Questions we get asked a lot…

Open Innovation is a concept and practice of businesses and organizations sourcing ideas and solutions from external sources as well as internal ones. Open innovation in banking relates innovation programs i.e. hackathons, incubation, acceleration but also to availability of product integration towards API services.
We have created our innovation center to support and nurture the digital transformation drive that has been undertaken at ABB. We are upscaling our web and mobile services through our digitalization program. The Innovation Center will pave the way to sourcing ideas and solutions externally and internally in improving the current digital services.
ABB Innovation Center is an innovation initiative that supports the Bank’s digital and online services through startups with new technology ideas, products, solutions or services. ABB Innovation Center is well aligned with the ABB’s strategy to expand SME and retail banking solutions by leveraging innovation and technology.
Our primary goal is to enable a leading and sustainable FinTech ecosystem in Azerbaijan and its region. We aspire to foster innovation in financial services, enhancing digital platforms for SMEs and individuals, bringing up best talents towards programming languages, supporting entrepreneurs for their innovative ideas, and making the most out of the new technologies i.e. Artificial Intelligence, Distributed Ledger Technologies, automation and mobile services.
Hackathons, incubation, acceleration, corporate entrepreneurship, open banking and ABB Tech are the main programs under the Innovation Center. There are also community and capacity building activities that are organized and delivered within the same scope.
You can find more information about programs clicking to the following links: www.ibahackathon.com
www.ibatech.az
In order to foster the FinTech ecosystem locally and regionally, we will continue developing programs and activities within the financial innovation context.
A startup incubator is an innovation and growth program for business ideas and projects. The main purpose of an incubator is to help startups at a very early stage to grow up. An incubator is there to help its residents to solve problems associated with launching a startup by providing mentorship, training, coaching and other benefits. Startup accelerators offer similar services with incubators. One of the main differences is that accelerators are generally considered to be tailored to later stage startups, whereas incubators are more suited to very early stage business ideas.
We provide a hands-on startup development program that includes rigorous training, mentorship and coaching by seasoned professionals. ABB experts will provide guidance to the incubated startups towards their entry into the banking services.
There is no fee whatsoever for the incubated startups. All of the services are provided pro bono by ABB.
The incubation program will span 18 weeks. The scope of the incubation will be largely vested on retail services. Yet we are open to any innovative ideas or solutions that would create an impact on our value proposition for our corporate or retail customers. Below is an indicative list of areas we will consider in assessing the projects: • Retail customers and SME access to financial services: Improving level of knowledge of business owners and key employees in fundamentals of finances, banking, accounting, cash flow management, fund raising, borrowing, etc. • Loyalty services and solutions • Credit scoring for businesses: For those not covered in the formal system, alternative scoring models for more precise ranking of customers through AI, Blockchain, etc. • Easy access to digital services: Solutions that enable users (businesses and individuals) to access faster and easier digital solutions • Fund raising: Alternative solutions of accessing to funding and credit (P2P lending, crowdfunding, etc.) • Alternative payments: Solutions in providing a fast, reliable, secure and cheaper payment services for businesses • Complementary services: Account aggregation, online accounting, e-invoicing • Trade finance: Solutions that facilitate efficient and quicker services in supply chain financing and export credits • Marketplace: One-stop-shop banking platforms for relevant solutions that could be integrated online • Non-stop-services: Predictive solutions that enable the Bank to proactively provide just-in-time services to customers based on their needs.
Yet we are open to any innovative ideas or solutions that would create an impact on ABB’s customers and its value proposition.
Any entrepreneur with a solid project/startup can apply. Gender diversity is highly encouraged for applying projects/startups. No applicant alongside founders younger than age 18 is allowed for legal reasons. Projects/startups from outside of Azerbaijan may apply.
Applications are submitted online by submitting an application form at www.abbinnovation.az. You need to follow instructions and announcements that will be rendered by ABB management in submitting your application. (www.abbinnovation.az) Applications will be made individually by a representing person on behalf of the project/startup.
Yes. You will be required to indicate the name and brief description of your project/startup. The application will request the applicant to submit each team member’s name including founders.
To have a registered company is welcomed however it is not mandatory for your project/startup to apply to the program.
