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Entrepreneurship & Startups Updated: 11 Oct 2019

What happens when large companies and startups collaborate

Bdeo, the winning startup for the fintech vertical at the South Summit competition, is proof positive that big companies and startups can successfully work together. Its remote claim verification solution is being used by BBVA Mexico’s insurance business, proving that efforts to find new value in the entrepreneurial ecosystem can translate into legitimate innovation for big businesses.

Collaborating with the startup ecosystem to ramp up the pace of innovative change has become something more than just a trend: in today’s world it is almost mandatory for anyone who wants to maintain relevancy in the digital age. This was reflected last week during the South Summit event, where a central theme focused on the key ingredients to successful collaborations between large corporations and startup businesses.

Bdeo is a clear example of what can be achieved from initiatives that bring startups and big businesses together: last year this company reached the finals of Open Talent Spain and this year it won the South Summit startup competition for the fintech vertical. BBVA Executive Chairman Carlos Torres Vila was on hand to present Bdeo with its award.

Bdeo exemplifies success for both Open Talent and South Summit because it was through its participation in these competitions that the startup was able to increase its visibility within the startup community in addition to identifying potential partners and even establishing collaborative alliances. After it was selected as a finalist in Open Talent last year, Bdeo qualified for BBVA’s Fast Track, a program designed to identify startup solutions that can be deployed throughout the bank's business units and across its geographical footprint. From its participation in this program, Bdeo made crucial contacts within BBVA Mexico's business. Using Bdeo's technology, they identified a potential solution to a business need, and during the past year, they jointly carried out a proof of concept. During this pilot, BBVA Mexico integrated Bdeo’s remote insurance claims verification technology with one of its auto insurance products.

BBVA Chairman, Carlos Torres Vila, and Bdeo's CEO, Julio Pernia Aznar, during South Summit's awards ceremony.

The Bdeo project is one of 11 where BBVA worked hand-in-hand with startups to develop solutions that were taken to market last year. The bank cultivated more than 270 relationships between entrepreneurs and its business units in the last year alone. Around 30 pilot projects resulted from these collaborations, all thanks to initiatives like Open Talent and Open Marketplace. Ultimately, these initiatives and the associated “startup gatherings” aim to foster alliances that will create solutions to meet customer needs.

"Perhaps the most important factor for a successful collaboration is that there is an actual business need that is matched with a corresponding solution," Julio Pérez Piña, head of BBVA Open Marketplace explained. Marketplace is the BBVA platform that serves as the central point of contact between BBVA Group and the startup community.

BBVA's strategy is further complemented by the direct support — both strategic and through pre-seed funding — that it provides companies through its startup incubator in London, which recently announced its first startup investment. During South Summit, Gustavo Vinacua, head of Venture Creation at BBVA, explained how the bank approaches the relationship with entrepreneurs and what it is these up-and-comers are looking for in a collaboration with such a big partner: "When you're looking for funding you have to consider more than just money; you have to look at who can offer you real support to help you get your project off the ground,” Vinacua stated.

BBVA’s Fast Track program is designed to identify startup solutions that can be deployed throughout the bank's business units and across its geographical footprint.

Accordingly, BBVA is always sounding out relationships with small companies, symbiotic relationships where the bank can help the company grow and the company can help the bank address recognized challenges in the industry. In fact, at the South Summit event BBVA even introduced an initiative focused on finding new potential collaborating partners. Together with South Summit they challenged startups to improve two areas of banking: digital customer on-boarding and digital services for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Collaborating with large companies too

South Summit shares the goal of optimizing meetings that might become collaborative projects or financing opportunities. Consequently, in addition to 6,500 startups, the organization also invited 1,100 investors who could sit in on dozens of company pitches, like the presentation made by Spain's Open Talent finalists, the winner of which was also announced during the event in Madrid.

In addition to emerging businesses, large established corporations also play an important role in the innovation ecosystem. This was evident during the event, which was attended by more than 6,000 large companies like BBVA, Endesa, and Renfe, among others. As Carlos López-Moctezuma, BBVA’s global head of Open APIs pointed out in his presentation at South Summit, increasingly, open innovation also involves direct collaboration with other large companies and organizations, including the Big Tech.

López-Moctezuma described the alliance BBVA Mexico formed with Uber in which the bank for the first time provides a banking product on a third-party platform, allowing it to deliver a new financial experience. Uber's driver and delivery partners and their families will receive the benefits of the new financial product, yet another example of BBVA Group’s digital transformation and its open platform strategy.