Doubling down on cutting edge tech development in all areas, not just adjacent to the automotive field, BMW announced today the launch of its first collaboration lab for technology entrepreneurs. This new venture is set up to work as an accelerator for those interested in developing next-level tech, providing the possibility of working in collaboration with BMW in certain fields. Entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses in fintech and other fields are invited to develop, and then realize, innovative solutions and game-changing new technologies.

The so-called BMW Financial Services Collaboration Lab 2018 will be run in partnership with L Marks corporate innovations specialists and investment fund. Beginning today, the program will accept entries in five categories: Digitizing the Customer Journey, Data Analytics and Insights, Building a Blockchain Strategy, Lease Returns and Life Cycle Management, and a Wildcard category for proposals that do not fit into one of the other categories. Submissions will be accepted from May 8, 2018 through June 17, 2018 through the website

“BMW Group Financial Services Collaboration Lab is designed to ensure the alignment and enhancement of our overall vision of transforming how people access and enjoy personal mobility, today. This will have long-lasting effects on our business and positively impact our customers and dealer partners,” said Ian Smith, CEO of BMW Group Financial Services USA and Region Americas. “By working collaboratively with talented entrepreneurial companies, we will drive new thinking, explore new technologies and develop pioneering solutions. We will ensure that we continue to remain highly relevant and meaningful for our customers well in to the future. Collaboration is where innovation and implementation meet.”

Following the initial submission period, five finalists in each category will pitch their ideas live to a panel of judges from BMW Financial Services, BMW of North America, and L Marks. The top competitor in each category will be invited to join a 10-week lab at BMW Financial Services’ regional service center in Hilliard, Ohio, to further develop their ideas alongside leading subject matter experts in the automotive and financial sectors.

During the intensive 10-week program, the selected companies will be situated in a collaborative environment, and will benefit from access to the company’s leadership team, industry experts, investment professionals, and business education programs. L Marks will also provide fundraising support.