Business Technology

BMW Innovation Lab to foster and fund UK startups in exchange for energetic ideas

4 min read

18 July 2016

Former deputy editor

Recognising the creativity of growing British businesses, BMW has launched an Innovation Lab to join forces with startups in a mutually beneficial campaign that will deliver mentoring and investment access in exchange for ideas to accelerate its business.

The retail and commercial finance arm of the business, BMW Group Financial Services, is responsible for the Innovation Lab. The division specialises in facilitating sales with BMW UK on new and used vehicles from the BMW and Mini brands, and boasts 500,000 customers nationwide.

The Lab will be headquartered in Farnborough, Hampshire, and BMW is seeking applications from early-stage businesses across five categories in order to add more creativity to the car finance market, increasing growth in the process.

Any tech developed with selected startups during the ten-week programme will all be geared to improving the user experience for customers.

The categories BMW is seeking startups for are:

(1) Access to cars: To transform how the business can utilise existing fleets to enhance ownership, usage and customer retention.

(2) Data driven decisions: To provide transparency, data visualisations and decision-making for customers and suppliers.

(3) Used cars: To explore ways of opening up BMW’s used car opportunities and attract a younger market.

(4) Digitising the customer journey: To introduce a streamlined and intuitive online journeys.

(5) Fintech wildcard: For technologists and entrepreneurs out to transform automotive finance and insurance opportunities.

“The Innovation Lab provides a great opportunity for us to get a different perspective on our business and generate new ideas more quickly,” said Mike Dennett, CEO, BMW Group Financial Services, UK.

“It is a very different approach and one which will allow us to explore customer-focused initiatives from young, energetic and talented small companies while at the same time offering them the chance to gain exposure to a range of experienced mentors and potential investors.”

Read more on innovation taking place in the car sector:

The Lab will be run with innovation specialist L Marks, which works with the likes of John Lewis on similar campaigns. The retailer’s current crop of innovators enlisted for its JLAB accelerator were revealed at the end of June.

“Innovation Lab is an unprecedented opportunity for promising start-ups to get access to a leading provider of automotive finance and insurance products and solutions, BMW Group Financial Services in the UK,” said Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and chairman of L Marks.

Expecting that new ideas and methods of working will be presented to BMW, Marks feels that a real impact will be made through the Lab. In addition to access to mentors and investors, participants will also have free office space at the Hampshire HQ and detailed product testing opportunities.

Marks added: “I believe that this kind of intense engagement with the company over a 10-week period will enable start-ups to build a deep and meaningful relationship with the brand and develop their products and services in a unique environment.”

Tailing motoring giant BMW’s race into the UK’s sharing economy.