NAB offers up AU$2b to grow Aussie startup scene

AU$2 billion over five years has been set aside by the bank to help emerging technology companies build and grow their businesses.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

National Australia Bank (NAB) has announced its plan to grow the nation's technology industry, allocating AU$2 billion over five years to help startups build and grow their businesses.

The bank will provide Australian "tech-innovators" with loans, as well as facilitate access to capital markets. NAB said it will also support companies with transactional banking and risk management.

"This commitment is about giving technology companies with demonstrated potential for growth the shot-in-the-arm they need to be bigger and better," NAB Business and Private Banking chief customer officer Anthony Healy said.

"These tech-driven companies are often already profitable but need further capital and banking expertise to grow."

See also: NAB's new IT outsourcing model might have saved it from extinction

Healy believes productivity in Australia's technology sector can be boosted by supporting companies at a "critical stage" of their lifecycle.

"NAB can support technology companies at every stage of their development -- from NAB Ventures which backs starts ups through to big business. This now includes a new team focussed purely on high-growth technology companies. We believe this is a unique proposition from a major Australian bank," he added.

"This AU$2 billion commitment is further demonstration that we are listening to our customers and supporting their needs today, and planning and investing in Australia's long-term future."

NAB last year pumped an additional AU$50 million over two years into NAB Ventures, with the fund's managing director Todd Forest at the time telling ZDNet it allows NAB to invest in startups that enable the bank to either execute what it does better or enter into adjacent areas that will drive value.

The investment arm was stood up in July 2015 with an initial AU$50 million investment from the bank, with the latest funding taking the total to AU$100 million -- 100% of that is purely to be spent on the startups.

The bank has also partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch the NAB Cloud Guild, an internal program that offers up AWS skills training in a bid to boost the internal skills shortage it was facing.

See also: How NAB is taking Australia's skills shortage into its own hands (TechRepublic)

In delivering its 2017 financial results, NAB announced it was planning on cutting a total of 4,000 jobs from its workforce. 6,000 roles were impacted as the bank "further automated and simplified" its business and 2,000 new jobs were created as a result of the restructure.

A week later, the bank unveiled its plans to begin immediately hiring more staff, telling ZDNet it would be seeking 600 technology specialists spanning software engineering, data, architecture, and cybersecurity.

The recruitment drive is part of NAB's plan to reshape its workforce and create up to 2,000 new jobs by 2020.

"We are improving the experience of our customers, reshaping our workforce, and growing our bank in an environment of rapid technological and regulatory change," then-NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn said at the time.

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