TARA Biosystems’ Groundbreaking Biowire™ II Heart-on-a-Chip Platform Earns Acclaim from Frost & Sullivan
The platform is set to revolutionize drug discovery and development and ultimately enable safer and more effective therapies for patients
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 25, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Based on its recent analysis of the North American heart-on-a-chip market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes TARA Biosystems with the 2018 North American Technology Innovation Award for its trailblazing Biowire™ II heart-on-a-chip platform. This solution produces mature, engineered, human cardiac tissues and demonstrates promise as a valuable predictive tool for cardiac drug discovery and development. It can potentially advance precision care using patient-derived, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)-generated cardiomyocyte cell lines to identify a patient’s specific treatment needs.
“TARA’s in vitro Biowire™ II heart-on-a-chip model employs iPSCs to generate cardiac tissues. The platform biomimetically exercises the immature tissue until it exhibits the characteristics of adult human cardiac tissue,” said Deepak Jayakumar, Senior research analyst. “These engineered tissues closely mimic functional human heart muscles, which, in turn, allows pharmaceuticals to predict the side effects and therapeutic efficacy of their drugs, without the need for animal or human testing.”
In addition to accelerating the drug discovery and development process, Biowire™ II, due to its high degree of physiological human-relevancy, can decrease associated costs by providing better human translation data than what is possible from existing assays and animal model studies. It can also help eliminate drugs that have unacceptable levels of cardiotoxicity early in the drug discovery process and highlight the elements that aid in the design of superior drugs.
Some of the unique functional metrics of the Biowire™ II platform-produced cardiac tissues are positive force-frequency, inotropic response, improved post-rest potentiation, decreased spontaneous beating, improved structural alignment, and adult-like action potential. The platform is capable of measuring important metrics of human cardiac physiology such as maximum force, rates of contraction, relaxation, calcium handling, electrophysiology, gene expression and structure. These established functional metrics empower the Biowire™ II heart-on-a-chip platform to ascertain whether a new drug is improving the normal pumping mechanism of the heart and whether the improvement is due to the heart not filling up or because it was unable to distribute blood.
“Additionally, the Biowire™ II platform can engineer tissues that accurately mimic specific human heart failure phenotypes. These diseased tissue constructs can be employed in the discovery and development of novel medicines to treat heart failure phenotypes as well as in toxicology studies,” noted Deepak. “Unlike most organ-on-a-chip companies that develop multi-organ chips or several single organ-on-a-chip platforms, TARA Biosystems singularly focuses on the development of heart-on-a-chip technology. This enables the company to deliver a platform capable of comprehensively measuring functional metrics that can reveal deep insights for use in cardiac safety and mechanistic studies.”
Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has developed a product with innovative features and functionality that is gaining rapid acceptance in the market. The award recognizes the quality of the solution and the customer value enhancements it enables.
Frost & Sullivan Best Practices awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research to identify best practices in the industry.
About TARA Biosystems
TARA Biosystems is a human heart-on-a-chip company headquartered in New York which has developed a proprietary platform of cardiac tissue models. Through these physiologically human-relevant predictive models, the company offers a variety of services and solutions that can decisively evaluate the safety and efficacy of novel biopharmaceutical drugs and strengthen the drug discovery, and development pipeline.
About Frost & Sullivan
Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants. For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community. Contact us: Start the discussion.
Accelerator Life Science Partners Launches Magnolia Neurosciences Corporation with $31 Million Series A to Develop Targeted Neuroprotective Therapies
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–August 13, 2018
Accelerator Life Science Partners (Accelerator), a leading life science investment and management firm, today announced that it has launched Magnolia Neurosciences Corporation, a company developing a new class of neuroprotective medicines. Co-founded by Accelerator and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson), the company will further develop discoveries made by scientists in MD Anderson’s Therapeutics Discovery division and the Neurodegeneration Consortium (NDC).
Investors participating in the $31 Million Series A financing include AbbVie Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, ARCH Venture Partners, Eli Lilly and Company, Innovate NY Fund, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., the Partnership Fund for New York City, Pfizer Ventures, Watson Fund, L.P., WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund and 180 Degree Capital Corp.
New York, NY – August 6, 2018 – Crain’s Custom, a division of Crain’s New York Business, today announced the inaugural Notable Women in Health Care, which honors executives, researchers and clinicians who have had a profound impact through work in their careers and in their communities. This list of Notable Women in Health Care is part of a year-long series from Crain’s New York Business to celebrate women in the workplace, across industries.
