Dutch bank ING is inviting early stage Fintech startups to join their innovation studio program. With this corporate accelerator program startups get access to ING mentors and experts, workshops and training, in return for giving ING a small stake in their company.
Anyone following the startup scene knows that technology is disrupting traditional financial institutions. This creates opportunities for new startups and initiatives that support these startups, such as Startupbootcamp Fintech and Holland Fintech. For traditional institutions like ING this means that they have to adjust rapidly to changing circumstances. Like other corporates have done before, ING is willing to learn from external parties through open innovation. They announced today that they are searching for external startups to join their corporate accelerator program, called innovation studio.
ING ‘s announcement to collaborate with and invest in startups follows other companies. Companies such as Eneco, Sanoma and KPN have started similar initiatives before, with mixed results. TMG just announced that they are closing down their program. These past experiences show that the quality of the program is important: accelerator programs only add value if they can truly accelerate the startups that commit to the program. So how is ING doing?
- The studio is based on modern principles: ING does not acquire companies but offers access to mentors and support, while making a small investment of up to € 50.000,-. The program is open to any financial technology startup, as long as they are willing to come to The Netherlands for six months. The investment is made through convertible notes: a modern way of financing made popular by Leapfunder. In order to accelerate, ING explicitly mentions the use of the Lean startup method.
- The proposed collaboration agreement that startups need to agree on has been made public. The agreement itself is not very lean (8 pages of legalese) but the fact that this document is open for inspection is helpful for startups considering to apply. All in all the program seems to be well thought out. (full disclosure note: StartupJuncture was consulted and asked the review the studio concept beforehand).
- ING has already built up some acceleration experience: The website mentions two startups already housed in the studio: new payment method Payconiq and restaurant payment solution tabster. Payconiq is an ING initiative and tabster an independent startup. The innovation studio is thus already active. The program was flying under the radar until yesterday but is now officially made public.
- ING says it is working on a network of mentors, but has not announced who these mentors are, besides the core team of three mentors.
For a traditional bank like ING, the step to be more approachable for startups is an important step in the right direction, and the program seems to offer value, especially for early stage startups that would like to get in touch with ING.
The target group for the innovation studio is early stage startups. “We see a strong opportunity for teams in our program to integrate within ING or continue with other accelerator programs such as Rockstart or SBC.” says innovation driver Willem Schellekens. The innovation studio would thus function as a growth step early in the process, before accelerators such as Rockstart and Startupbootcamp.
All information about the program is published at the official page with the promising URL www.innovationstudio.ninja. Applications are open until August 14.
Image provided by ING Innovation Studio