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BMW Group UK announces chosen startups for Innovation Lab

The startups will now undertake a 10-week residency at the Lab to develop their applications, before pitching to senior BMW executives on 22 March 2018. Successful startups will then be able to secure ongoing relationships with the automotive firm’s UK commercial divisions.

The BMW Innovation Lab engages with technology start-ups to develop specific solutions around BMW Group UK’s three commercial divisions: BMW Group UK, BMW Financial Services UK and fleet manager Alphabet. It brings outside talent and technology into the business to create new solutions to future-proof operations or engage customers. The Lab is also designed to assist BMW Group UK in adopting a more flexible and disruptive culture.

Now in its second year, the inaugural Lab saw four out of five finalist start-ups on-boarded into BMW Group UK’s commercial divisions in 2017. The cohort included cloud-based loan servicing platform Divido, which is now being rolled out across BMW UK’s entire network of 150 retailers.

Building on last year’s success, 21 start-ups were shortlisted from a total of 142 applications from 36 countries including Singapore, Brazil and South Africa. Shortlisted firms then pitched to the BMW Innovation Lab panel, who chose the final five who would secure a place in the 2018 Lab. The five successful startups selected for the BMW Innovation Lab 2018 are:

  • – a location data platform that provides better engagement and marketing opportunities to their customers through geo-targeting
  • Ocasta – a digital service studio, creators of the Oplift product suite for employee engagement, learning and operations
  • Overfit Technologies – an employee retention and analytics platform which uses data mapping to help businesses make the most out of data
  • easyCar Club – peer-to-peer car and van hire service with more than 100,000 members, it allows vehicle owners to earn money from their car or van when they are not using it
  • DOVU – utilising blockchain technology, DOVU offers DOV tokens that users can earn and spend by sharing and changing the way they travel

Annina Koskiola, Co-founder and CEO of, said: “The potential to use data to create geo-targeted experiences which bridge the digital and physical worlds – from retail to construction, entertainment to education – are endless. We are excited to explore some of these applications with BMW for its 2018 Innovation Lab. Working symbiotically with a large, global business is the dream for startups such as ourselves. It offers us unparalleled insight into how they operate, what pain points need to be solved and how we can develop truly innovative solutions together.”

The BMW Innovation Lab is run in partnership with L Marks, a corporate innovation specialist and investment fund, which will also provide mentoring and fundraising support for the startups. Stuart Marks, Chairman of L Marks, said: “The breadth and quality of applications received from around the world for this iteration of the BMW Innovation Lab has made selecting just five quite tough. However, each of the final startups offers something unique and innovative to the automotive industry. The next 10 weeks will see them embark on an exciting journey to bring their ideas to life, and see them benefit enormously from their time in the Lab.”

The selected startups will now be mentored by BMW Group’s UK leadership team in a collaborative working environment at the company’s UK HQ. They will be provided with business education programmes, links to industry experts, and access to investors alongside fundraising support.

Mike Dennett, CEO at BMW Group Financial Services (GB) Ltd., and one of the architects of the BMW Innovation Lab, said: “The auto industry will see more change in the next 20 years than it has seen in the past century. We need to act now and go beyond the vehicle to ensure we deliver the best services for customers now and in the future. We’re excited about the possibilities new technologies offer; from geo-targeting data platforms to vehicle-sharing applications. The Lab is an opportunity for us to engage with startups and incorporate their proprietary technology into our own business, allowing us to cater for customer needs today, while ensuring services are future-proofed for the customer of tomorrow.”

Dennett added: “There is also a secondary goal the Innovation Lab creates for us: building agility into our own organisation. Innovation is just as much about the process as it is the end result, and we have a lot to learn from start-ups’ way of thinking and working. The inaugural Lab in 2016 went a long way to adapting our mindset and improving our operations. We hope that through collaboration, the Innovation Lab will continue to leave a legacy of entrepreneurial thinking across our business.”