The Notable Women in Health Care honoree program garnered nominations across a spectrum of health care organizations, from hospitals and nonprofits to medical colleges and health care groups in the New York City metropolitan area. In order to qualify, nominees were required to be in the health care industry in the New York City metropolitan area, in either an administrative or a clinical role.
The finalists were selected by a Crain’s custom team including award-winning health care journalist Barbara Benson, based on a combination of professional achievements, community service, track record of mentoring others, and promotion of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
The complete list of honorees for Notable Women in Health Care can be found in the August 6 print issue of Crain’s New York Business and online, here.
“Notable Women in Health Care is the fourth honoree program in a year-long series meant to celebrate and laud female executives who have impacted New York City in major ways. It honors those with both professional achievements and exceptional civic and philanthropic activities,” said Patty Oppenheimer, Director of Custom Content for Crain’s Custom.
Accelerator Will Fuel Growth by Boosting State’s Ability to Capture and Retain NY-Bred Life Science Innovation
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that IndieBio, the world’s leading bio-accelerator, is expected to open in New York City in 2019. IndieBio will provide life science start-ups with the tools, resources, network and expertise needed to commercialize their discoveries. IndieBio, a highly experienced and well-regarded accelerator run by SOSV, one of the world’s most active venture capital firms, was chosen by Empire State Development following a competitive Request for Proposals to serve the needs of early-stage life science companies and boost New York’s ability to capture and retain New York-bred life science innovation.
“New York is proud to be on the forefront of science and technology, creating jobs, driving economic growth and spurring cutting edge research and development,” Governor Cuomo said. “By welcoming IndieBio to New York, we are taking a major step forward to ensure that this state remains a global leader for the rapidly growing life science industry.”
By Kate King
Business accelerator IndieBio plans to open a location in New York City next year after securing $25 million in funding from the state.
The accelerator will work with 20 startup companies a year, providing each with an investment of up to $2 million as well as mentorship and business training. The program is part of a broader push by economic development officials to boost the state’s biotechnology, biomedical and pharmaceutical industries.
“You’re talking about a state that is a research powerhouse,” said Howard Zemsky, president of Empire State Development Corp., the state’s economic-development agency. “We have the raw materials here and the assets to translate into commercial enterprise, and that’s the overarching objective.”
Founded in San Francisco three years ago, IndieBio has worked with 90 companies that have gone on to raise more than $165 million in venture capital funding, according to founder Arvind Gupta. The accelerator is looking for a 12,000 to 20,000-square-foot location, preferably in Manhattan near a major transportation hub, that will offer laboratory facilities as well as office space “so science and business can work hand-in hand,” he said.
“There is a huge amount of talent that is untapped potential in New York,” Mr. Gupta said. “Really the challenge will be galvanizing that ecosystem and having it believe there is a new way of starting bio-tech companies that can be lower cost, faster to market.”
Accelerators and incubators are a key component to helping New York capitalize on the scientific discoveries made in the state, said Kathryn Wylde, president of Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit business organization. In the past, scientists often have sold their technology to venture capitalists located in Massachusetts or California, she said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that by welcoming IndieBio to New York, “we are taking a major step forward to ensure that this state remains a global leader for the rapidly growing life science industry.”
Partnership for New York City is investing $10 million from its own fund into New York-based companies that participate in IndieBio’s accelerator and is raising another $40 million from private investors.
“The idea is to create a broad-based venture capital interest that is local,” Ms. Wylde said. “This is a real culture shift for New York’s institutions as they encourage their scientists to turn their discoveries into commercial enterprise and become entrepreneurs.”
The state’s $25 million investment will be delivered over five years and is part of a $620 million initiative that provides tax credits and other investments with the goal of developing a “life sciences” research cluster. New York City also has pledged $500 million to bolster the industry through tax incentives, investments in incubators and a new research and entrepreneurial-training campus.
The AI-enabled digital wellness clinic announces seed round of funding to continue providing personalized care for workers across the country
New York, NY – July 12, 2018 – Spring Health, the digital wellness platform making mental well-being easy to navigate for businesses and employees, today announced the close of its $6M seed round, bringing the total amount raised up to $8M. In an all-female led fundraise, the round was led by Rethink Impact with additional investments by Work-Bench, BBG Ventures, and the Partnership Fund for New York City. Existing investors RRE Ventures and William K. Warren Foundation also participated. As a result of the funding, Spring Health will continue expand its product and scale to offer wellness benefits nationwide.