Number of team members is ideally 3-5. But there is no imposed number on teams by ABB.
No. A representing person fills out the application form on behalf of the entire team.
Teams will be able to propose a change in the team members until the contract signing with ABB during the orientation. Any suggestion afterwards will not be accepted unless considered otherwise by the program management.
The scope of the incubation will be largely vested on retail services. For further details, please review the answer to the question “What is the length and scope of the incubation?”.
Teams are interviewed (online or offline) before the selection. The interviews will feature presentations by the teams and a Q&A session. The selection of the projects/startups will be based on, but not fully confined to, below considerations:

• Use and apply of digital technologies: How well suited is the concept for digital banking and SME services?
• Creativity: How creative is the project/startup in developing an innovative solution for the challenge? Is the project/startup unique or making a difference?
• Impact: Does the project/startup create a solution that can have a real and valuable impact? Is the solution feasible / if pursued could it actually work in the real world?
• Scalability: What is the growth potential of the project/startup? What impact can it have on the industry as a whole?
• Innovativeness: How innovative is the project/startup that appeals to a particular challenge and resolves it properly?
We aim to select a cohort of 10-12 projects. The number may increase or decrease depending on the discretion of the selection committee.
The selected projects will be notified by the ABB Program Management via emails with instructions for next steps. You will be invited to an orientation program that is a bootcamp activity for a day or two to present the program rules, deliverables, activities and timeline to the selected projects; signed contracts with them; introduce mentors with startups. The event might be held online depending on the circumstances.
The program will include an orientation program, training, mentorship, coaching and demo day to pitch the startup product.
Our training is not a typical university curriculum. It is a hands-on entrepreneurship and startup building program that will align the teams with modern practices and approaches. The teams alongside all members are obliged to take all the courses unless their excuse of absence is approved by the program management.
Yes. Mentorship is a structured guidance and expertise sharing by a seasoned specialist to a fledgling business or a startup. The incubation program will involve external mentors as well as ABB professionals in mentoring the incubated startups. The mentorship will cover a broad range of areas from business modelling to product design
We will adjust our program conduct according to the working conditions under the COVID-19 pandemic. The activities and deliverables including orientation, training, mentorship, coaching and demo day will partly or entirely be delivered online in case such conundrum continues to limit working onsite.
We expect the projects/startups to fully observe the rules, policies and regulations set or advised by the ABB Program Management.
Yes. Demo Day is an end-program event where startups pitch their product/solution/service to an audience of executives, investors, professionals and other enthusiasts. Startups will be able to pitch their product/solution/service at a Demo Day event organized by the ABB program management.
Startups might be assessed for a follow-on support by the ABB program management towards an accelerator phase that includes coworking use, business development assistance, product integration, investors match making, etc. The ABB program management will have the full discretion in placing the projects/startups into the accelerator on a case-by-case basis. The accelerator will span for a period of 6 months.
There will be no financial investment into the startups by ABB during the Incubation.
Yes. The projects/startups that will be admitted to the accelerator phase will be considered for equity investment by ABB. But it is not given.
Yes. We target to integrate successful and fitting solutions to our banking infrastructure.
Exploitation and property rights to prototypes developed are reserved both for ABB and startups. The parties have the right of joint ownership of the ideas ie project, prototype, minimum viable product, solution, etc; and the consent of the other party must be obtained for the use and exercise of such right of ownership.
A project/startup can submit their solution after the incubation has begun, but selection and relevance of the project will be determined by the ABB program management. If the project is suitable and the timing is right, the team can be admitted to the ongoing incubation program.
Unfortunately, not. You will need to process your visa application through regular policies.
Unfortunately, not. You will need to handle your travel and accommodation expenses on your own. However, we will make sure that your liabilities with the program are conducted online and remotely to the extent possible.
You can fill out the form either Azerbaijani or English.
No. Idea/solution could be the same, modified or changed to a new one.
1. Project relevance to ABB business and value proposition;
2. Project within the Incubation Scope;
3. Team aligned with the Development requirements and its technology readiness level;
4. Project have potential to scale up;
5. Market readiness level;
6. Innovativeness/Creativity
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