When freedom meets the resources of a major corporation
DB banks on dynamic young companies and start-ups
New business models and products for the future are emerging from DB's innovation labs. After four rounds of funding so far through its own start-up development program, which focuses on improving quality in the core rail business, DB has already established contact with over 400 start-ups. Concrete products are being initiated or developed for market launch or series production with around 20 start-ups.
Below are a few examples:
KONUX, which offers a smart maintenance solution, was one of the first start-ups to work with DB, in 2015. In the future, sensors developed by the company will monitor the sinking of ties into ballast at switches on high-speed lines and report irregularities online. The Munich start-up was founded in 2014 and is rooted in labs at the Technical University of Munich. Together with DB partners, KONUX is working on readying a system that analyzes bearer depth in high-speed transport for series production.
Sensitive sensors for predictive maintenance
Dynamic Components gives DB maintenance engineers an integrated solution for connecting sensitive sensors to switches and signals. The sensors collect data from mechanical components and environmental influences. A mini-computer transmits measurements to the cloud or servers. This data can then be used to better gauge when a component will next need maintenance, which will in turn prevent failures. The solution also enables predictive maintenance for elevators and escalators.
Italian flair with a clear conscience on the streets of Berlin
eMio, a start-up established in 2015 and located at the EUREF campus in Berlin, provides Germany's first sharing service for electric scooters. It currently has 150 scooters in its sharing fleet and already some 13,000 customers in Berlin. The scooters are distributed throughout Berlin's core area within the S-Bahn circle line according to the free-floating principle, which means that they are not parked at designated stations. Customers locate and rent the scooters using the eMio app. The start-up participated in the DB Accelerator program in 2015 and 2016 and is looking into opportunities to cooperate with DB Motor Vehicle Fleet. As of 2017, scooters can now be reserved using the Flinkster app.
Application channels for digital natives
DB's cooperation with JobUFO is part of its recruiting strategy. The JobUFO app lets you create your own 30 second smartphone video from your couch to apply for jobs. The start-up originated with the Spin-Lab Accelerator at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management and the Microsoft Accelerators in Berlin. DB has collaborated with JobUFO since August 2016.
Sound keeps escalators running
Neuron equips escalators at train stations with microphones and analyzes the sound generated by the motor. Service technicians use recordings to identify any deviations from normal operating noise, which could indicate a mechanical issue with the escalator. Repair work is then fine-tuned based on the interference pattern. Technicians then have predictive maintenance performed on the escalator to prevent a potential malfunction. For customers, this means that escalators are always in working order.
Day trips by bus and train
Never has it been so easy to plan day trips and vacations without a car. Simply enter your starting point, when you would like to leave and how long you're willing to travel. Then pick what activity you're in the mood for: swimming at a lake, eating a delicious meal or relaxing at a spa. The service displays only suggestions that can be reached by train, bus or bicycle in the desired travel time, including walking, from your starting point.
Naturtrip.org combines route planning using public transportation with day trip suggestions. Germany's Saxon Switzerland region was selected as a model region in collaboration with Fahrtziel Natur and DB Sales. The tool is already being tested on the touchscreen terminal at the new DB Information counter at Berlin Südkreuz station.
Lighting up walls and stairways
SIUT uses fiber optics to transform concrete into signs and warning indicators. Passengers can use illuminated concrete surfaces to better orient themselves at stations. The start-up develops pre-fabricated concrete components whose surfaces are dotted with points of light. Customers can have the lights arranged in lines, as symbols, as text or as logos depending on their needs. The founders, now managing directors, have researched concrete and light and cooperated with TU Berlin since 2012. The Berlin start-up SIUT Lichtfaserbeton was established in 2015 and participated in the DB Accelerator program in 2016. The first concrete walls have been installed in Berlin's Anhalter Bahnhof subway station.
"City Trees" made of moss
City Trees are not trees at all. They are free-standing walls that are four meters high and 60 cm thick and are planted with more then 1,600 special moss plants. A built-in tank provides water, and solar panels provide electricity. Sensors monitor the supply of water and nutrients. Thanks to its large surface area, the moss efficiently filters exhaust gases and fine dust from the air. A CityTree has an environmental performance of up to 275 conventional city trees and at EUR 25,000, costs a fraction of the price. The sustainable city furniture will increase the quality of stay in train stations.