One in five Americans struggle with mental illness (National Institute of Mental Health), yet most employees do not receive the mental healthcare they need through company benefits. Spring Health’s mission to make the journey to emotional well-being more personalized and convenient has resonated with clients across the country, ranging from global Fortune 500 companies to high-growth startups like DigitalOcean, Zola, and Niantic. Typically one in every three employees will sign up for Spring Health, which boasts engagement rates that are 20x higher than the average Employee Assistance Program.
“We started Spring Health because we were exasperated by how cumbersome, painful and expensive the typical mental health care journey is. We completely reinvented the mental health care experience, and our early customers loved it. We’re excited to scale the offering nation-wide with this fundraise,” says April Koh, CEO and co-founder of Spring Health. “During a time when mental health is such a relevant topic, we are using our platform to lead the conversation and break stigmas around mental health, specifically in the workplace.”
Spring Health serves as an online mental health clinic, using proprietary clinically-validated artificial intelligence to offer personalized wellness recommendations, including specific treatment options, suggested exercise regimens, and self-help resources. Users register for the platform and are prompted to complete a dynamic questionnaire that adapts according to their responses. From there, proprietary AI recommends a personalized wellness plan that is most likely to work for the individual, based on data from aggregated clinical trials and thousands of electronic health records. Patients are then matched with a personal care navigators (trained clinicians) as well as a licensed mental health professional from Spring Health’s best-in-class provider network through Spring’s proprietary matching algorithms.
“It is rare to have the opportunity to partner with an organization like Spring Health and build on their success of breaking stigmas around mental health,” says Heidi Patel, Partner at Rethink Impact. “There is huge demand for better mental health care access nationally, we are proud to join Spring Health in expanding and impacting people across the nation.”
“What excites us about Spring Health is their application of machine learning paired with deep domain and clinical expertise in mental health,” says Jessica Lin, co-founder and General Partner at Work-Bench. “This makes their platform an incredibly valuable and evidence-based asset for the enterprise, where employees can benefit personally, and corporations save costs on health spend and boost employee retention.”
Having published research describing its precision medicine technology in leading medical journals like JAMA and Lancet Psychiatry, Spring Health improves behavioral health outcomes and minimizes the steep cost associated with mental health for employees and employers alike. In addition to saving costs for employers, Spring Health’s clinically validated program boosts employee retention and productivity.
For Spring Health media assets, please visit Dropbox.
For additional details or to sign up for the platform, please visit springhealth.com.
About Spring Health
Spring Health, a digital mental health clinic, helps businesses and employees navigate mental health by providing a fully immersive and personalized platform that enables users to be connected with the right health professionals for them. With its clinically-validated AI, Spring Health eliminates the trial and error that typically comes with identifying the right treatment course, with users receiving plans seven weeks faster than average. Headquartered in New York, Spring is providing smarter mental healthcare for professionals across the US.
U.S. medical startups raised a record $3.9 billion in venture capital in the first quarter of 2015 amid rising investor interest in biotechnology, digital health and health-care services.
The total surpassed the previous record high of $3.42 billion invested in the second quarter of 2014, according to data provider Dow Jones VentureSource. A strong market for initial public offerings, growing confidence in the success of drugs in clinical trials and acquisitions by large drug manufacturers that need to replenish their pipelines drove the investment.
“What we are seeing is a very quick steepening of the valuation curve,” said Philippe Chambon, managing director of New Leaf Venture Partners, which invests in health-care startups.
Spring Health raises $6M to help employees get access to personalized mental health treatment
In recent months, we’ve seen more and more funding flowing into tools for mental wellness — whether that’s AI-driven tools to help patients find help to meditation apps — and it seems like that trend is starting to pick up even more steam as smaller companies are grabbing the attention of investors.
There’s another one picking up funding today in Spring Health, a platform for smaller companies to help their employees get more access to mental health treatment. The startup looks to give employers a simple, effective way to start offering that treatment for their employees in the form of personalized mental wellness plans. The employees get access to confidential plans in addition to access to a network and ways to get in touch with a therapist or psychiatrist as quickly as possible. The company said it has raised an additional $6 million in funding led by Rethink Impact, with Work-Bench, BBG Ventures, and The Partnership Fund for New York City joining the round. RRE Ventures and the William K. Warren Foundation also participated.
