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BMW Group launches UK Innovation Lab 2018

Second BMW Innovation Lab expanded to develop external startups and staff creativity

BMW Group UK has announced the launch of the BMW Innovation Lab 2018. The new programme builds upon the success of the inaugural Lab in 2016, which saw four out of five incubated startups succeed in building ongoing relationships with the company’s UK commercial operations.

The BMW Innovation Lab 2018 will also see the company add a new intrapreneur programme to inspire, shape and realise innovative ideas from the 1,300-strong workforce operating across the BMW Group’s three commercial divisions in the UK – BMW (UK) Ltd, BMW Group Financial Services (GB) Ltd, and business mobility solutions provider, Alphabet (GB) Ltd. The intrapreneur programme will help staff contribute ideas to help deliver new and improved services to customers.

The BMW Innovation Lab entrepreneur programme provides an opportunity for early-stage start-up companies to partner with BMW Group’s UK commercial divisions. The programme is aimed at companies with disruptive business models or new technologies that could benefit BMW customers. Businesses can enter any of four categories:

• Seamless Customer Experience – how startup technology can add value to both the online and in-person retail process.
• Enhancing Business Processes – automating existing operations.
• Access versus Ownership – exploring new business models to give existing and new target customer groups greater access to mobility solutions.
• RegTech Wildcard – new solutions focused around the affordability, compliance and regulatory environments.

Run in partnership with L Marks, a corporate innovation specialist and investment fund, the entrepreneur programme will see successful startups selected to join a structured 10-week course of activities. Participants will have access to mentorship from the BMW Group’s UK leadership team, a collaborative working environment at the company’s UK HQ, access to vehicles and other resources, a business education programme with links to a network of industry experts, and access to investors and fundraising support from L Marks.

Working with TIL Ventures, a specialist at building a culture of corporate innovation, the intrapreneur programme provides a series of workshops and residential courses, at which initial ideas are developed with the help of academics, business mentors and BMW’s own leadership team. Eight successful teams will then be selected to embark on a 12-week structured mentoring programme to complete a comprehensive business plan describing how to turn their idea into commercial reality.

While each programme is specific to the challenges of either entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs, both groups will be able to share a common work environment at BMW Group’s office campus in Farnborough and wherever beneficial, all participants will be encouraged to collaborate in problem solving and in sharing their experiences.

Mike Dennett, CEO at BMW Group Financial Services (GB) Ltd, said: “The BMW Innovation Lab was designed to ensure it would have a real and long-lasting effect on our business. By working with the start-ups, it opened our minds to how we can be more agile, how we can be faster to market and how we can think just that little bit differently. Last year’s cohort is evidence of this. Four of the businesses have a continuing commercial engagement with BMW. That’s good for BMW but it is also a great opportunity for any start-up to secure your first enterprise-scale relationship.

“For 2018 we wanted to improve the model further. Great ideas exist both outside and inside the organisation. The new intrapreneur stream added for 2018 captures the creativity inside BMW Group’s commercial subsidiaries in the UK and provides our employees with a programme to nurture it, helping us to better serve our customers today and tomorrow.”

Stuart Marks, Chairman of L Marks, said: “The BMW Innovation Lab in 2016 was a great example of the tremendous growth and scale a business such as BMW can give to start-up businesses, and of the exciting new solutions the start-ups can offer in turn. The successes from last year demonstrated the immense value for all parties. We are very excited to again be partnering in running the programme this year on a larger scale and involving the wider BMW business.”

Milan Samani, founding partner of TIL Ventures, said: “It is fantastic to be asked to join such a successful Lab. Building a new programme for intrapreneurs, using our proven TIL methodology, will activate, capture and deliver the innovative ideas which exist inside BMW. We are also really excited to explore the impact of running the two streams in parallel. Seeing intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs operating in close proximity should benefit all participants.”

Applications from external entrepreneurs, startups and early stage growth businesses to participate in the BMW Innovation Lab 2018 must be submitted through the website by 16 October 2017.