Innovation at UBS

For UBS, innovation and digitalization are key strategic priorities and we are investing heavily into those areas. Our efforts include driving the development and integration of new technologies into our existing business model and investing in market research to understand what tomorrow's clients will expect from us.

One approach in the industry so far has been to set up venture capital funds and invest in start-up companies, either as investment strategy or to incorporate them at a later stage. Our approach to innovation relies on internal initiatives and external collaborations with technology companies and startups, regulators, peer banks and other market participants, academia and industry thought leaders.

To support these efforts we are adopting the so called "permission-to-fail culture", opening to innovation and experimentation without immediate pressure of failure and ROI. Our innovation strategy is focused on on cross-divisional technology themes and business disruption opportunities that could ultimately deliver better financial services for our clients and premium returns for our shareholders. To reach these objectives, we established in 2014 our Group CTO Innovation function, responsible for:

  • Managing the central process, resources and budget for disruptive innovation
  • Coordinating cross-divisional efforts and supporting the acceleration of innovative projects
  • Developing a culture of innovation at all levels of the organization

The Innovation function is deeply integrated with our Group Chief Technology Office and collaborates with the other divisions of the bank, in the exploration, validation and implementation on innovative ideas and projects that are aligned to specific business objectives and client needs.

In addition, our Innovation Labs play a central role in our global innovation strategy, allowing our teams to engage with local fintech ecosystems and explore local trends in our key markets and businesses. To date we have activated the following Labs and Innovation Outposts:

Wealth Innovation Lab in Zurich

Comprising former start-up founders, IT specialists, designers, project managers, client advisors and finance experts, the team focuses on transformational and radical innovation trends and themes. It aims to provide new client segments with clear innovative value propositions. By doing so, the team builds and validates options for wealth management and paves the way to enable transformation of the organization into the digital world.

UBS Y Think Tank in Zurich

The UBS Y Think Tank explores the society and culture of the 21st century. Going far beyond the scope of traditional wealth management, it enables UBS to develop a deep understanding of tomorrow’s lifestyles and contexts. This broad view allows UBS to discover and identify trends, new areas of interest and the changing needs of clients and prospects.

UBS Innovation Lab at L39 in London

We are the first and only bank to have an innovation lab in the famous Level39, Canary Wharf Group’s technology accelerator space. The Lab enables the team to engage with the vibrant fintech community in London while exploring, testing and developing new ideas in an optimized environment for innovation. Among other initiatives, the Lab investigates blockchain and smart contract technologies.

EVOLVE - UBS Centre for Design Thinking & Innovation in Singapore

The Centre for Design Thinking & Innovation is the first of its kind for UBS in Asia Pacific, and the strategic next step in its digitalization journey. Located at our UBS Business University, the center will be focused on creating new innovative and user-centric products to meet the evolving needs of our Wealth Management clients in Asia Pacific and globally.

Innovation Outposts, R&D Labs and Market Radar Team

We have also recently established outposts in San Francisco and Tel Aviv to engage with the dynamic ecosystem and numerous fintech startups in these cities. Complementing the work of the Innovation Lab, our R&D Labs in Zurich, London, NY and Chicago, and the UBS Market Radar Team (CTO research services) are also constantly engaged in support of our innovation initiates.