“…I realized that mental health care is largely a guessing game: you use trial-and-error to find a compatible therapist, and you use trial-and-error to find the right treatment regimen, whether that’s a specific cocktail of medications or a specific type of psychotherapy,” CEO and co-founder April Koh said. “Everything around us is personalized these days – like shopping on Amazon, search results on Google, and restaurant recommendations on Yelp – but you can’t get personalized recommendations for your mental health care. I wanted to build a platform that connects you with the right care for you from the very beginning. So I partnered with leading expert on personalized psychiatry, Dr. Adam Chekroud our Chief Scientist, and my friend Abhishek Chandra, our CTO, to start Spring Health.”
Lab created by Accenture and Partnership Fund for NYC continues to accelerate adoption of innovative technologies in New York City, including artificial intelligence, internet of things and virtual reality
NEW YORK: June 21, 2018 – Eleven emerging technology companies will debut their innovations at the FinTech Innovation Lab New York’s Demo Day today at the Bank of America Tower at Bryant Park.
Founded in 2010 by Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and the Partnership Fund for New York City, the FinTech Innovation Lab New York provides early- and growth-stage fintech companies with access to the world’s leading financial institutions. The Lab was established to help make New York a leader in fintech and grow technology jobs by leveraging the concentration of large financial services institutions and deep domain expertise that exists in the city. Since the New York Lab’s inception, its alumni companies have raised more than US$665 million and completed 170 pilot programs, and four of the companies have been acquired.
The 11 companies in this year’s Lab leverage a variety of technologies — including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the internet of things, predictive analytics and virtual reality — to address challenges related to cybersecurity, IT infrastructure flexibility, payment collection and risk mitigation, among other areas. The Lab was expanded this year to include a dedicated InsurTech track.
“Interest in innovation and emerging technologies by the financial services community continues to expand, and our new InsurTech track was launched to address the growing demand by the insurance sector in new solutions,” said Maria Gotsch, president and CEO of the Partnership Fund for New York City and co-head of the FinTech Innovation Lab. “The tremendous support by leaders of New York’s business community is what powers the FinTech Innovation Lab and makes it so unique. Having the innovators working in collaboration with the financial institutions and venture community is a key part of what is driving New York City’s leadership in fintech.”
Selected by senior technology executives from among the Lab’s 43 participating financial institutions, the companies have spent the last 12 weeks receiving intensive product and business-development advice, as well as mentoring, from senior executives in the financial, technology and venture-capital sectors.
“We saw yet another year of increased energy and engagement from our partner financial institutions in the Lab,” said David Treat, a managing director in Accenture’s Financial Services practice and co-head of the Fintech Innovation Lab New York. “Rapidly maturing technologies including AI, cloud, machine learning, predictive analytics and internet of things are enabling banks and insurance companies to accelerate their digital journeys. This year’s participating companies offer financial services firms a wide array of innovative solutions to enable deeper insights into their data, greater efficiency and better customer experiences.”
The following 2018 FinTech Innovation Lab New York participants will present their innovations today to an audience of more than 250 financial services executives and venture capitalists:
- Alpha Vertex – develops world-class analytical solutions to improve how investors predict and plan for the future. Its advanced AI automates the forecasting of asset returns.
- Cutover – helps financial services organizations successfully deliver more technology improvements for their customers and regulators while reducing the risk of outages.
- Diffeo – whoseAI-powered research assistant connects everyday tools — including the web, email, shared drives and enterprise data portals — to uncover relationships across vast amounts of disparate data and present valuable insights.
- Galactic Fog – provides an easy-to-use platform for enterprise development and ops teams to rapidly build, deploy and manage cross-cloud serverless and container technologies, while driving improved security through seamless audit and governance capabilities.
- Habit – uses real time consumer data—sourced from smartphone and IoT devices—to create behavioral profiles that enable insurance companies to improve risk models and offer better products and services.
- Liveoak Technologies – whose secure, digital collaboration platform enables financial institutions to engage with customers remotely, reducing the time to on-board new customers and increasing the number of digital transactions performed each year.
- Open Data Nation – uses predictive analytics and machine learning to assess and mitigate risk events, helping insurers tap into public records across hundreds of U.S. cities to extract insights that evaluate risk.
