Today Swedbank and Barclays Operations Center in Lithuania have closed the deal of acquisition of fintech hub Rise Vilnius that will further operate under the new brand – ROCKIT. The hub will continue to foster fintech and tech-inspired innovations and contribute to Lithuania’s aim to become an important regional fintech center in Europe. To support that, Swedbank has also announced today new opportunity-opening partnerships with European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Startup Wise Guys with their Google Developers Launchpad.
„Fintech industry is gaining momentum, with the new brand, fresh partnerships and our support we hope to encourage Lithuanian startups and developers to innovate, grow and scale at an even faster pace. We want Vilnius to rock it and be heard across the fintech World“, says Dovilė Grigienė, CEO of Swedbank Lithuania.
Early stage support for startups from EBRD
Swedbank has agreed with EBRD to provide prominent startups with access to early stage investments and superior mentoring network as well as provide support for the operation and development of new initiatives.
“One of the EBRD’s key priorities for Lithuania and the wider Baltic region is to promote the competitiveness of the economy with a focus on investments in advanced technologies. Fintech is one such industry which we see as having the potential to spark progress and contribute to the development of market growth. We are looking forward to our cooperation with Swedbank as a way to foster the type of environment necessary for businesses to truly innovate,” says Matti Hyyrynen, EBRD Head of Baltics.
Where relevant to its mandate and of added value to the startup, the EBRD will consider using relevant forms of grant or support in kind (for example mentorship schemes) to assist the development of startups working with innovative solutions at the hub.
“We are excited to work with our partners to connect startups with clients across the EBRD’s wide region of operations. As one of the main goals of the new hub is to position it as a regional fintech center, we will leverage our strengths to support ROCKIT in attracting teams and ideas from our region,” says Valdas Vitkauskas, EBRD Associate Director, Financial Institutions Fintech Coordination.
EBRD has been investing and fostering change in different countries for almost 30 years now. Since 1991 EBRD has invested €877 million in 90 projects in Lithuania. Strengthening the global competitiveness of the country’s economy through engagement in advanced technologies as well as developing capital markets and the green economy are the EBRD’s priorities in the country.
Accelerator program from Startup Wise Guys
Swedbank and ROCKIT will also cooperate with the leading B2B accelerator in Europe Startup Wise Guys in its new fintech accelerator program „Wise Guys Fintech 3“, which will foster development of fintech solutions by providing prominent startups with seed capital, workplaces, and growth guidance.
„Fintech today is among the top 3 verticals of venture capital investment in Europe, and open data regulation in EU is creating new opportunities for collaboration between financial institutions and startups. If we look at Lithuania, support mechanisms like special-purpose banking license, Startup Visa, and regulation makes it a very appealing place for foreign fintech startups to accelerate in. Having already worked with Swedbank group on 2 Fintech accelerator programs, we are very much looking forward to extending our collaboration in Lithuania and adding a bit of Wise Guys vibe to the amazing ROCKIT community. By the way, we are scouting for startups for the new program to start in October“, – says Cristobal Alonso, Global CEO at Startup Wise Guys.
Wise Guys Fintech accelerator consists of on-site intensive mentoring program. Selected startups are also eligible to initial investment of 30K or 50K EUR depending on their stage, with follow-on investment possibility. With mentors specialized in financial service industries, the program curriculum focuses on idea shaping and validation, business development, sales and fundraising.
Thanks to Wise Guys’ cooperation with Google, the startups enlisted in the program will also gain access to Google Developers Launchpad benefits – World class mentors, contact network, technologies, Google Cloud and Google Firebase credits. Some of accelerator program’s workshops and sessions will also be open to the wider startup community.
Meanwhile, Swedbank could provide partnership possibilities for the selected startups by integrating their solutions within Swedbank digital channels or by creating Swedbank APIs as well as potential access to almost 8 million customers across 4 markets through their Open Banking initiative. Moreover, Swedbank will use its vast network of internal professionals and mentors from business, finance management, legal, compliance, sales and marketing and other areas to support and share knowledge with startups.
The new brand
Fintech hub „Rise Vilnius“ in an official ceremony today has presented its new brand ROCKIT. The title originates from a combined word of a well-known English phrase „rock it“.
„The new bold brand represents ROCKIT’s ambitious goals. It has already earned its reputation as a key fintech hub in Lithuania, but it’s only the beginning. The new brand marks the inspiration and opportunities, that ROCKIT brings not only for its hub members, but for the whole startup and developers’ community. IT is creative, bold and daring, like startups, which are changing the existing market rules“, says the head of ROCKIT Ms Šarūnė Smalakytė
ROCKIT, located in Gynėjų str., currently unites 64 members and is a home for 34 companies. This space is not just a physical workplace, but also a place for quality events and mentoring sessions, a hub for fintech innovations.
ROCKIT’s predecessor Rise Vilnius was established in year 2016 by Barclays Operations Centre in Lithuania (BOCL). As the center exiting Lithuanian market, it started looking for a buyer for Rise Vilnius. Swedbank, which aims to strengthen its contribution to the startup sector and is one of the largest financial market players in the Baltic region and Sweden, acquired Rise Vilnius, ensuring continuity of the successful initiative. The contract was finalized today, July 1st and rebranding the hub was one of the terms.