Posted at 4:35 PM
It’s rare that you get to see innovation happen before your eyes, but that’s exactly what happened at last Thursday’s Open for Innovation (O4I) Event in New York City. O4I is a series designed to encourage partnerships between America's dynamic startups and well-established firms.
To kick off one-on-one meetings between startups and established firms, Secretary Pritzker discussed the importance of public-private partnerships to spur innovation that addresses industry challenges, especially in emerging technology sectors such as financial technology (FinTech). Prior to Secretary Pritzker’s remarks, the day’s engagements included presentations from five of the world’s largest financial services institutions on areas in which these companies are seeking to innovate to an audience of approximately 45 FinTech startups. Later, these companies held a series of one-on-one sessions with a number of the startups to further explore possible solutions and partnerships.
There was also a panel highlighting examples and insights from recent FinTech partnerships between startups and large firms, one of which was between Northwestern Mutual and LearnVest, the host for the event. LearnVest CEO Alexa von Tobel was deeply involved in the planning of the event, as part of her role as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship. The PAGE program deploys some of America’s most successful entrepreneurs around the country and the world to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs and help them to access the tools they need to succeed.
The Partnership Fund for New York City was also a partner for creating the events and had several of the FinTech startups from their FinTech Innovation Lab as participants. This lab is a place where startups can validate their concepts with real customers, receive feedback from financial institutions, and increase their access to capital.
The most fruitful component of the day’s activities was through the one-on-one interactions between the large financial institutions and the participating startups. The Department and its partners were able to strategically align startups with large firms, based on their mutual interests, products and services.
DOC hosted its first Open for Innovation (O4I) event on August 3, 2015. O4I events convene established corporations and startups and focus on the opportunities for these corporations to source innovation from startups. During one-on-one meetings, startups pitch their capacities to innovate to the large institutions. While these one-on-one meetings take place, Secretary Pritzker briefly visits each of the discussion rooms to observe and engage. O4I events aim to bring potential innovation partners together, and both startups and established corporations come prepared to explore opportunities to innovate collaboratively.