OREANDA-NEWS. August 12, 2016. Four enterprising start-ups will soon enter ING’s Innovation Studio to see whether they can make the big time: the launch of a viable commercial business.

Axyon AI, Gekko, Startup Insight and Surance will take part in the bank’s accelerator programme, the third of its type, since it began in July 2015. ING selected the four start-ups from a field of 98 applicants.

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Ten start-ups were invited to the Innovation Studio to pitch their business on 28 July. Ultimately, Axyon AI, Gekko, Startup Insight and Surance were selected to the accelerator program at the Innovation Studio of ING.

The Innovation Studio is ING’s open platform to experiment with new business models. In its accelerator programme, external and internal start-ups work together with coaches, mentors and ING business units to validate their ideas, business models and to determine whether a viable product is possible.

Good market fit

To succeed in making the accelerator programme, start-ups need to show that their business proposition is a good market fit. “Of course ideas should be innovative, but a good idea can only do well in the market when there is an actual need. To make sure the market fit is there, we work closely together with businesses units across ING, said Adam Ayers, Co-Founder of the ING Innovation Studio.

The four start-ups selected each have an ING business unit that sponsors them, for instance by helping them gain access to ING’s network of customers to test their product or service.

COO and co-founder of Axyon, Giacomo Barigazzi, said on being selected to the accelerator programme: “We were accepted to more accelerator programmes, but we observed at ING a real commitment to innovate and realise implementation. That is what we need.”

Joris Docter, CEO and co-founder of Gekko added: “One of the reasons we wanted to join ING’s accelerator programme, is because ING is a good business match with 40% of our users being ING customers.”

Tough selection process

Start-ups from all over the world applied for the programme. They were all reviewed by ING and external partners. The 10 start-ups with the highest score were invited at the end of July to the Innovation Studio to pitch their business.

The four external start-ups selected will join the accelerator program together with two internal start-ups, which were selected through ING’s internal initiative Innovation Bootcamp.

Meet the start-ups!

At the beginning of September, the four external start-ups will begin their six-month stint working with ING in the Innovation Studio. Who are they, what drives them and why do they want to work with ING?

Axyon AI

Axyon AI was started in 2016 they started as a spin-off of DM Digital to explore how artificial intelligence can be applied in several business sectors. They found that using AI technology and neural networks led to more accurate predictions than traditional statistics, as neural networks can absorb more data and make better correlations between data. Axyon AI offers predictive models that can be integrated into softwares of companies in different industries.

COO and co-founder Giacomo Barigazzi: “We did lots of research, built several prototypes and now we need an actual business case to really see how they work in practice and improve them. We think ING is the perfect partner to work with us on a first business case of our product, as we feel people are really committed to innovation and implementation.”

Watch their pitch in the Innovation Studio.


On the radio, the founders of Gekko heard that entrepreneurs can send in pictures of receipts for their tax return. They created a tool that digitalises receipts, a market first. Now, about 3 years later, it has developed into an administration tool for small businesses, free of costs for the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur’s accountant or suppliers, etc. can be granted access to the tool but they will have to pay for using it.

Joris Docter, CEO and co-founder of Gekko: “For an entrepreneur it doesn’t make sense to track all finances and do administration in one tool, and execute money transfers in another. We want to integrate online banking into Gekko. Knowing that 40% of our users are ING customers, being part of ING’s accelerator program creates high hopes for successfully developing this solution.”

Watch their pitch in the Innovation Studio.

Startup insight

With a passion for helping entrepreneurs, the three co-founders of Startup Insight all worked as voluntary coaches for Startup Bootcamp. Now, all their energy goes into their own business to create a platform for entrepreneurs that provides insight into financial and legal matters, ranging from notary services to financial forecasting. The vast amount of data this platform will generate, can be of great value for investors and banks, in order to review how a start-up is doing, helping to make possible investment decisions.

Joris van der Steuijt, COO and co-founder: “Our platform is still very much in the development phase and based on blockchain technology. In the Netherlands, ING is at the forefront of this technology. This, in combination with their resources and network, we feel ING is the right partner to further develop our product to a first viable product we can test.”

Watch their pitch in the Innovation Studio.


Retirement planning is still based on the idea that people work 20 or more years for one employer. However Millennials, for example, often hop from one employer to another, sometimes forced and sometimes by choice, and this led Surance CEO Alexander Brouwer ,who built models for pension funds in a former life, to believe the 20 year assumption was badly flawed.. He left the corporate world and started to work on his own idea. Now almost three years later, his idea has developed into what Surance is today: an app individuals can now use to be in control of growing their capital and to have access to advice that previously only a personal banker could provide.

Alexander Brouwer, CEO and Founder: “Surance provides a solution that is more geared to the individual and to the notion that your life never goes in a straight line. Looking at ING’s network, the bank is a perfect partner to build on and to perfect our prototype.”