- StrongArm Tech – uses wearable IoT sensors and AI-driven cloud computing to collect, analyze, predict, and deliver actionable insights on how to mitigate the risk of injury for the industrial workforce.
- Uplevel Security – uses graph analysis and machine learning to help security teams resolve threats faster and more effectively.
- Virtualitics – provides advanced data analytics software that merges AI with virtual reality, where the AI finds the insights in data and the visualization of those insights provided by VR expands the ability to make smart decisions based on data. Built on 10 years of research at Caltech.
- YayPay – whose software automates the accounts receivable process—including communication and collections—and provides predictive analytics around credit and collection risk. YayPay makes collecting money, fast, easy and highly predictable.
The selection committee for the New York FinTech Innovation Lab added eight new insurance partners this year to support the InsurTech track, and comprises executives from the following participating financial institutions: Ally Financial; American Express; American International Group, Inc.; AON; Bank of America; Barclays; BlackRock; Capital One; Chubb; Citi; Credit Suisse; Goldman Sachs; The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America; The Hartford; JPMorgan Chase & Co; Marsh & McLennan Companies; MetLife; Morgan Stanley; New York Life; RBC Capital Markets; The Travelers Companies, Inc.; USAA; Wells Fargo; XL Catlin; and Zurich.
Supporting venture-capital firms include Anthemis, Bain Capital Ventures, Canaan, Contour Venture Partners, Nyca Partners, Rho Ventures, RRE Ventures and Warburg Pincus.
Following the success of the FinTech Innovation Lab New York, Accenture established three other FinTech Innovation Labs: the FinTech Innovation Lab London, founded in 2012, and the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong and the FinTech Innovation Lab Dublin, both founded in 2014. The FinTech Innovation Labs are now a leading venue for introducing financial services firms to breakthrough technologies that improve efficiency, security and customer experience. The Labs’ alumni have raised a total of nearly US$1.2 billion in venture capital financing since participating in the Lab.
Participating financial institutions and venture-capital firms commented on their involvement in the FinTech Innovation Lab New York:
“Ally has been proudly supporting the New York FinTech Innovation Lab for six years, helping to support and shape early stage companies and technologies for the future,” said Michael Baresich, chief information officer at Ally. “As a digital financial company, technology plays a key role in both the development of our products and the delivery of unique customer experiences, and events like Demo Day allow us to closely explore the latest innovations.”
“The FinTech Innovation Lab plays a critical role in strengthening New York’s fintech ecosystem and fostering a mutually supportive community of investors, entrepreneurs, financial institutions and service providers,” said Matt Harris, managing director at Bain Capital Ventures. “No other program rivals the Lab in its breadth and depth of industry support. We continue to be impressed by the Lab’s ability to help financial services institutions gain access to innovation at a time when the industry is so eager for new ideas.”
“Bank of America is proud to be a founding sponsor of the FinTech Innovation Lab,” said David Reilly, Bank of America Global Banking & Markets CIO. “The innovation ecosystem built through the collaboration between financial services companies like ours and fintech startups ultimately benefits how we service and interact with our customers and clients,” said David Reilly, Bank of America Global Banking and Markets CIO.
“Disruption of the insurance sector is inevitable. At Chubb, we want to continue to be part of that disruption as we strive to serve our customer’s needs,” said Monique Shivanandan, Chubb’s Global CIO. “Working with the start-ups and our peers in the FinTech Innovation Lab is a way for us to be part of shaping that future. It’s key that we have diversity of thought and talent in IT and the business.”
“Citi is proud to be a founding sponsor of the New York FinTech Innovation Lab. We value the opportunity to engage with leading start-ups and institutions on technologies that will advance our future capabilities and Demo Day is a great event to see these innovations first-hand,” said Motti Finkelstein, CTO, Global Strategy Planning and Americas, Managing Director, Citi.
“Credit Suisse values our partnership with the FinTech Innovation Lab program and the many interesting opportunities it has afforded us to work with innovative startups,” added Adrianne Dicker, Global Innovation Lead for the Credit Suisse Group Chief Information Officer.
