SEAT presented its electric strategy today which, until the beginning of 2021, will include six electric and plug-in hybrid models. The electric version of the Mii and el-Born will be the brand’s first two fully electric models, while the new generation Leon and the Tarraco will feature a plug-in hybrid version. Furthermore, the CUPRA Leon and the CUPRA Formentor will also have a plug-in hybrid variant. SEAT President Luca de Meo also announced today at the company’s annual media conference that the CUPRA Formentor, the new CUV that was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, will be built at the Martorell factory.
For the first time in the history of the company, SEAT will develop a new vehicle platform in collaboration with the Volkswagen brand, a smaller version of the Modular Electric Drive Toolkit (MEB) on which multiple vehicles of the size of around four metres in length by different brands, SEAT among them, will be made. The goal of the new platform is to develop affordable electric vehicles, with an entry level price below 20,000 euros. More than 300 highly skilled engineers will be participating in this project in Spain.
During the presentation of the results held at SEAT’s corporate headquarters in Martorell, company CEO Luca de Meostated that “SEAT now has a clearer role in the Volkswagen Group, and thanks to the results obtained, we have earned the new electric vehicle platform.” “For the first time, the SEAT Technical Centre will be developing a platform that may be used by more brands around the globe,” added de Meo.
Volkswagen AG CEO Dr. Herbert Diess attended the presentation and emphasised SEAT’s role within the Volkswagen Group: “SEAT is playing a new role within the Volkswagen Group taking on even more responsibility. This year’s achievements underline SEAT’s potential to make use of growth opportunities and open new markets.” Dr. Diess added that “The small electric platform project is a great step towards an even more affordable electric mobility. SEAT will realize the first electric vehicle that is especially designed for urban journeys.”
The electric offensive reaches further than new models and also encompasses a micromobility strategy which, as announced by the CEO of SEAT during the Mobile World Congress, the company is going to lead for the Volkswagen Group. The recently unveiled Minimó concept car plays a part in this strategy and the electric SEAT eXS kickscooter are two examples of urban micromobility solutions put forward by the company.
2018, the best year in the history of SEAT
In 2018 SEAT obtained the best results in its history. Profit after tax went up to 294 million euros, 4.6% more than the previous year (281). Moreover, operating profit grew by 93.2% to stand at 223 million euros (2017: 116) and turnover amounted to 9.991 billion euros, which is 4.6% higher than the 2017 result (9.552). All amounts set new historic records. In the past five years, SEAT’s turnover has grown by 33%.
In addition, deliveries increased to the highest level in SEAT’s nearly seven decades of existence, and the figure of 517,600 vehicles sold (10.5% more than in 2017), made SEAT the fastest growing brand in Europe last year. Boosted by the Ateca and the Arona, selling models with a greater contribution margin helped the improvement of SEAT’s profit results. In its first year as an independent brand, CUPRA was instrumental in increasing the company’s bottom line after sales went up by 40% to reach 14,400 units.
According to Luca de Meo, “2018 was the best year in the history of SEAT. For the first time we have good products in the relevant and most profitable segments, which has led us to become one of the fastest growing brands in Europein the past three years. The SUV offensive we began in 2016 exceeded our most optimistic expectations and one out of every three cars sold last year entered in this category. SEAT can now look the future straight in the eyes.”
The sound progress of the business enabled SEAT to accelerate its investment programme. In 2018 alone, the company allocated 1,223 million euros, 27.1% more (2017: 962) to investments and R&D expenses, the highest figure in its history. Of this volume, 656 million euros was earmarked exclusively to R&D, which is 41.4% more than the previous year (2017:464).
Vice-president for Finance, IT and Organisation Holger Kintscher pointed out that, “As SEAT stands today, it is a financially sound, sustainable company. We have a thorough cost-efficiency programme and the resources to face the technological transformation of the automotive industry. We need that to stay profitable in the future.”
In 2018, SEAT exported 80% of its production output and consolidated itself as Spain’s largest industrial exporter, with close to 3% of the country’s total export figure. The goal for forthcoming years is to step up the company’s globalisation. In this sense, it is rolling out an ambitious growth strategy in North Africa, where it will lead the Volkswagen Group’s vehicle assembly project in Algeria and aims to increase its presence in the region in the medium term. Latin America is another potential territory for the brand to expand in, and there are plans to begin operations in Chile in the second half of 2019 and strengthen its presence in Colombia. In China, SEAT is a part of the JAC Volkswagen joint venture and preparations are being made for its entry in the world’s largest car market.
Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund’s JUMPSTARTER Launches Global Pitch Competition
Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, a non-profit initiative launched by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., today kicked off the application process for JUMPSTARTER, its signature start-up event in Hong Kong. This year, JUMPSTARTER is, for the first time, hosting a global pitch competition, with pitching events in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, London, San Francisco and Toronto. The aim is to connect global talent, start-ups and entrepreneurs with JUMPSTARTER’s highly competitive Hong Kong Grand Finale to take place within StartmeupHK Festival on February 11-12, 2020.
The campaign will provide up to a combined US$5 million investment commitment and US$100,000 in cash to the top five JUMPSTARTER start-ups.
In partnership with InvestHK, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEX), Cyberport and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), JUMPSTARTER will not only provide capital to winning start-ups, but also offer networking opportunities with top investors, corporates and other start-ups. As a part of InvestHK’s StartmeupHK Festival, JUMPSTARTER provides a platform that brings start-ups, entrepreneurs, corporates and investors to build, empower and boost connections among different ecosystems and international tech hubs. Top JUMPSTARTER companies will also get access to the Alibaba ecosystem to help them gain valuable insight, experience and resources to expand their businesses. (See appendix for quotes from the global co-organizer and the co-organizers)
The third JUMPSTARTER is taking the event to a new level with the introduction of eight pitching events in Hong Kongand seven other international cities from August to November 2019. Each event is expected to host over 100 start-ups, and 40 finalists from these global locations will be given the opportunity to participate in the JUMPSTARTER Grand Finale in Hong Kong in February 2020. These events will attract rising stars interested in the Hong Kong and Asiamarkets and further enhance Hong Kong’s position as a start-up hub for the region.
One of the highlights of JUMPSTARTER is a start-up competition featuring young companies from four sectors – retail, fintech, smart city and advanced technology — viewed as key to Hong Kong’s long-term economic development. In particular, JUMPSTARTER provides more exposure for fintech start-ups. For fintech start-ups that apply for the JUMPSTARTER competition, they will also automatically be entered into FintechHK Global Competition, organized by InvestHK, in November 2019 during Hong Kong Fintech Week. (See appendix for the application requirement and timeline)
“Our immensely successful second JUMPSTARTER early this year attracted 10,000 attendees with over 600 business proposals. By substantially expanding the scale of the competition with start-up pitching events across the Asia Pacific, Canada, Europe and the U.S., we are truly putting JUMPSTARTER on the global stage, welcoming incredible young entrepreneurs from around the world and connecting them with amazing opportunities,” said Cindy Chow, Executive Director of Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund.
“We look forward to empowering start-ups, regardless of their home base, and are excited to embark on new journeys together with them leveraging the unique Hong Kong advantage. Through our third JUMPSTARTER, we join hands with InvestHK, HKEX, Cyberport and HKSTP, who share a common belief with us that Hong Kong is a regional powerhouse for start-ups. We hope to continue to foster an environment in the city that embraces entrepreneurial spirit and we are ready to unleash the potential of innovations and entrepreneurship around the globe,” added Chow.
JUMPSTARTER is open for applications from today. Interested parties can visit www.jumpstarter.hk for more information.
Appendix – Quotes from Global Co-organizer and Co-organizers of JUMPSTARTER 2020
Stephen Phillips, Director-General of InvestHK, said: “The two flagship events spearheaded by InvestHK – Hong Kong Fintech Week and StartmeupHK Festival – are a perfect tie-in with JUMPSTARTER. We look forward to collaborating closely with Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund in the coming months. The final pitch of the FintechHK Global Competition will take place on November 6, 2019 at Hong Kong Fintech Week, and the Grand Finale of the JUMPSTARTER Global Pitch Competition next February. With an increasing number of startups across the globe seeing impressive and explosive growth across all kinds of industries, we stand ready to support their journey in scaling their business globally via Hong Kong.”
Charles Li, Chief Executive of HKEX, said: “It is our vision to be the global markets leader in the Asian time zone — connecting China, connecting the world. We are delighted to be supporting JUMPSTARTER in helping them attract quality startups and talents to Hong Kong, and look forward to working with them in promoting Hong Kong as a world-leading centre for entrepreneurship, fundraising and IPOs.”
Peter Yan, Chief Executive Officer of Cyberport, said: “Cyberport is committed to nurturing youth, start-ups and entrepreneurs to grow in the digital tech industry by connecting them to strategic partners and investors. The Global Pitch Competition by JUMPSTARTER aligns with our aim to promote Hong Kong as a hub for innovation and technology that connects quality start-ups, corporates and investors, and empower Hong Kong’s start-up community.”
