“As bankers we must firmly embrace innovation and entrepreneurship”
By Max Jadot, CEO of BNP Paribas Fortis
The world is changing as never before. Innovation is to be found everywhere. It appears that everything can be smarter, simpler and better. And innovation is a strategic priority at BNP Paribas Fortis as well.
“BNP Paribas Fortis is determined to be right at the centre of the changing world. We want to be a catalyst for innovation and help to bring our clients’ ideas to fruition. And we do this in a variety of ways,” says BNP Paribas Fortis CEO Max Jadot, explaining: “We are for example a partner in the Brussels accelerator Co.Station, we provide tailored services to startups and growing companies through Innovation Hubs and starter coaches and we’ve also gone into partnership with crowdfunding platform MyMicroInvest.”
Co.Station, an accelerator for startups and scaleups – i.e. startups that have already developed a working prototype – is located in the centre of Brussels. Late last year, BNP Paribas Fortis teamed up with SocialCom to give new impetus to this Brussels-based business accelerator.
“The Co.Station BXL space is now bustling with activity and innovative talent. In the space of one year, Co.Station BXL has put itself on the map and is regarded in the startup community as a reliable partner with a lot of useful knowledge to impart. In this way the accelerator is supporting innovation and giving a boost to entrepreneurship in Belgium,” underlines CEO Max Jadot.
In a surface area of some 3,000 m², Co.Station BXL basically combines three activities: a co-working space called Co.Station village; the Co.Station Virtuology training centre; and the Co.Station Accelerator, an intensive programme designed for scaleups that are moving towards international expansion.
Innovation Hubs & starter coaches
“BNP Paribas Fortis is determined to partner not only with the companies of today but also with the companies of tomorrow. To meet their needs more effectively, we’ve taken steps to provide young, innovative business starters and companies with coaches and Innovation Hubs,” says Max Jadot.
Spread across its entire branch network, BNP Paribas Fortis has a team of 150 starter coaches who specialise in issues facing fledgling firms. To meet the needs of innovation-oriented companies which have already gone a little further in their development, BNP Paribas Fortis set up in November 2014 the Innovation Hubs, where young innovative enterprises can find appropriate services. At the Innovation Hubs, which are located throughout the country, you can find experts who are specially trained to assist start-ups and scale-ups. These companies usually have a different dynamic and different needs than firms from the more traditional sectors.
“This initiative is really taking off. We advise these young companies about growth strategies and expanding abroad. It’s a fact that these young firms go international very quickly,” points out the BNP Paribas Fortis CEO, explaining: “So it’s important that we enable them to make optimal use of our wide international network. For instance, our Bank of The West subsidiary has very good contacts in Silicon Valley and L’Atelier, our support platform for innovation-oriented companies, has premises in Paris, San Francisco and Shanghai.”
Not every business founder has sufficient personal resources to enable him/her to obtain a bank loan. To assist with the search for funds, BNP Paribas Fortis struck a partnership late last year with Belgium’s leading crowdfunding platform MyMicroInvest, thus providing one possible way to strengthen startups’ capital base.
“This complements our traditional business of taking in deposits and distributing these funds in the form of loans. The financial transformation role remains our central task, but we do need to be open to new ideas that can help achieve part of tomorrow’s economic growth,” stresses Max Jadot, adding: “BNP Paribas Fortis intends to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship because they are after all the main ingredients of our future.”