“JPMorgan Chase is proud to partner with the New York Fin Tech Innovation Lab in order to continue to foster the start-up ecosystem in New York City. We are constantly looking at innovation across all areas of emerging technology that can help create transformational business value for our clients, our people and our Firm and we’re pleased to mentor the breakthrough companies in this year’s lab,” said Larry Feinsmith, Managing Director and Head of Global Technology Strategy, Innovation & Partnerships, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“At Morgan Stanley, we believe in a holistic approach to innovation that is inspired by external entrepreneurs in collaboration with our internal experts and innovators,” said Shawn Melamed, Managing Director and Head of the Technology Business Development and Innovation Office, Morgan Stanley. “We are honored and excited to support these promising entrepreneurs as they build their companies here in New York, where financial acumen adds additional fuel to fintech innovation.”
“Since its initial launch in 2011, the FinTech Innovation Lab has had a tremendous impact on the fintech ecosystem in New York City, and has attracted support from most financial services companies in the area. We are delighted to see the growing interest in the sector, as well as the increasing high quality of the participating companies,” said Habib Kairouz, Managing Director, Rho Ventures.
“The Fintech Innovation Lab does an exceptional job at working with startups and corporations to ensure that technology is being used to solve a real use case and not a theoretical problem, while providing key mentorship to early stage teams. We are glad to be a part of the program and we’re especially delighted to see them open up an Insurance track this time around,” added Stuart Ellman, General Partner at RRE Ventures.
“We’re focused on innovation across every aspect of our business, particularly by leveraging data, analytics, artificial intelligence and the internet of things,” said Bruce Gifford, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Travelers. “We’re pleased to participate in FinTech Innovation Lab New York. It’s a great opportunity to connect with technology start-ups that can help us continue to improve the services and experiences we provide to our customers and partners.”
About the Partnership Fund for New York City
The Partnership Fund for New York City is the $160 million investment arm of the Partnership for New York City, New York’s leading business organization. The Fund’s mission is to engage the City’s business leaders to identify and support promising entrepreneurs—in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors—to create jobs, spur new business and expand opportunities for New Yorkers to participate in the City’s economy. As an “evergreen” fund, realized gains are continuously reinvested. The Partnership Fund Board is led by Co-Chairmen, Charles R. Kaye and Tarek Sherif. Maria Gotsch, President and CEO, leads the team. More information about the Fund can be found at www.pfnyc.org.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 442,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.
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“For the past six months, J.P. Morgan Chase has quietly been shuttling clients to the bank’s technology lab on the West Side of Manhattan for a glimpse at the future of work.
The executives — treasurers and finance chiefs of some of the world’s biggest companies — were introduced to an artificial intelligence-powered servant that J.P. Morgan hopes will soon be able to answer queries and anticipate their needs, a first in the world of corporate payments. But before that could happen, the machine needed contact with people to figure out what makes humans tick. The bank is widening the trials with select clients next week and plans to release it to more companies next year.
“I am continuously learning and improving,” the program says shortly after introducing itself in a chatbox. “Watch out for new features.”
J.P. Morgan’s latest attempt at furthering automation in finance is happening in its treasury services division, a key business that helps corporate clients from Honeywell International to Facebook move money around the world. Unseen by retail consumers, the unit handles an average of $5 trillion daily, from the mundane (payroll and supplier remittances) to the unusual (multibillion-dollar checks for huge mergers).
The area, once considered boring, has gotten more attention lately. Activist investor ValueAct Capital Partners built a $1.2 billion stake in Citigroup this year partly on the strength of the bank’s treasury services unit and other steady, hard-to-dislodge services where technology is lowering costs. The industry’s revenue is expected to grow 7 percent a year through 2025, according to J.P. Morgan.
AI goes corporate
Big lenders, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, have already rolled out virtual assistants to millions of retail customers, but the technology is just making its way to corporate clients, who present bigger challenges for artificial intelligence programmers. For instance, while a checking customer typically has a handful of accounts, a company could have 10,000 accounts in dozens of currencies around the world, and each individual corporate user typically has permission to see only certain accounts.
It’s the latest example of technology that was pioneered for retail use spreading to institutional clients. Earlier this year, J.P. Morgan rolled out Amazon’s voice-activated assistant Alexa for investment banking clients to help them access research. Not long after the bank created mobile apps for its trading business, clients were using them to execute large trades, including a $400 million currency wager last year.
The bank, which is hoping to unseat Citigroup as the leader in wholesale payments, started its virtual assistant project late last year after clients asked for an easier way to navigate the firm’s online portal, according to Jason Tiede, innovation head for treasury services. The bank hired a New York-based startup called Kasisto to run the program’s AI engine.”