Co.Station: from real estate to innovation stimulator

One of the viewpoints we have selected for a separate track on our Curiosity Forum is Financial Services. And, as curiosity is mostly stimulated by challenging points of view, this track will be hosted by a Chief Innovation Officer … from, initially, a real estate industry initiative!

Co.Station started out in 2014 as a co-working space, which rapidly grew into three spaces: in Brussels, Ghent and Charleroi. It was intended to be a physical workspace aimed at technical startups, but larger organizations soon discovered its advantages as a separate environment for smaller projects and teams as well.

As these organizations of various sizes and industries got to know each other, they started exchanging ideas and gradually even embarked on joint initiatives. The Co.Station offices thus became far more than an office: they turned into genuine innovation centers.

The scope of innovation grew this last year as well, from company-centric ideas to broad societal themes. “Recently, for example, a think tank initiated by major energy players (Elia, Fluvius, Sibelga, Ores, Resa) has resulted in an energy ecosystem project called IO.Energy Ecosystem. This project was launched in February and turned into a real co-creative ecosystem, including more than 60 companies (Universities, startups and corporates like UGent, UAntwerpen, Proximus, BNPParibas Fortis, N-Side, Restore, Thermovault, Smappee…) actively working together on potential use-cases to be tested in a Sandbox environment.”, says Co.Station’s Chief Innovation Officer Béatrice de Mahieu.

At our Curiosity Forum, Béatrice will host the Financial Sector Viewpoint. “The main reason why they asked me is because our own changing business model and our stimulation of innovation clearly illustrates how you need to keep thinking out of the box. The traditional financial services vendors couldn’t have predicted that the biggest competitor will soon be Google and Amazon instead of the other bank at the end of the corner.”

How can banks and insurance companies compete with these new kids on the block? By thinking beyond their own industry, replies Beatrice: “Cross-industry collaborations will become an important contributor to innovation in the coming years, and the many examples we have witnessed within our Co.Station environment hopefully serve as an inspiration for all attendees. We are in the middle of an interesting merge of the knowledge triangle of Research, Education and Business, who should fit a sustainable open ecosystem taxonomy and ensure dynamic collaborations”

Curious to find out if it helps? Come and register here.