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Why we’re expanding our business by co-innovating

Innovation and collaboration will again be top of the agenda when we attend the annual Slush start-up event this December. Here, Patrick Scharwenka, Manager Investments & Strategy, at Arvato Financial Solutions, shares his thoughts on why Slush is one of the key events of the year.


We’re on the hunt for tomorrow’s innovation – and we’re keen to tap into it before anyone else.

Held annually in Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore and Helsinki, Slush is an annual celebration of tech entrepreneurship – and the focal point for the world’s tech start-ups and innovators. This year’s Slush event in Finland will take place on December 4-5. Around 20,000 tech heads are expected to attend.

As Manager for Investments & Strategy at AFS, it is great for me to see that my colleagues from Arvato are trying to connect with different players within our ecosystem. On a day-to-day basis, this can include anything from strategic mergers & acquisitions to venture capital investments. But, even more important is the work we do within innovation management, which includes scouting new FinTech partners.

But why is co-innovation, and by extension events such as Slush, so important for us at AFS?

We have an innovation-first approach

Our entire culture is underpinned by innovation. When we scout a company or product for investment the reason is often to innovate. There is value to be had, of course. But the investment potential often lies in the innovative nature of the product – and how it can boost our own product offering.

A good example of this is our partnership with SolarisBank – a tech start-up with a mission to provide democratized banking services. SolarisBank is the first banking platform which is, primarily, a technology company; but one which has a banking license. At the 2017 Slush event, Marko Wenthin, Co-Founder of the SolarisBank, revealed how, by collaborating and leveraging one another’s competencies, both parties have been able to benefit. You can read more about this innovative partnership here.

Collaboration allows us to serve our clients in the best possible way

At AFS, it’s important that our product portfolio stays ahead of the market, so that we can be the first to really cater to our customers’ needs. One way to do this is to co-create with tomorrow’s innovators within the respective fields. Collaboration means that we can extend our knowledge and capabilities. And, as we know at AFS, smart technology is something which start-ups are very good at bringing to the table. Of course, this is often also complemented by what we bring to the table –extensive market knowledge and a broad network of existing clients within various verticals.

Recently, when our Risk Management division began developing the new product offering ‘Digital Fraud Solution’, we thought that the most effective way to provide a state of the art product would be to leverage outside technology know-how. This is why we partnered with SecuredTouch, a Israel based startup in the behavioural biometrics area. Developing such an advanced product requires very specific tech capabilities, something which vastly improves the quality of our product offering.

Entrepreneurship is part of our culture

The entrepreneurial mindset which is present at Slush is shared at AFS, too. That’s why we’re planning to continue partnering up with different types of players within our ecosystem. This is especially true for tech savvy start-ups as they are building solutions today which the world will use tomorrow.

Our partnerships with tech start-ups aren’t just a fling, they’re core to our business strategy – and our successes with innovators such as SolarisBank and SecuredTouch are helping to bring real value to the lives of our customers, now and in the future.Read more about AFS Investment strategy and AFS here.