Open Innovation Forum recap: From success stories to Asia’s future

Our first-ever Open Innovation Forum took place on 24 April, welcoming large corporates, startups and thought leaders from the world of open innovation.


A whirlwind matchmaking session between a handful of startups and large corporates kicked things off, pairing the parties together depending on their expertise or solutions proposed. With pitches made, business cards exchanged and connections forged, the remaining guests joined us at Hysan Place for the afternoon’s conference.

Hearing from companies who’ve made the leap into open innovation already, we presented the many avenues for undertaking open innovation in an ever-changing business environment.

Thanks to all those who came out to hear from leaders pushing the boundaries of innovation in Asia. A special thanks to our partners for the event Agorize Asia, our valuable sponsor DBS Bank, as well as KMPG and Pernod Ricard for their support.

Check out the full photo highlights from the day and our rundown of the key takeaways below:

Accelerator model

Matthew NG, DBS Bank, Senior Vice President Strategic Planning & Transformation, Technology & Operations

- DBS using an accelerator model

- Transformed a 5,000 sq ft space in Wan Chai into a workspace dedicated to FinTech startups

- Providing business support and accelerator programs for startups.

- It’s about creating the right business environment to encourage innovation and collaboration with startups

- Improvements made to 2017 accelerator program: Maximising DBS’s window of opportunity, Optimising the probability of successful engagement through an enhanced vetting process, Problem Statement Driven which engages DBS business units

Corporate and start-up collaboration

Brandon CHUNG, SuperCharger, Program Manager
Bianca HO, Clare.AI, Co-founder and COO
Philip POON, Fidelity International, Project Lead

- Thanks to the Fintech accelerator SuperCharger, Bianca and Philip were put in contact to work together.

- is a young startup that help companies to engage with their customers through digital assistance

- According to Philip (Fidelity, investment): start-ups should:

  • Specialize in one particular industry. Companies work in different industries and start-ups need to understand the challenge, enhance, help and cooperate
  • Philip’s final word: Adapt

- According to Bianca (Clare.Ai):

  • Companies need to be fully dedicated to their goal. Big companies need to identify the business problem and make sure the project goes through, don’t diverge between multiple projects.
  • Bianca’s final word: Focus

Brandon’s (SuperCharger) final word: Listen

Open Innovation Challenges

Elsa LEE-REID, BNP Paribas Cardif, Regional Head of Business Execution Management

- BNP organises one-off events to find new startups

- Through an online platform, stat-ups can apply and put forward their business ideas. Then every local/regional bureau of BNP can have a look at the different startups and choose which one they would like to eventually work with.

- Startups need to understand the company’s needs, correctly understand the insurance industry and make highly tailored proposals.

- BNP never meets the startups face-to-face, everything is done through the platform

Corporate and University Collaboration

Stephane DUGUET, Thales Group, Head of Research and Technology
Dr Simon W.L. LAW, Ph.D., HKUST, Acting Director, Technology Transfer Center

- Thales works closely with more than 50 universities to enhance open Innovation

- They have more than 20 joint research labs such as HKUST, partnering and collaborating together while organising specialised research programs.

- Beneficial for companies:

  • Good way for companies to find motivated and hardworking students
  • Don’t pay for the labs, funded by the state and universities
  • Students bring many new innovative ideas

- Beneficial for students:

  • Offers employment opportunities

Beneficial for universities:

  • Industry players bring their expertise while universities can get recognition for new ideas

Exploring Open Innovation possibilities

Mathieu TOULEMONDE, CEO, Agorize Asia

- Agorize: organises events / challenges for startups, students and companies

- Different type of open innovation:

  • One-off events: BNP Paribas Cardif.
  • Partnerships: Fidelity with Clare.Ai
  • Business supports: Incubation, accelerator programs (DBS)
  • Investment: corporate venture capitalist (500startups)
  • Acquisitions: (SAP)
  • Intrapreneurship: encouraging entrepreneurial behavior within the company (LVMH, Engie, La Poste)

Four core objectives of open innovation:

  1. Culture: change management
  2. Trend watching: out-of-the-box solutions
  3. Generating business growth: ready to be implemented solutions à Main concern in China / Asia (today)
  4. External communication: Branding and recruitment à Main concern in Europe (today)

Next Gen Program: how to link Open Innovation and sustainable development

Anita VARSHNEY, SAP, Global Strategy & Transformation Lead

- Goal is to create a network with customers, academics, partners, institutions, governments, citizens in order to drive “innovation with purpose”

- A strong commitment to the 17 UN Global Goals that they’re also noticing amongst their clients

- Incremental change will not manifest this new world by 2030. Such a shift requires deep, systematic change.

You have to know and understand the local community in order to work properly with them

Her word: Passion

How to manage an Innovation Department

Marine BORIS, DECATHLON, Innovation Leader

- Innovation at the core of Decathlon as a global integrated sports goods company

- In your Innovation team, you need a very varied team – like a small startup operating within a large company

- Managers need to take the risk to invest in technology; while knowing that sometimes projects fail

- Corporates need to get closer to start-ups

Asia’s future

Bonnie CHEUNG, 500startups, Partner
Dr Toa CHARM, Cyberport, Chef Public Mission Officer
Jan SMEJKAL, Startup Grind, China & APAC Community Director
Marco PELLEREY, The Hive Worldwide, Strategy Advisor to CEO

Moderator: Gram MILOSEVIC, Whub, CTO

- Cyberport helps startups and corporate work together

- Hardest part for startups: they need TIME from corporations. Time is the most valuable thing

- Mindset should be set on a long term process

- Need the right people

- Keywords from the panelists:

  • Bonnie Cheung: Borderless
  • Dr Toa Charm: Disruptive + Collaborative
  • Jan Smejkal: Contribution
  • Marc Pellerey: Great
  • Gram Milosevic: Community

Useful links

Recap from Made in Asia 2018: Transparency is in!