What’s Next in Innovation?

Financial Health – and the US-Based Financial Solutions Lab Is Making a Case for It (and You Can Apply Now)

When you think about innovation these days, AI and machine learning surge to the top of mind. But what if the most innovative things were simply those that could make financial health possible for more people?

The Financial Solutions Lab (FinLab) thinks so, and they’re on a hunt to find those very solutions. FinLab, a program managed by the nonprofit Center for Financial Services Innovation with founding partner JPMorgan Chase & Co., has as its mission to identify, test and bring to scale promising innovations that help Americans increase savings, improve credit, and build assets. Each year, the Lab names a new challenge and has an open call for innovative entrepreneurs who are working to solve those challenges, and then selects eight or nine of them to enter its virtual program. This year’s deadline for applications is fast approaching – all applications must be submitted by April 27, 2017.

Previous FinLab winners have included Digit, SupportPay, Lendstreet, Albert, Everlance, Even, and the nonprofit EARN, among others. The FinLab program is particularly well-regarded by VCs and other investors -- the 18 companies that have come through FinLab’s program thus far have collectively raised more than $100 million in funding, and have served more than 1 million consumers.

FinLab’s 2017 Challenge seeks founders with any solutions that can help Americans improve their financial health. Why such a broad issue? Most Americans are struggling financially. Some 57% of the population – or 138 million adults – have difficulty managing their day-to-day financial lives, establishing a cushion for financial resilience and positioning themselves for financial security and mobility.

That said, in addition to our broad call for applicants of all types under financial health, we have identified several areas where we would especially like to see more innovation:

  • Aging Americans
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • People of color
  • Women
  • Veterans

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it highlights the unique challenges facing a number of communities in our country. Some of these segments’ unique needs are covered on FinLab’s blog.

Should you apply this year? Yes, if you...

  • Have a technology product that can help make more Americans financially healthy, regardless of the population you serve.
  • Have a product that is leveraging technology to improve the financial health of any of the populations listed or any other vulnerable communities.

At the Financial Solutions Lab, we believe it’s important to shine a spotlight on the financial services needs of the most vulnerable – and it’s our greatest hope that by doing so, we may spark greater ideas, bigger thinking, action, and ultimately – innovation that can make more Americans financially healthy.

For more information about the Financial Solutions Lab and to apply to the 2017 Innovation Challenge, visit here. Applications are due April 27, so move fast!