The TD Bank Group held their annual tech day yesterday, and with it came a slew of announcements surrounding the bank’s investments into Canada’s innovation and technology world.
In total, TD revealed six separate announcements: three involving direct funding from the bank to different organizations; two involving new AI initiatives; and one focusing the expansion of a fintech partnership. All of the announcements revolve around TD’s commitment to expanding their services and “focusing on improving the lives of customers instead of chasing shiny new things,” as TD’s group head of innovation Michael Rhodes put it.
Creative Destruction Lab
As one of the leading scale-up organizations in the country—and a recent recipient of $25 million from the federal government—it seems like the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) can do no wrong right now. TD will act as a corporate founding member of the CDL’s new health stream, contributing $2.5 million over five years. The health stream will operate out of CDL-Toronto (at the University of Toronto) and CDL-West, at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
“The University of Toronto has a deep history of healthcare innovation, dating back to the discovery of insulin in 1921,” said Sonia Sennik, executive director of the CDL. “Thanks to TD, the Creative Destruction Lab’s Health Stream can accelerate its programming and continue to build on this legacy to bring a whole new generation of medical breakthroughs to life.”
The CDL is a non-profit that brings in science-based ventures, helps them scale-up through workshops and networking with venture and business professionals then turn them into successful startups. The health stream is the latest in industry-specific streams for CDL, having recently launched a space cohort this past spring.
Building on this, Layer 6—which TD acquired for $100 million earlier this year—will put their machine learning and AI expertise towards improving the health of those living with diabetes in Canada by working with students and researchers from the University of Toronto.
“Healthcare is one of the next frontiers for artificial intelligence to make a meaningful and positive impact on the lives of Canadians,” said Tomi Poutanen, co-founder of Layer 6 and TD’s Chief AI Officer. “It’s also an opportunity for us to continue to lead the world in advancing Canadian AI talent and capabilities. The limitless potential for data to make personalized therapies, tailored approaches and early diagnosis accessible to all Canadians is what drives our team to push forward and continue to innovate.”
As part of their Ready Commitment (the bank’s corporate citizenship platform), TD is contributing $1 million to help develop a TD Sustainable Future Lab in Waterloo. It will act as a cleantech accelerator to offer mentorship to startups working towards low-carbon economy solutions.
The lab will be located at the David Johnson Research and Technology Park and its programming will be run by The Accelerator Centre. It will support up to 40 startups over five years and will officially open in December this year.
“Building a low-carbon economy is an opportunity for Canada, and this important contribution builds on our goal of helping to create a sustainable and inclusive tomorrow,” said Nicole Vadori, head of environment at TD. “The Waterloo region has a rich history of innovation and nurturing the development of global technology companies and leaders. We believe our contribution to homegrown cleantech companies will help them compete in the global market.”
Flybits has been working with TD since 2015 and is now expanding the scope of their partnership to collaborate on enhanced micro-personalized mobile experiences. In Canada, Flybits powers the TD for Me mobile concierge as well as other mobile features, and they will now further deliver contextual customer engagement such as tips, offers and other relevant location-based information.
“Our collaboration with TD has helped to propel our business forward and expanding our relationship will put us in a distinguished position as we continue to grow our business internationally,” said Dr. Hossein Rahnama, founder and CEO, Flybits. “Banks are offering lifestyle-focused digital services that make it easier for customers to live their lives and as a data intelligence company, we see immense opportunities to work with TD to power new experiences for their U.S. customers.”
Earlier this summer, Flybits helped TD customers geolocate their mortgage as another proximity-focused feature for the bank.
The inaugural startups to join TD’s Patents for Startups program have been announced, and they include Senso.Ai, an AI company that uses machine learning to detect key advice moments for advisors; Boro.one, a blockchain company that focuses on the sharing economy by lowering prices and creating efficient for products listed on their site; and Cinchy.co, a data collaboration platform that has created a better alternative to traditional data sharing for banks.
TD’s new program will help these three startups patent and protect their IP through seed-stage funding. The three companies will retain the rights to all of their tech and platforms.
“TD’s Patent for Startups Program has been instrumental in enabling us to create the next level of customer experiences for the retail banking industry,” said Saroop Bharwani, founder of Senso.Ai. “We believe that our latest innovation will empower banks to offer more personalized customer experiences and make a true impact on the customer experience. Participating in TD’s program is a key part of our plan to commercialize our ideas and then expand into new markets.”
Data and Analytics
TD has announced a $4 million investment to the Rotman School of management at the University of Toronto to attract top talent in the data and analytics fields. The money will go towards creating a TD Management Data & Analytics Lab that will focus on practical applications of data analytics theory through workshops, hackathons and speakers.
“Data and analytics are the engines powering the future of Canada’s economy,” says Christian Nelissen, TD’s head of enterprise data and analytics. “That new reality means building talented teams that have a deep understanding of the potential of data and analytics, in financial services and beyond. We are looking for visionaries who can see what’s possible – things we might not even have thought of yet.”
TD has worked with Rotman before, investing $1 million last November to create a FinHub that hones in on new ways to merge finances and technology.
Finally, TD and the University of Toronto’s Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR) centre announced an agreement to bring new resources to TD Wealth customers. By using research from BEAR, TD hopes to better understand the emotions and behaviours that drive decision making in the financial world. Behavioural finance is quickly becoming one of the most important fields to understand in the banking world, as institutions strive to understand why clients making biased or unpredictable decisions when it comes to money.
“We are thrilled with the support from TD Wealth as we conduct leading-edge research in behavioural economics,” said Dilip Soman, director of BEAR, Corus Chair in Communication Strategy and Professor of Marketing, Rotman School, University of Toronto. “This partnership with TD Wealth will allow us to further examine this important field of study and develop research on tangible applications. Eventually, we would like a better understanding of the underlying motivations and behaviours that drive financial decision making, and how we can ensure that these behaviours do not negatively impact our financial investing habits.”