Think tank for the digital world of finance
The Sparkassen Innovation Hub pools skills and develops ideas
Co-working, think tanks, brain pools: to encourage innovations, new forms of teamwork have appeared and proven themselves to be a viable alternative to the old methods. Tried and tested in other industry branches, the time has come for banks to adapt these strategies.
Brain pools to meet big challenges
Whether it’s digitisation or the dynamics of innovation – establishing brain pools is always a reliable stratagem for meeting big challenges. Give the companies’ pioneers and visionaries a chance to shine and facilitate synergy effects by creating the right environment. That is exactly what electronics giant Philips is doing in Hamburg: in a newly established Health Innovation Port (HIP), start-up companies are independently working on new ideas and products for the health sector. What they lack in man-power, these start-ups often only consist of three or four people, the make up in enthusiasm. For a small fee, Philips is providing the office space and infrastructure. A clever move – this way, Philips is very close to the ideas generated by the HIP. Promising concepts can be turned into collaborations at a very early stage, with no need to employ Philips’ own R&D division. Health insurance provider Techniker Krankenkasse has now also latched onto this venture.
Naturally, digitisation plays a huge role for the start-ups. Virtual reality glasses for surgeons, digital counselling during a pregnancy or customised nutritional plans for people with chronic ailments – the start-ups are identifying areas within the health sector for which they can develop new services and products. And while their areas of expertise are not readily available within Philips, they are brought into the company via HIP.
Hackathons as a solution for banks
In the world of finance the need for innovation is also palpable. But it’s not as easy for banks as it is for Philips. Even before digitisation of the financial industry was recognised as a challenge for the future, enterprising fin-techs had already worked on new products and concepts. And they didn’t need close ties to big companies, unlike the start-ups in the more complex health sector.
So the banks have to find their own way. And to this end, the savings bank group Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe has established the Sparkassen Innovation Hub (S-Hub). S-Hub is holding regular so-called “Product Discoveries”: competitions, where young developers are specifically working on new products and troubleshooting. Product Discoveries are organised as hackathons – for two days the teams are working nearly around the clock on a solution to the given problem. Sizeable cash prizes are awarded and viable concepts are fleshed out by developers and S-Hub. These co-operations simplify market-entry for the developers and secure innovative applications for the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe.
Speed is of the essence
Knowing how lengthy and complicated the process of forming a company can be in Germany, it is entirely understandable how young developers are attracted to the idea of cooperating with banks. They can pursue their concepts while the banks have the customers at their disposal, as well as the necessary data to make the innovations work. Hence, the S-Hub-hackathons are also called “symbioticons”.
At best, both sides can enter the market rather quickly and the dynamics of the digital sector are implemented in the world of banking. Speed is of the essence – the countless other fin-techs out there are not loafing about, they are actually ahead of the competition.