Albert Wong, Chief Executive Officer of HKSTP, said: “Hong Kong Science Park is of full commitment that we strive to co-create with various stakeholders to our ever-growing I&T ecosystem, and may this empower our start-ups continue to grow and succeed by crystallising ideas into solutions. With JUMPSTARTER that connects tech hubs around the world, it further promotes a message to the world of Hong Kong as an international I&T hub and destination for global companies and talent to seek new opportunities while bringing our home-grown companies and solutions out to the world.”
Appendix – JUMPSTARTER application requirement and timeline
If your start-ups fulfil the following requirements, you are eligible to apply:
- Less than 5 years old
- Have raised less than US$20 million in funding
- Start-up funding is between Seed and Series C stage
- Possess a ground-breaking and innovative product or service
- Desire to make Hong Kong part of your future plans
SOURCE Alibaba Group
Investment Priorities Set Digital Champions Apart
Companies focusing on upskilling their workforces and spending more on technology/IT are typically more digitally mature than companies spending less on these priorities, according to a study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) based on a survey of 1,800 companies in Asia, the EU, and the US. Among industries surveyed, financial institutions and telecommunications companies are the most digitally advanced, with more than 25% of those companies across the globe qualifying as digital champions. Energy and public sector institutions trail, with more than 40% of those companies dubbed digital laggards.
“It’s clear that prioritizing investments correctly is one of surest ways to become digitally mature,” says Michael Grebe, senior partner and technology expert at BCG. Michael Ruessmann, BCG senior partner and expert on digital transformation, adds, “The laggards need to pay close attention to how industry leaders allocate their precious investment resources if they are to remain competitive and not lose ground.”
“Digital Acceleration Index” Measures the Degree of Digital Maturity
The study was based on BCG’s Digital Acceleration Index (DAI). BCG asked managers and executives to assess their companies’ digital maturity against defined criteria on a scale from one to four in 35 categories. The firm then aggregated those raw scores and assigned values to their responses from 0 to 100. Companies with a DAI of 67 to 100 qualified as champions, while those with a DAI of 43 or less were categorized as laggards.
Where Do Digital Champions Come From?
The survey was conducted across nine industries in three regions—Asia, the EU, and the US. The best performing industry was the financial services industry in Asia with a DAI score of about 60. In both the EU and US, telecommunications was the leading industry. Particularly interesting was the strong performance in Asia of certain industries that are lagging elsewhere. Consumer companies in Asia rate their digital maturity higher than they do in the US and Europe. “This was our first year including Asia in our survey, and the Asian companies came out strong. Their digital maturity across industries is high compared with global peers,” says Michael Ruessmann.
Digital Champions Achieve Breakthrough Performance in Three Key Ways
The study identified three boosters that champions rely on to become digitally mature. First, they spend over 5% of OPEX on digital projects. Notably, the share of US champions investing at this level (90%) is substantially higher than peers in Asia (75%) and the EU (65%). Champions everywhere also tend to devote more than 10% of their employees to digital roles and digital projects. Here, Asian champions (54%) are slightly ahead of US peers (51%) and more noticeably ahead of EU (44%) peers. This workforce focus helps Asian companies score highest for “new ways of working.” Finally, champions also scale up digital solutions more broadly than laggards and aren’t as likely to get stuck in use-case pilots. “After three years of conducting our survey, these digital boosters have been consistent, and have reliably helped to set champions apart,” says Michael Grebe.
Digital Champions Have Sharp Investment Focus
Champions plan to grow their digital workforces and spend more on upskilling their workforces than laggards. The study found that three out of four champions plan to grow their digital workforce more than 20%. Looking through a regional lens, over 90% of champions in Asia plan to grow their staff at this rate, while EU and US champions are less ambitious—70% and 65%, respectively.
But champions also have an internal focus. Half of champions plan to upskill more than 20% of their staff with digital capabilities, while fewer than a third of laggards do. Interestingly, champions invest 22% of their total digital investment in technology/IT, while laggards spend 16%. But this incremental investment contributes to a much higher DAI score in technology/IT, 78 DAI vs. 29 DAI, and implies that the gap between champions and laggards is likely to grow.
Asian Champions Are Leading the Way in Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Globally, around half of champions dedicate more than 10% of the digital workforce to AI, while a substantially smaller number of laggards (29%) do so. Asian companies have the most people working on AI. The study found that twice as many Asian companies dedicate more than 10% of their digital staff to AI compared with the EU and US. Asian companies are also further along in AI adoption, with 87% of Asian companies having some level of AI adoption vs. 78% in the EU and 74% in the US.
