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Shaping the future of finance

True innovation comes from collaboration

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This week's blogs are inspired by our global connector Marisol Menendez

This week is a bit different on the blog as I’m going to introduce you to one of my other businesses: Nordic Future Innovation.

Nordic Future Innovation (originally Nordic Finance Innovation) is a venture I  started almost ten years ago with Iren Tranvag. We began in Oslo and gradually expanded to Copenhagen, Helsinki, Reykjavik, Stockholm and even Tallinn, San Francisco and Singapore! The group is doing well, including in lockdown times via video, and having regular meetings with a focus upon: bringing the Nordics together to boost global innovation.

In particular we focus upon collaboration to create innovation.

“True innovations will come not from new technologies, but from new ways of collaboration”.  Thomas W. Malone, MIT, 2015

All companies are facing the challenges of an ultra-fast changing world, which is why collaboration is key to keep a good response to the market, economic, innovation, future and all kinds of demands. Connected innovation is the power path for innovation. Organisations don’t need to own all the knowledge, talent, tools, ideas, opportunities … they can’t in fact, as there are a huge number of common challenges amongst organisations that can be solved by collaborating to identify solutions.

Many banks have programs to search for innovation outside their borders. Scouting the market for solutions, finding the right ones and validating them however is an expensive and long process whilst the returns for that effort begins much later. In this quest to shorten and accelerate the process of innovation, sharing experiences among corporations can be a source of efficiency and improvement as well as a possibility for future collaboration.

In a major unified effort, NFI members joined forces to build a common process to connect, know, validate and engage with startups, individuals and organisations potentially providing solutions for the market. The process focused upon how these companies could join the network to create trust in them and accelerate the connection process. 

“Let’s build better highways, so we can run better races!” 

The process developed a collaboration model, allowing a common ground and building a more efficient space for competitive efforts, with NFI as a common meeting point.

The result was that NFI celebrated the very first Nordic Connection Festival during the summer of 2020. The Festival focused upon an active search for real solutions to real challenges in the areas of Digital Onboarding, Regtech, Sustainability and AI, applied to customer service and financial health.

Eleven start-ups were selected to present their solutions to the banks who are looking for them. Coming from nine different countries and three different timezones, the participants were: Beaufort,,, Ducky, Econans, Meniga, Voting, Movizzon, Nymiz, Pliance,, and Smartme.

It was all held virtually and under COVID19 safety structures, with all of these startups ready to collaborate with companies who need their capabilities, and all of them with recommendation and validation from other members of the NFI network.

It was an exhilarating time where, through real demos, start-ups presented their ideas.

At the end, and still in the spirit of matchmaking, attendees voted for those they felt were the “Best of Show”. This week, I will share interviews with the absolute favourite of the NFI audience, and the two runners-up who came really close.

First interview tomorrow.

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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