Open innovation: what is it exactly? It is an approach to innovation according to which companies are also based on ideas, resources and technological skills coming from the outside, in particular from startups, universities, research institutions, suppliers and consultants. But what about in practice?
Let’s find out what open innovation really means, looking at this process from the point of view of startups, often involved by the Corporate itself to bring new ideas, technologies, services. During the Data Driven Competition organized with Cerved, we got to know about the experience of Cardo and SpazioDati. The first is the story of a collaboration that has just begun, while the second one has lasted now for over 5 years.
Let’s start with Cardo, a technological suite allowing institutional investors to have access to all available opportunities for investment in alternative finance, at present with a particular focus on invoice trading. We talked about open innovation with CEO Altin Kadareja.
Altin, how did you start collaborating with Cerved?
The collaboration started thanks to the participation and victory of the “Data Driven Competition” contest. During the 3 months of development, we used the API made available to us by the creation of the first model of machine learning able to predict the number of days of late payment of every single bill visible on the marketplace.
Have you had difficulty working with a corporate in terms of open innovation?
We have not had any particular difficulties. Cerved proved itself very attentive to innovation. Every week, during the Data Driven Competition we made alignment calls with a team exclusively dedicated to us for solving any problems and doubts regarding the use of their API. We are very satisfied with the service that has been offered to us.
What advantages is it giving you and will it give you an open innovation experience?
Having access to the Cerved databases has certainly been a huge advantage. This information, appropriately re-elaborated and integrated into our systems, is used to develop our credit scoring models and test our portfolio optimization algorithms.
What are your goals for this collaboration with Cerved?
We have created the first statistical model providing a delay in the number of payment days for invoices. In the future, we want to expand the offer by inserting other algorithms which at present are being developed such as those dealing with the risk of fraud. We aim to include other asset classes within the Cardo (P2P Lending and real estate crowdfunding) and then we will use the data provided by Cerved to create specific risk models for this type of product. We would also like to integrate the two Cardo and Cerved platforms to offer maximum transparency and maximum data granularity to our investor.
Now, let’s find out how the collaboration between Cerved and SpazioDati proceeds. SpazioDati is a startup that operates in the big data and semantic field. We talked about open innovation with CEO Michele Barbera.
How did your collaboration with Cerved start and what does it consist in?
It started in 2013 when SpazioDati was just over a year old. Cerved was one of our first corporate clients in Italy. At that time we were mainly dealing with natural language analysis and generalist semantic engines, we were not yet specialized in the company world and business information. At first, Cerved commissioned us a Proof of Concept and then a real product that is still used today to improve its internal processes. The relationship became more structured and Cerved invested in the capital of SpazioDati.
What were the greatest difficulties of “adaptation” in working with a corporate? How have you faced and overcome them?
Initially, SpazioDati was for Cerved only a provider of technology for Cerved and know-how in the Big Data and artificial intelligence sectors, subsequently, the relationship evolved and the Cerved sales network began to distribute our products. The impact with a wide and articulated B2B sales networks like that of Cerved and the ways in which it interacts with customers required a rapid and radical adaptation of the processes of SpazioDati as we were a startup used to working almost exclusively online. It was a period of strong growth of for the team as well as continuous changes of the organization to be able to respond to the needs of Cerved and its many customers. At the same time, we have tried to preserve the nature of SpazioDati, our creative capacity and innovation. We managed to grow without losing the startup spirit.
What advantages is this experience bringing you?
The B2B sector is very complicated for a startup. If you sell complex products that generate significant changes in the customer’s internal processes, the sales phases are very long and elaborate. It is difficult for a startup to face them alone. The partnership with Cerved has allowed us to overcome many barriers and has greatly accelerated our growth. Cerved’s first investment in SpazioDati has brought not only capital for growth and commercial relationships with its customers, but also an enormous amount of valuable data regarding the entire Italian business ecosystem. It would have been impossible to find them elsewhere.
3 practical tips for a startup (fintech) that wants to collaborate with a corporate…
- Identify the “champions”: people within the Corporate who know the mechanisms and who can help the startup move within the complex gears of a large company. Each phase of the relationship needs its champions belonging to different divisions and having different skills and roles in the company.
- Have strength, obstinacy and flexibility. The first two to keep its vision even when you are in front of seemingly insurmountable walls, the third to know how to adapt to the needs of the large company.
- Know how to involve the whole team in embracing change, without ever losing your enthusiasm.
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