Open innovation is quite simply when a company opens up its innovation process to explore new development areas and to generate new ideas in them in cooperation with external partners, such as start-ups, traditional universities and universities of applied sciences, trend and future-oriented institutions or other companies. This broadens horizons and focuses attention on ideas that were not on the company’s own radar. More knowledge is generated together than by going it alone. These three examples show how PostFinance uses open innovation.
Receptive to open innovation
As part of its Innovation Management, PostFinance is also embracing open innovation and thus opening up the innovation process to external partners. These examples show what lies behind this concept and how it is applied.
Example 1: Tilbago
The founders of the start-up Tilbago approached PostFinance with their business idea of supporting SMEs, municipalities, hospitals and power companies, etc., with a new solution for the automatic handling of debt collection proceedings. PostFinance recognized its potential. SmartBusiness, the accounts receivable management tool, which the financial institution provides for small companies, lacked this kind of function before. They went through the innovation process in the PFLab together and then rolled out the cloud solution in late autumn 2016 under the name of Tilbago. PostFinance also took a stake in the start-up company Tilbago.
To create an extremely bright future together, PostFinance is constantly looking for exciting start-ups operating in clearly defined areas.
Example 2: involvement of students
PostFinance is always receiving requests from universities and universities of applied sciences to report on its Innovation Management. The aim is to provide students with an insight into what goes on in practice. Listening is not always enough either – ideas and innovation projects from and for PostFinance are made tangible in workshops and courses in an initial stage to decide whether they could be of relevance. In this way, various issues – such as financial retirement planning – can be explored from a different angle. A win-win situation: the students get the chance to work on exciting projects, while PostFinance obtains fresh external input. New ideas are also conceived with external partners.
Example 3: “B4U”
PostFinance is obviously also targeting the field of blockchain technology, recently launching a pilot project called “B4U” (Blockchain for Utility). This is a solution that’s currently being developed and tested in cooperation with Energie Wasser Bern (ewb). “B4U” measures and bills solar power from private producers in a transparent, simple way using blockchain technology. The idea was conceived during an exchange between a PostFinance employee, who previously worked in the energy sector, and ewb. It was jointly driven forward at the PFLab, PostFinance’s innovation center. The example shows how open innovation can pay off – especially for two companies from very different sectors.