We’ve seen a lot lately of car companies sidling up the technology world and vice versa. Consider Ford’s Open Developer Program for instance. But today, three big companies get involved in startups, one of them being the huge Mercedes-Benz. It, along with industrial giant Bosch and insurance company HDI, are partnering with tech accelerator Startupbootcamp in Berlin to create a new kind of accelerator vehicle called SBC2go.
This new project will support a selection of start-ups in a 3 month program open to any startup team globally. Ten teams will be selected and given €15,000 investment, free office space and support and access to a global network of mentors. Given the nature of the partners, the program focus areas are Mobility, Connectivity, and Big Data. The idea, they say, is to tap into the innovation driven by early stage, nimble start-ups which are normally below the radar of global companies.
With Mercedes-Benz, Daimler has a number of initiatives already such as the car sharing service car2go which has over 7,000 vehicles in 18 cities on the road in Europe and North America.
Dr. Frank Spennemann from Daimler lab and Mercedes-Benz says partnering with Startupbootcamp Berlin will “accelerate our access to innovation and will plug us into an impressive community of alumni, mentors and investors. At the same time we support start-ups in developing business ideas and increase their market value. Due to our global presence we can open doors to new markets.”
HDI is part of the Talanx Group, one of the major insurance groups in Germany and Europe with premium income of €26.7 billion (2012) and more than 22,000 employees. Its interest in the project stems from its stake in insurance concepts based on telematics – so think cars, insurance and big data and you’ll get the drift. Gerhard Frieg there says “Mobility, connectivity and big data are a top priority in this environment and that’s why we’re partnering with Startupbootcamp.”
Robert Bosch Venture Capital has invested in 14 start-ups since it was established in 2008 and Bosch itself has invested about €50 billion in its own research and development over the last 20 years. As you can imagine SBC2go is a little more affordable.
Dr. Claus Schmidt there will partner on the programme. He says software development for the interconnection of devices and systems is now a “focal point of research and advanced engineering work at Bosch. The internet of things and services gives rise to a large number of new business models, which will form a network of extremely diverse services. Bosch intends to exploit this potential for growth.”
Startupbootcamp Berlin is led by Alex Farcet, who co-founded Startupbootcamp and launched its initial program in Copenhagen in 2010. Farcet says part of the deal will be do do with the huge global reach of these companies: “This is a game changer for the Berlin program. We now have the resources and global reach to have an impact on innovation in the fields of Connectivity, Mobility and Big Data. Collectively Mercedes-Benz, HDI and Bosch have well over 10,000,000 likes on Facebook, and they have passionate followers who care deeply about their products.”
Applications for Startupbootcamp Berlin are open until June 2, 2013. Start-up teams can apply here and the program runs from August to October and concludes with an Investor Demo Day.