTECH – YES BANK’s Fintech accelerator program which was launched a year ago received an overwhelming response from the global startup & investment ecosystem, and  helped the bank establish that fintechs or tech-fins have the potential to create disruptive impact on multiple sectors like agriculture, heath, smart cities, education and clean energy.

Commenting on the development, Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO, YES BANK, said, “The success of 2 cohorts of YES Fintech have demonstrated our Bank's strengths in partnering fintechs to co-create industry changing Banking solutions. Now, with YES SCALE, we will replicate this model across YES BANK's focus sectors like Smart Cities, Agriculture, Clean Energy, Education and Healthcare, to build deep interventions jointly with our corporate clients. This is fully in line with the Bank's vision since inception - which was to cater to the 'sunrise sectors of India's economy' using knowledge banking to deliver impactful ecosystem solutions.

Recently, YES BANK operationalized its Agritech start-up acceleration programme under YES SCALE, with sectoral organizations like ITC, Nestle, MTR and Amul committing to adopt solutions scaled up in the program and commercializing them either through integration in their systems or further distributing the solution with their supply chain partners. YES BANK has also partnered with Omnivore Partners, Anthill Ventures and Artha Venture Partners who will support the program as Investment Partners while Villgro will provide support to YES SCALE as the official Program Partner.

Commenting on the partnership Jinesh Shah, Founding Partner, Omnivore Partners said “When banks like YES BANK launch Accelerators like YES SCALE, it is a clear indication of the overarching positive vibrancy in agribusiness sector where everyone wants to be a part of. Initiatives such as these are in sync with our philosophy of digitizing farm level technology solutions and scaling up the startup ecosystem.”

Speaking about the digitization process, Sanjay Sharma, CEO, MTR Foods said, “We are happy to partner YES SCALE -the agribusiness accelerator of YES BANK. Initiatives such as these align with our vision of digitizing technology solutions to address key challenges in our business model and also help scaling up the startup ecosystem.”

YES SCALE will bring together over fifty organizations, funds, ecosystems as well as Government partners for advisory support. Through YES SCALE, YES BANK is also offering its clients and partners in sunrise sectors, the opportunity to accelerate their digitization processes.

Introducing ‘Axis Aha!’ – An AI-led Virtual Assistant to Enhance Online Customer Experience

‘Conversational Banking’ has turned a new leaf with the launch of ‘Axis Aha!’, an efficient virtual assistant powered by cutting-edge technology which includes proprietary Artificial Intelligence and machine learning algorithms. This unique chatbot provides relevant and contextual responses to customer queries and even helps make transactions on the chat window itself. Customers can initiate transactions either through voice or chat. This transactional innovation is a ground-breaking way to enable customers to execute transactions, explore products and avail banking services using simple words used in our daily conversations.

Currently hosted on the home page of the Bank website,, ‘Axis Aha!’ is capable of performing diverse actions like fund transfer, bill payments, recharges and also manage card limits, block credit and debit cards, besides others. The voice and chat interface also provides customers an opportunity to query on any of his banking needs. Axis Aha is a part of the Bank’s continuous endeavor to simplify banking by through the extensive use of technology. This interface will gradually be extended to the Mobile banking app and the Internet Banking application.

Sharing his thoughts on the launch of ‘Axis Aha!’, Praveen Bhatt, Head - Digital Banking & Customer Experience, Axis Bank, said, “The launch of ‘Axis Aha!’ takes the customer-centricity approach of the bank to an entirely different level as it lays a very strong foundation for artificial intelligence based voice and chat enabled ‘conversational banking’. In a time starved world, Axis Aha with its unique action orientation offers customers the benefit of completing simple transactions either through voice or chat in the very moment without having to navigate through any other channel.

Some unique features of ‘Axis Aha!’ are as follows:

State of the art technology:

o   ‘Axis Aha!’ is powered by cutting-edge algorithms leveraging concepts of artificial intelligence and machine learning
o   It is capable of crafting intelligent micro-conversations to guide, execute, suggest, remind and simplify basic banking for the customers.
o   The chatbot resides on a comprehensive banking knowledge base along with self-learning algorithms continuously improve the experience.

