Santander's top 200 executives had to pitch an idea for a startup in one day to keep them 'agile'

New York Yankees Hiroki Kuroda pitches against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts September 13, 2013.REUTERS/Brian SnyderNew York Yankees Hiroki Kuroda pitches against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts September 13, 2013.

Spanish banking giant Santander made 200 of its top executives pitch an idea for a startup in one day in order to keep them “agile,” according to the boss of fintech office hub Level39.

Eric Van der Kleij told Business Insider: “Santander came here to do agile retraining for their top 200 executives through a fantastic programme. It had their executives going through an exercise where they had to build and pitch a startup in a day.

“These are people that have been doing something like compliance in their daily job, the tough end of banking. It was just to encourage agility in thinking and digital adoption.”

Van der Kleij didn’t say when the event at Level39 took place.

Level39 is an office space built by the Canary Wharf Group specifically for fintech (financial technology) startups, many of whom are reinventing the world of finance.

Like most other banks, Santander is keeping a close eye on the innovation coming out of startups right now, both to see how it can improve its own business and to make sure that “agile” startups don’t steal business by doing things faster and cheaper.

The bank has set up 2 funds worth a combined £83 million ($US130 million) to invest in and incubate fintech startups.

Mariano Belinky, head of one of the funds, told Business Insider recently that the bank is also experimenting with blockchain, the technology that runs bitcoin, and can think of up to 25 ways to use it in the bank. Sources also indicate that Santander could be close to investing in a blockchain startup.

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