BMW Group UK has launched its Innovation Lab 2018, a programme for entrepreneurs and start-ups to work with the manufacturer.

This will be the second Innovation Lab, after the OEM ran its inaugural programme in 2016. Of those that entered the initial lab, four of the five ‘incubated’ start-ups built ongoing relationships with the company’s UK commercial operations.

The programme is aimed at companies with disruptive business models or new technologies that could benefit BMW customers. Businesses can enter any of four categories:

  • Seamless Customer Experience – how startup technology can add value to both the online and in-person retail process.
  • Enhancing Business Processes – automating existing operations.
  • Access versus Ownership – exploring new business models to give existing and new target customer groups greater access to mobility solutions.
  • RegTech Wildcard – new solutions focused around the affordability, compliance and regulatory environments.

The Lab will begin with a pitch day, from which a number of companies will be chosen. These will join a structured 10-week course of activities. In this time they will have access to mentorship from the BMW Group’s UK leadership team, a collaborative working environment at the company’s UK HQ, access to vehicles and other resources,  and a business education programme.

Running alongside this will be an ‘intrapreneur programme’ for BMW staff. This will provides a series of workshops and residential courses, at which initial ideas are developed with the help of academics, business mentors and BMW’s own leadership team. Eight successful teams will then be selected to embark on a 12-week structured mentoring programme to complete a comprehensive business plan describing how to turn their idea into commercial reality.

Mike Dennett, chief executive officer at BMW Group Financial Services (GB) Ltd, said: “The BMW Innovation Lab was designed to ensure it would have a real and long-lasting effect on our business. By working with the start-ups, it opened our minds to how we can be more agile, how we can be faster to market and how we can think just that little bit differently. Last year’s cohort is evidence of this. Four of the businesses have a continuing commercial engagement with BMW. That’s good for BMW but it is also a great opportunity for any start-up to secure your first enterprise-scale relationship.

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“For 2018 we wanted to improve the model further. Great ideas exist both outside and inside the organisation. The new intrapreneur stream added for 2018 captures the creativity inside BMW Group’s commercial subsidiaries in the UK and provides our employees with a programme to nurture it, helping us to better serve our customers today and tomorrow.”