Rich Features:

o   ‘Axis Aha!’ currently provides the following capabilities – funds transfer, bill payment, recharge, block card, manage debit card.
o   Upcoming features include ordering cheque book, card pin set /reset, card limit change, download e-statement / loan statement, apply for loans , cards, etc.
o   The chatbot is fast; customers can straight away state their needs and it will be serviced without getting lost in the sea of navigation panels.
o   It also can answer and guide customers with their queries regarding Axis Bank products and services, address grievances, apart from tracking application status as well as reporting fraud.

S3 Cabs to Launch Bio-Diesel Distribution to Reduce Operational Costs

The newest entrant in the taxi business in Mumbai – S3 cabs is finding indigenous ways to benefit the cab drivers and reduce their operational costs. While rival taxi companies are slowing down on the EV plans, due to lack of charging points; S3 has got the approval for a mobile bio-diesel distribution pump. The pump will be used to fill bio-diesel for its cabs across Mumbai.

Speaking on the development Sohel Kazani said “I am very excited that we have received a fantabulous response from the drivers and riders both. As a company, Sahyadri Smart Safe Private Limited was a late entrant in the business, but we always wanted to be the path leaders. Going forward with our vision, we have procured the equipment and supply for bio-diesel distribution. The mobile bio-diesel distribution van will travel all over the Mumbai and have fixed timings at South Mumbai and near all Mumbai entry points. In the first stage we only want to supply the fuel to our taxis, if we are surplus, we will distribute it to other vehicles too.”

Bio-diesel blend has been made a mandate in many countries. The government had recommended a blend in 2017 but the same has not been made compulsory. Biofuels also reduce the emissions making the environment cleaner. It would help the economy by reducing crude import; India imports approximately 8 lakh crores of crude oil annually. Also, it is priced lower than convention diesel, resulting in savings for the drivers. Shifting to biofuels is also a long-term solution to the problem of rising fuel prices.

At the commercial inception of the cab services, S3 had provided a patented technology registered as 'Oxy Power' to all its drivers. This technology requires an external fitment in the car and helps in the better utilization of the fuel resulting in 20% and 30% reduction in fuel consumption. Reduced fuel consumption helped the taxis to operate at flat fares all the times. Now with BioDiesel, there will be further 5% to 10% reduction in fuel costs resulting in Net overall 40% reduction in fuel bill to be paid by the taxi owners.

“The average consumption of fuel by the cab owners based on 300km per day traveling amounts to 30 liters of diesel, and that equals to INR 2200 per day. A 40% reduction would mean INR 880 saving per day on fuel account or as much as INR 26,000 approx a month by using bio-diesel and the oxy-power unit. A pilot study made us understand that it keeps the fuel systems and fuel injector cleaner thus reducing the vehicle maintenance cost and increasing the mileage. It will also help in additional employment generation. We would like to work closely with the government to make the shift to biofuels happen and we hope that they lower the GST on bio-diesel to 5%” mentioned Sohel.

Biodiesel can be used in any diesel car without any additional modification as in the case of CNG. It is cleaner and more efficient than regular diesel. Biodiesel can be used alone or blended with regular diesel in any proportions.

Muthoot Expands Footprint in Karnataka to Enable Common Man own his ‘Dream Abode’

Muthoot Housing Finance Company Limted , subsidiary of Muthoot Fincorp Ltd. and the affordable housing finance arm of Muthoot Pappachan Group today announced the opening of its Regional Office at Banshankari 2nd Stage in Bangalore to make affordable housing a reality for the common man, in Karnataka. Presently MHFCL is present at 59 locations across 9 states and one UT. This move comes as a part of its national expansion plan to establish additional 15 new  branches across the southern and northern  regions.  The company is focussed on making housing finance available to the common man at attractive terms and conditions . Customers can now avail affordable loan options/schemes like home loans,  self construction, home extension, home improvement loan and  loan against property.

Muthoot Housing Finance Company Limited will be offering a range of home loans starting from purchase from builder, resale purchase, self-construction loans,  home extension, home improvement and loan against property through these branches.

