Open innovation

Deeply anchored in the start-up ecosystem, BNP Paribas has steadily developed its leadership in open innovation and is now the benchmark bank for start-ups and innovative businesses. A position that will enable us to accelerate our transformation and enhance the value proposition of our products and services to meet the expectations and needs of all our customers.

What is Open innovation?

In 2003, Henry Chesbrough, professor at the University of Berkeley in the United States, first defined the term Open Innovation as “the sum of knowledge inputs and outputs designed to accelerate a company’s internal innovation process”. Source

It is one of the approaches to innovation

The result is collaboration between a multitude of players within a vast ecosystem of companies, institutions, start-ups, fintechs, entrepreneurs, networks and associations. In practical terms, the approach brings together startups that are inherently agile and innovative, and companies (such as large groups, banks, fintechs, etc...) that are more financially solid, but which innovate more slowly.

The benefits of Open Innovation 

For BNP Paribas, Open Innovation is a win-win approach. We encourage and develop collaborations with startups to increase the value proposition of the product or service we want to imagine, develop and create. Open Innovation enables us to respond to the growing need for digitisation in our sector and to remain competitive in our current competitive environment, and even to conquer new markets, but also to position ourselves in extra-banking offers such as beyond banking.

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The introduction of Open Innovation is having a significant impact on our working practices. It is instilling a culture of innovation and a spirit of initiative in our teams, while also bringing in new skills. The collective creativity of the teams involved is greatly stimulated, in particular thanks to design thinking (which places customers and their needs at the centre of the thinking process).

Aspects of Open Innovation at BNP Paribas

Our Open Innovation strategy focuses on working with startup companies in a variety of ways. Disruptive innovations, deeptechs, fintechs, insurtechs… BNP Paribas is an active and constant supporter of all startups.

Since 2017, BNP Paribas, the only financial group to represent Fintech/Insurtech themes, has been present at Station F Paris , the world’s largest startup incubator. The Group operates the B! UP accelerate programme powered by Plug&Play, aimed at mature and international start-ups. This is a programme where they can work with the Group’s business lines to develop a POC (Proof of Concept) or MVP (Minimum Viable Product) over the course of seasons (or batches) lasting from 3 to 6 months. 

Thanks to our partners and access to Station F, we’re at the heart of the Fintech Insurtech ecosystem, supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs. This is how we’re creating value for the Group’s business lines.” Marie Maffre, Head of BivwAk!, Open Innovation, BNP Paribas.

BivwAk!, BNP Paribas' transformation hub 

This hybrid space (physical and digital), located in Paris, brings together all the Group’s entities and business lines around two main goals:

  • Developing new services and new business models, either through in-house innovation or open innovation, capitalising on start-up solutions. This is the aim of B! UP explore, the BivwAk! early stage startup acceleration programme.
  • Deploying new skills, particularly in the areas of data, new technologies, new methodologies and positive impact
Discover BivwAk! offer

WAI (We are Innovation) the BNP Paribas BtoB startup accelerator

Since its creation in 2015, more than 150 startups have benefited from WAI Paris support. This 24-month programme offers access to a network of BNP Paribas customers, partners and experts. WAI Coverage’s 100 account managers, working in 62 WAI centres across the country, specialise in innovation. They are familiar with the specific needs of startups in the growth phase, helping them to scale up and provide support in raising funds.

Read more about We Are Innovation

BNP Paribas and fintechs: working together to innovate more effectively

Our support model for fintechs is based on 4 pillars:

1.Access to banking services

BNP Paribas offers banking solutions to support startups in their development, both in France and abroad. Thanks to our network of retail banks and our Corporate and Institutional Banking activities, these young companies have access to a comprehensive range of products and services, from the day-to-day management of their banking needs to the most advanced financial expertise.

In France, this support is provided by the WAI network of specialist business centres dedicated to innovative entrepreneurs and startups. In Belgium, BNP Paribas Fortis supports startup entrepreneurs in innovative areas through The Innovation Hub

2.Co-creation

BNP Paribas is developing the co-creation of new solutions for its customers based on the technological building blocks provided by the fintechs in its ecosystem. Several new payment solutions, in particular, have already emerged in recent years. Several projects have already been launched in recent years.

  • For our merchant customers in Europe, in 2021 Instanea, an instant payment solution created with Token.
  • In Poland, BNP Paribas Bank Polska has teamed up with Blik to enable our retail customers to pay easily, quickly and securely from their banking application.
  • In France, we’ve rolled out Heoh, a co-build that echoes our partnership with social enterprise MicroDON launched in 2014.
  •  In 2023, with the start-up Paylead, we launched “My Extras”, a cash back offer aimed at our individual customers and available on the “Mes Comptes” app.

As Carlo Bovero, Head of Innovative Payment Methods at BNP Paribas, explains: “Fintechs work on verticals in a specialised way. Integrating a specific solution into our customer pathway via a partnership enables us to shorten our time-to-market.

3.Acceleration 

We support the development of fintechs through incubators and accelerators. One example is our partnership with Plug and Play, a major, established Silicon Valley player with a strong international footprint. Plug and Play is considered to be one of the world’s leading open innovation platforms, having forged partnerships with many major groups and over 8,000 start-ups worldwide.
Housed in Station F Paris, the international B! UP accelerate programme powered by Plug&Play puts the Group’s business lines and functions in touch with international start-ups that have the potential to respond to their needs. The package includes 6 months’ accommodation and support at Station F, and is aimed at early-stage fintechs and insurtechs.

4.Investment and acquisition  

BNP Paribas invests in start-ups, either directly through full acquisitions or equity interests, or indirectly through third-party funds. Opera Tech Ventures, part of BNP Paribas Asset Management, is a venture capital fund whose mission is to support startups and entrepreneurs with the potential to transform the world of finance.

Our insurance subsidiary BNP Paribas Cardif, in partnership with Cathay Innovation, has created the C.Entrepreneurs investment fund, a structure that supports start-ups developing technologies or services that will help invent the insurance solutions of tomorrow.

Two examples of recent acquisitions: Kantox and GAMBiT

  1. Our collaboration with Kantox, the leading fintech in the automation of foreign exchange risk management, began with an initial strategic partnership forged in 2019. In 2022, this was further strengthened with the acquisition of Kantox, supported by the Global Markets business at CIB (Corporate and Institutional Banking) and our Commercial, Personal Banking and Services division. Kantox’s software solution for optimising and consolidating corporate foreign exchange flows is an API-driven solution that is unrivalled in the B2B cross-border payments industry.
  2. Now a wholly-owned subsidiary of BNP Paribas Asset Management, the fintech company GAMBiT Financial Solutions offers digital technology solutions for financial savings advice and allocation.  Gambit’s services while offering the client and his advisor a fluid and personalised digital journey.
Our various acceleration programmes are ideal breeding grounds for our investment vehicles. These acquisitions also demonstrate our ability to forge long-term partnerships with fintechs in order to offer our customers advanced technological solutions.

Innovation laboratories to detect trends 

To anticipate the trends that will impact the uses and needs of our customers, several of the Group’s business lines and entities have “laboratories” dedicated to monitoring, innovation and forecasting:

  • L’Atelier(Opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab) is an independent subsidiary of the BNP Paribas Group specialising in research and forecasting. Its mission is to discover, over the next ten years, new market challenges and opportunities, driven by digital and virtual innovations. 
  • Cardif Lab has been operating within the Group’s Insurance subsidiary since 2014. Its goal is to identify innovations developed in the 37 countries where BNP Paribas Cardif operates and to draw inspiration from them, seeking to anticipate insurance of the future and offer new products and services to policyholders.   
  •  CIB Lab, the laboratory in Paris, London and the Grands Moulins de Pantin (France) of the Corporate and Institutional Banking division.