The world is changing, today more than ever. Innovation is everywhere, even when it comes to handling your day-to-day banking affairs. At BNP Paribas Fortis, we are however aware that human needs go further than just mobile banking apps and smartphone-based payment facilities. We therefore strive to bring together people and resources to create innovative ventures that are able to create added value for society now and in the future.
We rely on the expertise of our staff to support companies and meet their financing needs, but we also believe in the power of the crowd.
Crowdfunding is all about growth, both for the entrepreneurs concerned and society at large. Moreover, this alternative source of financing ensures that – since it is the general public who provide backing for the projects – they have real relevance to the community.
The purpose of crowdfunding is not however to replace bank lending. This is an innovative, non-traditional way for entrepreneurs and non-profit organisations to raise extra capital and finance their growth and BNP Paribas Fortis has teamed up with crowdfunding platform MyMicroInvest in order to make this new form of financing more readily accessible to its entrepreneur clients.
Crowdfunding is proving to be an ideal solution for projects whose main goal is to create social benefits rather than financial returns or where the chances of success are hard to assess. Accordingly, Hello bank! has launched, in collaboration with Ulule, Hello crowd!, a crowdfunding platform based on the principle of ‘give and take’, where the rewards are often symbolic rather than financial. The projects backed through this platform score high marks for entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and social solidarity.
BNP Paribas Fortis Foundation has also set up in conjunction with Ulule a separate crowdfunding platform designed to enable the Foundation and Ulule to assist charitable organisations which are receiving support from the Foundation, in their search for funds.
Co.Station is an accelerator whose purpose is to give a boost to young, innovative digital companies by providing them with collaborative workspaces, arranging training & coaching, transferring practical knowhow and creating networking opportunities.
Co.Station is first and foremost designed for scale-ups, i.e. young, ambitious companies that have already developed a working prototype of a product or service, which already have at least one customer and a revenue stream, and are now looking to scale up the business. Co.Station provides them with suitable accommodation for a certain period so that they can take the time they need to think, test, get moving and eventually to grow the business.
The first Co.Station space opened its doors in Brussels on 23 April 2015. A second venue has just been launched in Ghent and the Bank is planning to open other similar premises.
BNP Paribas Fortis is not only interested in existing companies. We are also committed to working hand-in-hand with the businesses of tomorrow. The better to serve these prospective firms, we have set up nine Innovation Hubs across Belgium. Companies can call upon the assistance of BNP Paribas Fortis experts who are specially trained to meet the needs of startups and scale-ups.
Home for Innovation
BNP Paribas Fortis strives to encourage innovation in a variety of ways and first and foremost we believe in the talents of our own employees. The aim of our Home for Innovation initiative is to challenge our staff to put forward ideas as to how the role of the Bank could develop over the coming years. In addition to coming up with new products and embarking on innovative projects, this in-house initiative places great importance on finding new, improved ways of working together, in order to provide a better service for our customers.
We have already run four ‘Sprint’ innovation sessions, in which some 400 Bank staff have so far taken part. From these sessions have arisen around 50 new ideas, from which 16 practical projects have been taken through the Home for Innovation process. The very first product scheduled for market launch following development via the Home for Innovation procedures is Easy Safe.