Guided by the GoI’s vision of universal housing for the urban poor under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna with a target of building 20 million affordable houses by 31 March 2022, the company has plans to penetrate further in this Karnataka region through its wide spread distribution network and disburse Rs 750 Crs of loan in the next 3 years. Aligning to the Group’s legacy, MHFCL’s long term vision is to enable every family in India to be able to live their aspiration of owning their own home.   

Pavan K. Gupta, CEO, Muthoot Housing Finance Company Limited said, “The affordable housing market in the state of Karnataka  has been on an upswing owing to increased commercial activity, positive buyer sentiments, infrastructure upgrades and improved job opportunities and this is the right time for us to further strengthen our presence in this market. We are also using technology to quicken the process of approving these loans. Our team today has access to mobility solutions which help them provide a better experience to the customers and deliver solutions at their doorsteps.  A ‘dream home’ is an aspiration for many, but majority of the urban poor population are not able to make this reality because of the unavaiablity of home loans facility  in this segment. Muthoot Pappachan Group’s core credo is to Empower Human Ambitions and Muthoot Housing plans & efforts are all in fulfiing the Group’s vision in letter and in spirit. We aim to reach out to this segment and enable them to get faster and hassle free acccess to their dream abode”.

Talking about expansion plans, Pavan K. Gupta highlighted, “We have set ourselves an ambitious target. In Karnataka itself, we will be opening new branches at Mysore, Hubli, Gulbarga, Davangere and Shimoga in the next 6 months. We also plan to open 10  branches across northern and western states of India.”

New Capabilities Expand Genpact Cora Platform’s Ability to Accelerate Customer Journey-Driven Transformation at Scale

Genpact, a global professional services firm focused on delivering digital transformation, today announced new customer experience enhancements to Genpact Cora, its modular, artificial intelligence (AI)-based platform that helps enterprises accelerate digital transformation at scale.

The new features visualize and streamline workflows from the customer’s point-of-view to enable journey-driven transformation that connects the front, middle, and back-offices. The platform also is integrating patented Cora Journey360 software from TandemSeven, which Genpact acquired in September 2017.

“As customer journeys become the defining road map for process automation, understand this: Customers do not care about arbitrary distinctions – they only care about outcomes,” wrote Rob Koplowitz, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, in a recent report.* “The strategy of focusing on front-office applications only addresses the tip of the iceberg; true automation means back-end operational experience in support of front-end user experience.”

With these new capabilities, Genpact Cora provides a single view of customer journeys and personas, data-driven dashboards to track and monitor journey effectiveness, and connectivity to underlying operations. Genpact also is incorporating TandemSeven’s expertise in customer and user experience, design thinking, and agile methodologies.

“Superior customer experience defines success in the digital world,” said Sanjay Srivastava, chief digital officer, Genpact. “Our continued investments in Genpact Cora – combined with our deep process and domain expertise from running thousands of operations for Fortune 500 companies – give our clients a competitive edge. We speed their transformation, and drive seamless customer experiences to grow their business.”

Digital transformation for greater return on investment and growth

Genpact has implemented Genpact Cora more than a thousand times, and runs billions of transactions through the platform. The new enhancements expand on existing capabilities in natural language understanding, conversational AI, computer vision, deep learning, big data, data science, data engineering, machine learning, robotic process automation, ambient computing, dynamic workflow, and software-as-a-service. The modular platform allows clients to easily integrate advanced technologies, all delivered through a mature application program interface and open, flexible architecture.

Genpact’s ongoing strategy to drive digital-led innovation and digitally-enabled intelligent operations helps clients deliver better customer experiences, and achieve greater return on investment and business impact. For example, Genpact worked with a global nutritional supplements company to automate the client’s customer relationship management and reporting processes. The transformation enhances service and allows the company to assist more customers faster, improving response time for order inquiries by 40 percent. In addition, a North American food giant deployed Genpact Cora to reimagine its trade promotion operations for competitive growth, driving significant improvements in payment accuracy, revenue leakage, and other efficiencies. Benefits over the next five years are expected to increase revenue by $105 million and improve productivity 60 percent.