Successful kick-off of the innovation initiative “Weitblick” (Engl.: vision/foresight) at HYPO NOE Landesbank, a regional bank in Austria

Author: Elisabeth Gumpenberger

On April 28, 2015, the kick-off event of the innovation initiative “Weitblick” allowed for openness and inspiration with regards to future developments and new perspectives. During the course of this initiative (which runs until autumn 2015), the HYPO NOE Landesbank will work on future fields of action and innovation fields for their business. This project has been conceptualized and professionally facilitated by winnovation.

During the kick-off, Gertraud Leimüller, as well as two other carefully selected experts, Martin Hollinetz and André M. Bajorat, shared their thoughts on innovation in society, as well as on innovation in banking, with an interested audience

Martin Hollinetz founded the first OTELO (a network of open technology laboratories) in Austria in 2010. Since then, the network has grown to a number of 14 labs in Austria and Germany. Martin Hollinetz explained that each OTELO provides for a physical space for innovation without shaping the direction that the respective innovation should take. Citizens can work on their ideas, both individually as well as collectively. The process, as such, is fully open-ended. The OTELO idea illustrates that such enabling spaces (as opposed to mere top-down innovation processes) allow people to fully unleash their potential. He recommends that banks reconsider the role they want to play in society and that regional banks establish themselves as partners for a regional culture of innovation.

Gertraud Leimüller forged a wide bridge across innovation in the financial industry. She illustrated that up until now in the banking industry, hardly any radical, bigger innovation leaps have taken place. Successful, young fin-techs – companies that use modern technologies to provide financial services – mainly succeed by applying new means to an already well-known cause. However, the pressing question for the future of the sector will be what kinds of services to offer in order to comprehensively satisfy user needs, whilst simultaneously generating value. In order to showcase future viability and allow for radical innovations, it is necessary to innovate new business models.

André M. Bajorat, consultant, business angel, mentor and entrepreneur in the German start-up and fin-tech scene, elaborated on why fin-techs are currently very successful. Among other factors, he believes that their success stems from a fast and innovative way of working, a policy of trial and error (including the courage to make mistakes!) and a sound orientation towards market and user needs. For a bank, he recommends to build up an identity as a platform and service provider. He believes that only by doing so, banks can successfully face powerful competitors in the start-up world, as well as global players such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon.