Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures
Investing in digital mobility: from ridesharing to the address system
Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures funds and develops new data-driven business models. Alongside the technological focus on big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), the main emphasis is on the transformative energy that entrepreneurs and technology partners bring to the market and their ability to establish forward-looking customer solutions on a broad front in three key fields: mobility, logistics and smart cities.
Boris Kühn, one of the two managing directors of DB Digital Ventures:
We're all about investing in innovations that could be key technologies for mobility and logistics in the future.
Startups not only receive venture capital; they also get access to experts, data, customers and markets. In other words, the DB Group's entire network.
Founded in 2013, the British company what3words has overlaid the globe with a grid consisting of 57 billion squares, each measuring 3x3 meters. Unique three-word addresses are assigned to the coordinates of each of these squares. what3words provides a precise and convenient way to communicate and find locations. It gives every location in the world an address, even locations without a physical street address or postal code. Courier services in Europe and the United States already use what3words to deliver goods faster and accurately. Deutsche Bahn hopes to use what3words in logistics as well. DB also sees a lot of potential in developing autonomous vehicle fleets for public mobility since what3words enables precise navigation.
The corporate headquarters of Deutsche Bahn at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin is the first corporate building in Germany with a what3words address. DB CEO Richard Lutz and what3words CCO Clare Jones unveiled a logo with its german three-word address – "lebendig.webseiten.auflösen" (roughly translated as "vibrant.websites.solve") – on August 28, 2017. The main BahnTower entrance is quick and easy to find using the three words.
Talixo, which was established in Berlin in 2012, connects passengers and vehicles in a new way through a smart booking platform. Depending on where you are in the world, taxi and carpooling services are organized differently and their availability varies, making billing complicated, with multiple different components, Talixo makes things easier for customers by pooling taxi and car services. It makes booking a taxi or car service around the world as easy as it is to book a hotel or flight. The platform already offers last-mile mobility in 560 cities in 91 countries. Talixo ensures the same high standards for quality and safety around the world. A single system is used for booking and billing.
Connected Signals, which was established in Oregon in the US Pacific Northwest in 2011, monitors and analyzes the red and green phases of traffic lights. Intelligent processing of this information enables it to optimally manage transport – from individual cars to autonomous vehicle fleets and entire cities. The company uses real-time transport data and artificial intelligence to network vehicles and city infrastructure. The result is less congestion and a lower risk of accident. The data made available by Connected Signals is already being used by automakers in the United States to display the length of traffic light phases in the latest models of cars.
CleverShuttle, a German company established in 2014, offers efficient, affordable and green door-to-door mobility within city centers. Germany's first officially approved ridesharing service connects passengers with similar routes, for a service that costs up to 40% less than a taxi. A algorithm enables smart pooling and routing. Electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles are on the road in Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, Dresden, Frankfurt am Main, Munich and Stuttgart. Environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles went into use for the first time in Hamburg on September 8, 2017. The ridesharing service was launched in Stuttgart on May 17, 2018, and hydrogen vehicles are used there as well. CleverShuttle is especially appealing to rail customers who want a convenient and eco-friendly lift to and from the station.
Ridecell wants to change the way people get from A to B and helps car rental companies, car clubs, cities and transportation companies implement new mobility services. The California company offers a smart software platform for running carsharing services and carpools and for autonomous fleet management. End-to-end integration and automation ensure that RideCell customers can launch mobility services quickly, run them efficiently and generate revenues through business growth.
Headquartered in San Francisco, RideCell was established in 2009 and has already facilitated 20 million journeys. It employs a team of over 100 experts in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia. It supports mobility services including BMW's ReachNow, Volkswagen's OMNI and the carsharing service GIG operated by the American Automobile Association (AAA). RideCell also powers dynamic shuttle services for university campuses, such as Georgia Tech and UC Berkeley, and for transportation companies such as SouthWest Transit.
By investing in RideCell, DB can offer all of the ways to use car fleets – rental, ride hailing, carpooling and carsharing – on a single platform. This increases the capacity utilization of fleets and allows cars to be better distributed based on customers' needs. Talks are currently under way with ioki and other divisions so that DB products can benefit from the RideCell platform.
In addition to DB, other investors include BMW and renowned Silicon Valley venture capital funds.
New York startup GoKid makes life easier for parents around the world. GoKid runs a carpool platform for driving children to school, sports and other after-school activities safely and on time. Reliability and trust are especially important when it comes to transporting children. GoKid helps families, friends and neighbors organize carpools. Routes are optimized and drivers must have their own children in the car. The app lets parents track when children are picked up, what route the driver is taking and when they arrive at school or practice.
GoKid has already organized over 150,000 trips. Parents save time and money and help protect the environment, and the carpools reduce rush hour traffic. Using GoKid to take children to school costs communities around 90% less than school buses.
GoKid could be added to mobility services such as ioki and CleverShuttle, making them even more appealing. DB has held an interest in GoKid since May 2018 through Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures GmbH.
The young company was one of 12 startups in the 2016 Techstars Mobility Class and won the transportation category of the SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event at the renowned South by Southwest tech festival.
The free app is available for iOS and Android and can be downloaded at www.gokid.mobi.
The cyber world is changing at a rapid pace. Mobility is becoming more digital every day, connecting more and more data. Californian startup Trillium from Sunnyvale is helping mobility companies to keep pace with this development. The IoT cybersecurity company specializes in data backups for vehicles and vehicle fleets. With comprehensive security concepts, Trillium offers protection against cyber attacks to ensure secure, confidential and anonymous handling of all data in vehicle and fleet management. DB has held an interest in Trillium since June 2018 through Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures GmbH.
Kepler Communications, a Canadian startup, wants to use a satellite network to make the Internet of Things available worldwide, Kepler plans to launch 140 small satellites, which are about the size of a lunch box, into low earth orbit. Its IoT solution will enable global positioning and allow transmission of data, such as information about the condition of freight being transported through multiple countries by train or truck. Beginning in 2022 Kepler's satellites will allow containers that are in transport to communicate almost in real time via sensors. The benefits for logistics customers include higher quality along the supply chain and seamless consignment tracking, even in areas where there is no cellular network.
Coord is headquartered in New York City and was established in 2016. It runs a mobility data platform that facilitates interoperability among public transportation services and infrastructure. Renowned companies like Google, Zipcar and Mozio have invested in Coord, and as of October 2018, so has Deutsche Bahn. Coord's API suite helps integrate transport options in smartphone apps, company software and autonomous vehicles.
Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures DB DV is investing in the second US-Israeli venture capital fund managed by MANIV Mobility. This is the tenth investment made by DB DV, and the first to be made in a fund.
MANIV is an Israeli venture capital fund based in the USA and Israel that invests exclusively in innovative young start-ups in the mobility sector.
MANIV has a global network and enjoys an excellent reputation internationally. MANIV boasts numerous prominent investors, including Alliance Ventures, Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi's Venture Capital Company, and BMW i Ventures, the BMW Group's venture capital subsidiary.
In addition to financial aspects, DB's participation in MANIV is focused on establishing a partnership that puts DB in contact with relevant start-ups in the mobility and transport sector at an early stage. The partnership with MANIV helps DB DV continue to expand its activities in the USA market while paving the way for relationships with Israeli start-ups.
MANIV's portfolio is focused on funds, including specialists for autonomous driving systems such as drive.ai., cloud-based market specialists for vehicle data, such as Otonomo, and the on-demand mobility platform Ridecell, in which DB DV is also a direct investor.