Started in May 2016, the innovation and cooperation platform STARTUP AUTOBAHN between established companies and startups has successfully completed the first program with the EXPO Day at ARENA2036 on the campus Vaihingen of the University of Stuttgart. A big day for the 13 startups Otonomo, Noveto, blickshift, Gauzy, n-join, TruckPad, Free2Move (formerly CarJump), Evopark, Vayyar, Hopon, Argus, 4tiitoo, and Canatu: On 9 February, the entrepreneurs presented their innovative ideas centred on the key topics Mobility and Industry 4.0 in front of some 1000 people who listened with great interest. By taking part in the first three-month STARTUP AUTOBAHN program, as part of pilot projects with Daimler AG, special coaching sessions or with support from mentors the selected startups were able to considerably advance their companies.
At the EXPO Day event University of Stuttgart’s rector Prof. Wolfram Ressel was impressed by the wide spectrum of innovative ideas and underlined: “The innovation and cooperation platform has already given a new impulse to our entrepreneurship activities at the University of Stuttgart. Thus, we are quite far along in our talks with Daimler concerning a new entrepreneurship professorship. I am happy to see today two successful startups from the University of Stuttgart amongst the winners of the first program presenting their innovative products.”
Ola Källenius, as the Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Development Mercedes-Benz Cars, said: "We have gained talented founders with outstanding ideas for STARTUP AUTOBAHN. I am sure that we will also be cooperating with some participants in future and will so drive forward the mobility of the future with trend-setting technologies and innovations even faster."
From multi-touch surfaces to RFID-supported reservation and billing of parking spaces
The entrepreneurs from all over the world used the opportunity at the EXPO Day to show their company in the best light to an international audience, to numerous investors and potential partners. Features presented included transparent and flexible multi-touch surfaces (Canatu) plus solution approaches for RFID-supported parking in multi-storey car parks (Evopark), steering tones and sound via special loudspeakers directly to the ears of the desired listener (Noveto) and an eye tracking software for driver assistant systems and automatic driving cars (Blickshift). The intensive cooperation between the startups and the STARTUP AUTOBAHN team is opening doors for further joint activities. So it is possible that long-term collaborations with Daimler and with other investors or industry partners may well come about at the end of the program.
Development of a new ecosystem
Daimler initiated STARTUP AUTOBAHN in May 2016 as an open innovation and cooperation platform for startups and existing companies from the fields of Mobility and Industry 4.0. It addresses both international and local startups and partner companies. The founding members of the initiative alongside Daimler AG are the US partner Plug & Play Tech Center in its role as startup accelerator and Investor, the University of Stuttgart plus the research factory ARENA2036. Through STARTUP AUTOBAHN the aim is for the Stuttgart region to become an innovation hub for Mobility and Industry 4.0 and for an attractive startup ecosystem to be created by pooling innovative partner expertise.
The founding members are therefore delighted to welcome new partners. After Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), further partners now on board are BASF, ZF Friedrichshafen, Porsche, and Murata. A common characteristic of all the sponsors is their aim to anchor the pioneering and founding spirit even more strongly in the industrial region of Stuttgart and the local startup scene. This is why Fritz Kuhn, Mayor of the City of Stuttgart, was not just a guest at the EXPO Day, he is also considered to be an active supporter of the initiative.
Following EXPO Day: Selection Day
Building on the positive experiences of the first program, the second Selection Day will take place on 10 February, directly after the EXPO-Day and the candidates for the next program will be chosen. A good three dozen international startups were selected in advance to this end in the past few weeks from great number of applicants.
The entrepreneurs are offered the ideal working environment in the form of space in the ARENA2036 research factory at the University of Stuttgart campus. They can use the coworking space as well as the brand-new Hardware Lab at ARENA2036 for three months for implementing their ideas and in the ideal scenario start pilot projects with one or several industry partners in the initiative. The aim is for them to have the courage and the freedom to rethink mobility and production of the future.