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Space for creative minds

"Our new digital ecosystem will serve as fertile ground for even more innovation and enterprise value, which will ultimately also benefit our core business," says Manuel Gerres, Managing Director of Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures

DB Accelerator at DB mindbox in Berlin serves as the center of DB's collaboration with start-ups and is gradually being expanded. It supports young entrepreneurs by providing three-month workshops, mentoring, jobs at DB mindbox and EUR 25,000 in start-up funding. The four accelerator rounds completed so far have led to contact with over 400 German and international start-ups. Concrete products are being initiated or developed for market launch or series production with around 30 start-ups.

With the US start-up investor Plug and Play, DB has initiated the open innovation platform BEYOND1435 to promote mobility innovations off the rails. Together with industrial and technology partners such as the Alba Group, Siemens AG, Swiss Federal Railways and Bombardier Transportation, BEYOND1435 aims at scaling disruptive start-ups that have the potential to postpone a comprehensive, cross-sectoral development.

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

In addition, the entrepreneurial spirit within the DB is specifically promoted. Deutsche Bahn employees are given the opportunity to realize their business ideas as ideal founders under ideal conditions.

DB mindbox is Deutsche Bahn's coworking space in Berlin. Start-ups and DB employees collaborate on innovations, in particular innovations based on digital technologies, for all of Deutsche Bahn's business segments. The focus is on working with entrepreneurs, hackers and developers. DB mindbox frequently organizes hackathons and start-up challenges and is home to the DB Accelerator program.

The DB Mobility Lab (d.lab), is DB's innovation lab for passenger transport and is headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. It develops new digital products that benefit local and long-distance transport customers. The customer experience is at the center of d.lab's activities. Rapid prototyping is used to develop ideas and concepts based on customers' requirements so that they can be experienced hands on. Customer feedback is then used to systematically refine the prototypes and ideas. Another of d.lab's approaches is to use new methods, such as design thinking, to hardwire agile work and customer focus in passenger transport and other segments at DB. Its third focus is open innovation, which means providing partners such as start-ups, research institutions and other companies support for joint innovation and product development.

Skydeck at DB Systel, Deutsche Bahn's IT service provider, searches for innovative business-wide IT solutions and helps employees make their ideas a reality. It brings together the IT knowledge of DB Systel employees, the subject-matter expertise of DB employees from different business units, research and scientific findings, a start-up way of operating, and creative methods. The Skydeck crew aims to make it possible for people with ideas to create a prototype or develop a business model. Skydeck considers itself DB's digital innovator, a source of inspiration, a platform for sharing ideas and a unique event space.

Experts from DB Schenker, TU Dortmund University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund have been researching solutions for the future global movement of goods at the DB Schenker Enterprise Lab for Logistics and Digitalization since 2015. The primary objective is to apply new technologies such as 3D printing and augmented reality, design digital business models, and develop innovative software prototypes for logistics, for example to optimize warehouse management. The DB Schenker Enterprise Lab also develops teaching and further education offerings for TU Darmstadt students and DB Schenker employees so that scientific findings can be translated to practice more quickly.