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DB Accelerator

Direct from Berlin to Silicon Valley and back

DB Accelerator opened in 2015 • Plug and Play partnership begun in 2017 • Global network of start-ups, mentors and investors

DB has operated its own start-up program, DB Accelerator, at DB mindbox in Berlin since 2015. In that time, it has made contact with over 400 start-ups after four rounds of funding focusing on improving quality in DB's core rail business. Products are being initiated or developed for market launch with around 20 start-ups.

DB has initiated an additional start-up development program with Plug and Play as its new partner, named Beyond1435. This program targets mobility solutions, products and services beyond DB's core business. The aim is to push for modes of transport to network further, set up new services for customers and develop innovative travel-related products and services.

For the first program batch, we’re focusing on Smart City tech, such as:

  • Blockchain
  • Mobility algorithms
  • Integrated mobility products
  • Deep Learning in a mobility context
  • Changing usage of stations and mobility hubs
  • Identification and security for moving goods and people

"With Plug and Play as our partner, we will be able to attract start-ups far beyond Germany to DB," says Manuel Gerres, Head of New Digital Business and Managing Director at Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures GmbH. Gerres believes that DB's customers are already benefiting: "The major advantage of this partnership is that together we can reach a large number of start-ups on both sides of the Atlantic – start-ups that are incredibly dynamic and passionate about working on new data-driven mobility solutions and that want to move quickly to launch new products and services along the travel chain."

The new joint development program combines the appeal of both companies. Start-ups gain access to Deutsche Bahn's vast data, network and customer base and to Plug and Play's expertise and resources, which first and foremost means access to one of the world's largest networks of entrepreneurs and investors. The partners are also planning to create jobs together in Berlin and Sunnyvale, California, and to hold workshops, create coaching programs and take part in start-up events in Silicon Valley.

DB will also serve as anchor partner for the Plug and Play mobility program in the United States. This industry accelerator, with representatives such as Daimler, Paris metro operator RATP and Michelin, will make it possible for DB to reach global start-ups that work on mobility.

Plug and Play is an innovation platform for partnering with start-ups and has invested in over 350 companies since it was created in 2006, helping today's market leaders like PayPal, Dropbox and SoundHound grow and succeed. The world's largest tech accelerator, Plug and Play is currently helping companies from 30 countries find success. It has created a unique start-up ecosystem with over 2,000 start-ups and more than 300 partnerships with companies. Plug and Play is a co-investor and partner of leading venture capital firms and holds 365 events a year around the world to help start-ups find investors.

Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures GmbH is responsible for evaluating start-ups and support and investment opportunities. The company has set aside an additional EUR 100 million in venture capital to invest by 2019.