BNP Paribas Fortis Innovation CSR

University Chair UAntwerp: co-innovation is the key to the future of the ports sector

Five years ago BNP Paribas Fortis and the University of Antwerp joined forces to set up the Chair in Transport, Logistics and Ports. On 23 April, they gathered all the actors in the sector at an event focusing on co-innovation, the most important challenge for the port industry in the decades ahead.

Particular attention was paid to the Chair’s new study, which charted the factors that determine the success or failure of innovations in the port sector. This study suggests that co-innovation is the key to the future of port-related innovation. Co-innovation is a new form of innovation whereby the various stakeholders jointly acquire new expertise and create opportunities in the supply chain for new partnerships. In the long term, this will lead to a balance between costs and profits as well as a greater competitive advantage.

More information:

Innoveren bedrijven uit de maritieme en havensector voldoende? / Les entreprises des secteurs maritime et portuaire sont-elles suffisamment innovantes? (not available in English)

University of Antwerp press release: “Innovation improves ports’ competitive advantage”

Have a look at the video below in which Valérie Du Bois, Client Director Corporate Banking and coordinator of Ports Practice at BNP Paribas Fortis, and Dr Christa Sys, holder of the Chair at the University of Antwerp, explain exactly what the Chair entails.

During the event a number of reflections around innovation surfaced, which often go beyond the maritime sector:

  • The Physical Internet

How can you optimise the way in which physical objects are transported, stored, supplied and used?  According to Sergio Barbarino, Research Fellow at Procter & Gamble, the answer lies in the Physical Internet. This is a global logistics system that interconnects physical objects, the operational aspect and digital information on both in order to achieve logistic efficiency and sustainability.

  • Faster innovation

According to Rob Harrison, CEO of marine terminal operator DP World Antwerp, you can speed up innovation not only by freeing up sufficient (financial) resources, but particularly by investing in skills and time. His advice is to test, test and test again during your innovation process.. Using common sense is essential here. And if something is not working, end it immediately.  

  • Evaluate at each step

In transport, excessive paperwork causes considerable time loss. That is why global container shipping company MSC has digitised its paper flows and is now keeping its entire IT platform in the cloud.  This way all stakeholders have access which ultimately leads to a more efficient transport. Lesley Claus, Business Development Manager at MSC Belgium, likes to emphasize the need to embrace change while taking time to evaluate so as to keep improving.

  • Innovation is a state of mind

Innovation is part of Google’s DNA. According to Tom De Block, Industry Manager at Google, this company lives by the 10x rule: "It's actually easier to improve by 10 times than it is to improve by 10%." If you want to bring about real change, and thus want to innovate, you have to create products and services that are ten times better than those that already exist. So don’t continuously try to hammer out a solution, but rethink the problem and discover new ways of looking at it. Customer involvement is essential here. 

Yvan De Cock, ‎Head of Corporate & Public Banking Belgium at BNP Paribas Fortis,  concludes: “This day and age you can no longer avoid innovation as a company. At BNP Paribas Fortis, we also work hard to innovate. We have initiated ‘Home for Innovation’ to challenge our own people to come up with ideas that will help to advance the bank’s role. This is not only about designing innovative products and setting up new projects, but also about finding other forms of collaboration. Moreover, we have established ‘innovation hubs’ which address the ecosystem in which young businesses (start-ups and scale-ups) are developing. The aim is to contribute our experience, our knowledge, our experts and our international network. At the same time, a large company like ours  can learn from the versatility of start-ups and scale-ups and their ideas. It is a win-win situation for all parties.”


University Chairs funded by BNP Paribas Fortis

BNP Paribas Fortis funds six Chairs at Belgian universities, namely at Vlerick, ULB-VUB, KU Leuven, Ulg – HEC Liège and the University of Antwerp. This is in line with BNP Paribas Fortis’s aim to be firmly integrated in Belgium’s social and economic fabric. The Chairs have a clear mission: academic research, education and the gathering of companies around new developments in areas that are important to the Belgian economy. “The bank offers the university the resources to conduct research and in return receives access to the results of that research. This enables the bank to increase the expertise of its staff and better support its customers,” comments Ilse D’hont, CSR Manager and Chair Coordinator at BNP Paribas Fortis.



More about innovation at BNP Paribas Fortis:

Kick-off of Co.Station BXL

BNP Paribas Fortis Foundation guides non-profits towards crowdfunding

‘MIT Technology Review’ launches ‘Innovators Under 35’ in Europe

MyMicroInvest and BNP Paribas Fortis in partnership on crowdfunding