Three questions for ... Plug and Play

Katharina Hepp
September 13, 2019
Agility, Innovation, Startups
Baloise enters into a collaboration with the world's largest business accelerator "Plug and Play". Jessica Cheng, Partner Success Manager at Plug and Play, tells us in an interview what accelerators are, why companies cooperate with startups and what innovations are.

Startups and accelerators

Jessica, for someone who has never heard of the term "accelerator" along with with startups: Can you explain us what you do?

Plug and Play is a startup accelerator and as the term might suggest, we help startups to accelerate their rates of growth.

How we do that is very different from other accelerators out there. A traditional accelerator program will pick startups from all industries, take equity and teach them the tactics and strategies to grow. What we actually do is so much more than that. We focus on particular sectors, like Insurtech, Fintech, Mobility or even Food. We never take equity from startups for joining the program and invest in more than 200 of them in over a year.

We don't just help startups build their strategy, we surround them with the biggest and most powerful corporations in their industry in private deal sessions to increase the likelihood of pilots, corporate venture investments and even acquisitions.

Jessica Cheng von Plug and Play

"Innovation is about being creative. It is the application of novel ideas that enable human beings (not just corporations) to stay relevant. Innovation is a way of life and should be embedded in the culture of every organisation."

Jessica Cheng, Plug and Play

Startups and cooperations

Why do companies need startups? What is the advantage?

Innovating is not an easy feat, and certainly does not happen quickly. Startups are lean and can create that agility to help insurers to transform at a faster rate. By engaging with a startup, a corporation can easily test and integrate a specific technology and solution in their businesses. This involves much less risk than dedicating huge amounts of internal resources to develop new solutions.

Many corporations leverage our platform as an external research & development center to drive innovative ideas into the organisation. Startups are doing many things that internal teams cannot do or do not have the capacity to do. With the business units working on projects with startups, they learn from each other’s' mistakes and tap on the capabilities of the other. Corporations need the new mindsets and fresh perspectives of entrepreneurs to promote problem-solving.

Innovation

What does innovation mean to you? How does your contribution to it look like?

As many wise men have said, "Change is the only constant". The need is to constantly improve the status quo and to develop new ways of living, of learning and of conducting businesses. With that, innovation is key.

Innovation is about being creative. It is the application of novel ideas that enable human beings (not just corporations) to stay relevant. Innovation is a way of life and should be embedded in the culture of every organisation. My role provides me with the opportunity to connect with executives from insurance companies all around Europe, to learn about their pain points and to share all the knowledge we have accumulated as Plug and Play. Here at Plug and Play, we often conduct innovation days and ideation workshops with our corporate partners, where we bring value in terms of content creation and startup introductions. Every day, I get to know of and meet with so many stellar startups, each with such incredible backgrounds. I am very glad that I can help to provide a platform for these startups to tell their stories and bridge the gap between the two.

Not only is the connection between startups and corporations important, but peer to peer connection is also extremely valuable. Corporate roundtables and networking sessions that we host serves as an occasion where peer to peer sharing brings corporations closer together as they discover they all face similar challenges, despite being competitors. Startups discover that their solutions are complementary and by combining forces, they can target more aspects of the value chain than before. As we continue to develop our ecosystem in Europe, I am excited to continue helping insurers within the region to develop their innovation strategy and embark on a disruptive journey altogether.  

To the media release

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At the forefront of Innovation with Plug and Play