Russia Dealbook: Sberbank-IIDF launch fintech accelerator, VisionLabs develops project

Visual of St. Petersburg at night.

Russian bank Sberbank & government fund IIDF are launching a fintech acceleration programe, while Skolkovo-based VisionLabs has released an open source computer vision platform that it jointly developed with Facebook and Google.

Sberbank-IIDF partner to launch fintech acceleration initiative amid Russian big data boom

Russian national savings bank Sberbank is partnering with the Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF), a government-backed fund for Internet startups, to launch a financial technology (fintech) accelerator.

IIDF will select the the startups for the accelerator while Sberbank will provide these ventures with expertise and funding for pilot projects.

Capital for funding these startup ventures will be sourced from Sberbank itself and its venture arm SBT Venture Capital. Sberbank is be targeting projects operating in the field of financial services, personal finance management systems, process optimisation in financial institutions and related developments.

In addition, it will also explore cybersecurity and Big Data opportunities. This development follows the launch of a Big Data fund by IIDF in November 2015. This comes as Russian enterprises continues to show medium to long term appetite for data capacity, especially with it being among the five countries most likely to benefit from incorporating Big Data into governmental processes.

There is more space for growth of Big Data solutions in Russia, with data centres set for a construction boom in Russia in the coming years. However, this may be impacted by laws requiring the personal data of Russian citizens to be stored within Russian borders.

VisionLabs, Google & Facebook jointly release releases open source computer vision platform

VisionLabs, a facial recognition, data analysis and robotics company based in Russia’s Skolkovo technology hub, has created an open-source computer vision platform using funding from Facebook and Google.

Started in 2012, VisionLabs integrated two popular libraries for developers working on the study of neural networks and artificial intelligence – OpenCV and Torch – in order to develop the platform.

Launch in collaboration with Facebook and Google in 2015, the two US firms funded the computer vision project, with the integration of Torch and OpenCV previously discussed but with no implementation prior to the VisionLabs project.

In a statement, Alexander Khanin, general director of VisionLabs, explained: “We are already well-known and we are familiar with the research units of Google, Facebook, Twitter and other large-scale IT-companies. When the closed competition to become the project leader was launched, we put ourselves forward and, in the end, we were chosen.”

According to Khanin, neither of the firms see this as a commercial project but as a long term development of the computer vision community, which will enable and simplify the tools available for launching projects involving computer vision and neural networks. .

“The integration of machine learning and computer vision resources into a unified tool for developers is an important step towards stimulating the creation of new technologies and products in strategic fields such as robotics and artificial intelligence,” said  Albert Yefimov, head of Skolkovo’s Robocentre.

“Working with these major U.S. companies – Google and Facebook – is an excellent form of recommendation for VisionLabs, one of Skolkovo’s most promising companies,” he added.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.