SOURCE Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
Bleckwen Raises $10m and Appoints David Christie as CEO
Bleckwen, a provider of real-time analytics software for fraud detection & prevention in payments, has come out of stealth to announce a $10 million first funding round. The funding will be used to support Bleckwen’s international expansion and the continued development of the company’s exciting software capabilities in AI-based fraud detection. The company’s expertise is strategically focused on the wider anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) context. Bleckwen recently spun-off from Ercom, the French cybersecurity firm. The round was led by Ring Capital, a Paris-based venture capital firm and existing investors, including TempoCap, Bpifrance and Ineo, alongside senior management.
Built with banks, for banks, Bleckwen’s real-time, dynamic behavioural analytics & explainable AI-engine is well placed to detect the surging fraud threats in payments, such as authorised push payment fraud or the “human hack” which is growing by circa 60% year-on-year, driven by the surge in real-time payment networks globally. The platform also protects banks from the emergent risks of open banking under PSD2, where banks will no longer have full control of the end-to-end user experience and security perimeter, presenting a completely new threat dimension.
Over the last year, the company has also strengthened its management team with the hire of David Christie, a 20-year veteran in financial services, previously the COO of Euronet’s money transfer business, which included the brands Ria, HiFX and XE. David is also Chairman of VitessePSP and investor in Shieldpay, bringing with him a wealth of experience implementing and operating both fraud and AML systems in payment businesses.
David is also joined by Matt Knowles, who was recently appointed Chairman of Bleckwen. Matt was previously CEO of HiFX, and together he and David successfully scaled HiFX into a world leading international payments company prior to its successful sale to Euronet.
David Christie, Bleckwen’s CEO, commented: “Nearly $4 trillion is stolen and laundered through banks annually – circa 3% of global GDP. Existing technologies are just not cutting it in the fight against this scourge of society. Something else needs to be done and at Bleckwen, we have made tremendous progress over the last two years as part of the Ercom Group, developing solutions to bring the fight to these criminals.”
“This fundraising is confirmation of our ‘scale-up readiness’ and the support from Ring Capital and our existing investors is testament to our expertise in productising class-leading AI-based analytics in the fight against financial crime for banks. Using Bleckwen’s software, we are seeing false positive ratios drop by over 95%, the time taken to resolve alerts fall by over 50%, and a reduction in fraud loss ratios by over 60% – as compared with incumbent legacy-based rules systems.”
“Working very closely with our customers, which include a tier-1 global bank, we have developed a market-leading, payment-type agnostic, real-time capability to meet their fraud detection and prevention requirements at industrial scale. Bleckwen’s software can also dynamically adapt to ever-changing customer behaviours and profiles. We have also significantly strengthened our senior management team and operational infrastructure and will be opening offices in the UK and the US in 2019.”
Matt Knowles, TempoCap Partner and Bleckwen Chairman, commented: “Having co-founded and scaled an international payments company that processed $20 billion annually, I have extensive real-world experience of the challenges faced by both fintechs and banks in of the domain of fraud detection and AML. I have been deeply impressed by Bleckwen’s advanced use of machine learning technology to radically increase fraud detection over current solutions, but, as importantly, substantially reduce the volume of false positives (which build friction and cost into the customer journey). We see significant potential to commercialise this technology across banks, fintechs & other multi-national enterprises to help combat fraud and AML risk across all payment types.”
Nicolas Celier, co-founder of Ring capital, commented: “Bleckwen has appeared to us as the unique combination of state-of-the-art AI technology, built by a leading French data team, together with top international management with a solid track record of scaling up Fintech companies worldwide. Ring knew Bleckwen before the spin-off and has contributed to design this deal in order to help Bleckwen grow and scale.”
Thierry Sommelet, Managing Director at Bpifrance Growth Capital – Head of Technology, Media, Telecom, said: “Bleckwen is uniquely positioned to help the fast-moving payments ecosystem improve clients’ protection and transaction efficiency, thanks to a leading-edge AI technology and experienced management. We are very happy to see David Christie and Matt Knowles join this adventure, as well as Ring Capital. We are confident that they will collectively thrive in driving the company on its new phase of growth.”
Bleckwen was recently awarded Fintech of the year at the EBAday 2019, an event run by the Euro Banking Association – an expert-led forum for the European payments industry with nearly200 member banks. Selected out of a category of 16 other finalists, the company received the prestigious award based on the innovative and dynamic nature of its market-leading AI-powered platform.
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