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BMW Group: Innovation Lab

on the Road

On 24th August 2020, BMW Innovation Lab opened its doors once again to welcome a new cohort of startups. In a departure from the two previous programmes, which took place at BMW Financial Services’ UK headquarters, this year’s startups are based in a virtual Lab. Driven online by the global Covid-19 pandemic, the Lab differs from previous ones in another way. As an L Marks Relay programme, it is split into two ten-week sprints, with each geared towards a distinct challenge.

the journey so far

L Marks partnered with BMW Financial Services’ UK business for the first time in 2016. The Lab was developed to attract young companies with the talent, ideas and disruptive technologies necessary to speed up development of new finance products and cut the time it takes to bring them to market. From providing customers with entirely new types of leases to dismantling the barriers that young drivers face, the original cohort produced a range of innovations with the potential to revolutionise the ways in which customers own and insure cars.

Following the success of the 2016 Lab, BMW expanded the scope of the UK programme for 2017 and rolled out programmes across the global business. In 2018, the inaugural BMW Financial Services Japan Innovation Lab was held in Tokyo, while the first Collaboration Lab – the BMW Group Financial Services, Region Americas innovation programme – took place in Columbus, Ohio.


The Innovation Lab has become a cornerstone of innovation within BMW Group. With developments in technology, product offering and service design, customers are expecting more from car financing providers. Setting the pace for across the industry, BMW is fostering unified, customer-led, internal transformation, leading in automotive mobility data insights and analytics, and embracing the next curve of individual premium mobility.



BMW Group Labs in numbers





Wrisk is a smartphone app that collects home, motor and travel insurance in one place and gives real time control over cover. Buying cover is simple: answer six questions to generate a quote. You then receive a Wrisk Score which helps you understand the figure you’ve been quoted. As your circumstances change, so does your Wrisk Score. For example, you’re going on holiday and plan to leave your bike in the shed instead of locking it up outside work. The risk of theft is lower – your cover goes down. By championing simplicity, transparency and flexibility – qualities not usually attributed to insurers – Wrisk speaks to a worn-out customer base as well as the mobile generation.


Wrisk worked with BMW’s compliance, telematics, intelligence and credit scoring teams in order to understand BMW’s existing insurance offering and explore how their technology could benefit both customers and BMW. They created a proof-of-concept for BMW to demonstrate how they could revolutionise the way people view insurance packages and improve accuracy of premiums and quotes.


BMW identified that Wrisk’s refreshing and innovative approach to motor insurance could help boost their insurance services and entered into a commercial agreement, making Wrisk the sole insurance provider distributed by BMW/MINI in the UK. In December 2019, Wrisk launched a new product with BMW Group Financial Services called “MINI Flex Car Insurance”. Wrisk is continuously building its book of household name partners, expanding to now include RAC and insurance partners Munich RE, Allianz and LV=. Wrisk is now authorised by the FCA to sell insurance, has designed a world-class platform capable of supporting multiple personal lines of insurance.



Tokyo-based ConciergeU allows businesses of all sizes to create high-value chatbots with minimal complexity. They have released a high-performing, omni-channel platform with NLP/AI-powered framework for Facebook Messenger, LINE and other websites. Developing solid client bases, ConciergeU’s 24/7 functioning, intelligent, self-improving chatbot automates customer interactions and enables one-to-one-marketing for businesses.


During the programme, ConciergeU worked with various departments within BMW Japan to gather the most frequent questions and patterns of questions that BMW receives from dealers, building a dealer support knowledge base. Using this insight, ConciergeU developed a self-improving FAQ chatbot to automate interaction with dealers at DFE (Dealers Front End) portal. Through various iterations of the platform during the lab, ConciergeU were able to complete system feasibility check and integrate chatbot into the BMW’s test environment.


Following the programme, BMW continued the pilot and tested the viability of the platform on their estate. Following the successful implementation, ConciergeU and BMW finalised the commercial relationship and launched the platform in July 2020 on the DFE portal where dealers are now able to ask questions 24/7 and receive immediate support and guidance.



Drover’s mobility platform is powered by an online marketplace that bridges the gap between short-term car rental companies and long-term lease providers, giving customers flexible access to cars. Its technology platform provides a ‘one stop shop’ for drivers and vehicle suppliers alike. Drover offer a state-of-the-art bookings platform combined with a free fleet management tool for suppliers. This includes sophisticated telematics integration, predictive maintenance, PCN management, electronic driver onboarding and background checking, a payments and invoicing engine and a comprehensive insurance offer as part of every booking. They announced securing their investment round of £20.5 million in July 2020.


Drover developed a solution for BMW that delivered flexible access to BMW and MINI cars through their platform, allowing the BMW Group to reach a new and younger customer segment who are not interested in ownership. Drover’s platform was also leveraged to allow test drives for corporate client accounts and customers on existing finance contracts.


BMW Group and Drover now have a partnership offering access to BMW and Mini vehicles on a flexible, monthly all-inclusive subscription basis. Drover rolls the entire cost of car ownership into one monthly price, including the cost of the car, insurance, maintenance, servicing, taxes and breakdown-cover. Cars on offer include, the Mini Cooper 3-Door Hatch, BMW 116d Sport and rise through the 2 Series Coupé and X1 up to 4 Series Coupé and 5 Series Saloon and Touring models. BMW continues to work closely with Drover, currently running a further pilot involving 150 cars and are preparing to expand its use into other areas of the business.



CarLabs created a cognitive, conversational AI-powered platform for automating and enhancing sales and marketing in the automotive vertical. The solution offers lease customers a dramatically simplified experience that significantly decreases support call volumes and increases customer satisfaction rates.


Through its work with BMW at its Region Americas headquarters in Columbus Ohio, CarLabs delivered three complete iterations of their Digital Agent. BMW trialled these and gave feedback as to the adjustments needed, such as ensuring that the Digital Agent had a tone of language that was on brand with wider BMW communications. They tested the hypothesis that the chatbot would increase customer satisfaction and lower the volume of calls and emails received by customer support staff.


Following the programme, CarLabs entered into a formalised vendor agreement with BMW. BMW has since implemented automated “digital assistants” across its call center, powered by CarLabs. This first phase of the partnership delivered automated customer service in the payment area. The digital assistant, or chatbot, is being used to answer customer questions, which has delivered cost-savings for BMW whilst providing enhanced insight into customer behavior and trends. As a result of success from the first phase, BMW is preparing to scale the solution across the organisation.



Divido is a cloud-based credit origination frontend and loan servicing backend that caters to lenders, retailers, and their customers. It enables customers to make additional purchases and pay overtime. The platform works in store, online, and by phone, and supports all types of finance such as 0% APR, low-cost credit, revolving credit, etc. It is also available in multiple languages and currencies working across multiple markets.


Having never worked in the automotive space until this point, Divido launched a proof-of-concept pilot with three BMW dealerships during the programme, providing six months 0% finance in association with BMW for after-sales servicing and repair work. This allowed BMW owners to pay for their servicing and repair work by installments and help manage the cost of their ongoing motoring expenditure.


Following the programme, BMW and Divido rolled out after-sales financing to over 60 retailers in the UK. Divido’s technology provides a simple, transparent and secure way for customers to pay for after-sales repairs or services, in minutes, completely paperless. BMW retailers can now benefit from reduced friction when it comes to customers paying their bill in-store, online or via their mobile. In a significant development for customers, they now have the flexibility to pay conveniently, at a time suitable to them, by spreading payments into monthly installments for up to 12 months, whilst the BMW retailer is paid in full, right away.



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