realAs wins Westpac Innovation Challenge

Westpac Group and venture technology accelerator BlueChilli today announced Josh Rowe from realAs is the winner of the inaugural round of the Westpac Innovation Challenge.

The Westpac Innovation Challenge launched on 17 September giving Australian start-ups the opportunity to develop new ideas to help the bank’s business customers.

realAs has won a $40,000 cash prize and a six-month placement in the BlueChilli accelerator program to develop its website and app that helps home buyers and investors find out what price properties will really sell for.

“This is exactly the kind of leading edge, future-ready idea we were looking for,” said Westpac Head of Digital Business Banking, Kalpana Gee said.

“It has the potential to completely change the way our commercial real estate customers do business.

“We need to understand our customers’ businesses in order to continue improving the way we service them. By investing in the start-ups shaping and influencing our customers’ industries we are able to be there every step of the way as our customers are disrupted in this rapidly changing, digital economy.”

Westpac Group Head of Innovation, Ian Hill, praised the high standard of the five finalists’ innovative ideas.

“The response from the start-up community to our challenge has been phenomenal. We received more than 100 impressive applications. The top five finalists all have impressive ideas, but realAs really shone today.”

BlueChilli founder and CEO, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, said the Westpac Innovation Challenge was a great opportunity to advance the development of new business services in the marketplace.

“We want to boost start-ups that use technology in smart ways in order to expand the services available to professionals and consumers within their industry,” Mr Eckersley-Maslin said.

Round two of the Westpac Innovation Challenge will take place in 2015 and will be focused on solving business problems for other Westpac business customers from various industries. Commercial real estate was selected as the first focus area for the challenge as it is a rapidly growing part of the Australian economy and a key focus area for the Westpac Retail and Business Bank.

The inaugural round of the Westpac Innovation Challenge followed the successful opening of Westpac Group’s innovation centre – the hive – in early September.

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