As the need to innovate becomes more pressing, banks have become increasingly collaborative. This new era of cooperation sees lenders striking up new partnerships with the full range of market participants including clients, fintechs and employees – to pursue their digitisation and innovation agendas.

Danielle Myles, investment banking editor of The Banker, speaks with Fabien Fédy, Business Designer, The Box to discuss Nordea’s intrapreneur programme.

The Banker Viewpoint Series is sponsored by Nordea but independently edited.

While Nordea places emphasis on seeking innovation externally, it hasn’t ignored the talent that resides within the bank itself. An ‘intrapreneur’ programme, called Nordea Runway, has been launched which enables employees to develop business ideas. The best three are given three months to develop their proposals.

Helping companies take off

Among the winners is Fabien Fédy, the business designer behind The Box – ‘a one-stop shop’ for entrepreneurs seeking to launch a business. The product draws on Fédy’s personal experience; ten years ago, he opened a restaurant in Helsinki and experienced the struggles of a first-time entrepreneur.

“I needed to figure out a lot of new things, I needed to understand how insurance worked, how banking worked and how to register the company and so forth,” he says. “And it was such a pain and it took me ages to really understand what it was all about.”

A decade on, entrepreneurs live in a world where “everything is connected” through API integration, however their experience of starting a business is still very poor, says Fédy. “It is still exactly the same as it was ten years ago and I realised that we needed to improve the customer experience of starting a business and make it as easy as ordering a book on Amazon.”

Fédy’s goal was to enable people to “create a business in one click”, registering the company, onboarding partners and running the business. “I would love to see a future where running your business is like being on a ride in a self-driving car.” The Box is designed to introduce new services such as banking, insurance and pensions easily, helping new entrepreneurs to manage all of these services on one platform.

As soon as Fédy won the Nordea Runway programme, he was placed in an external incubator, together with a design agency to crease the new service. “It was very valuable to partner with an external agency and it helped to really open my mind by working with forward-thinking experts, strategy designers, and so on. It really helped me to open my thinking and look at the different opportunities for this specific service,” he says.

While Fédy says The Box could have been developed as part of his role as a business designer, being part of the Runway programme meant he could focus on it exclusively for three months.

“Being able to do this is quite difficult in large organisations such as Nordea. And being external to the bank means I have gained a different perspective and my thinking has been opened up,” he says.

“Sometimes a large organisation focuses solely on how to spot the best ideas and then how to design the perfect incubation programme to come up with a better idea or a great concept to be implemented,” he adds.

“But in my opinion, what matters is the execution of the project – what happens after the concept is developed. And for that you need to design not only the incubation programme, but the follow-up programme.”


This story and accompanying videos originally appeared in The Banker.

For more information on co-innovation at Nordea write to txbmarketengagement@nordea.com.

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