Deutsche Bahn launches new startup project

Germany’s national railway operator, Deutsche Bahn, has launched a new venture aimed at helping digitally-focused rail start-ups realise their potential. Through its Digital Venture GmbH, DB says it wants to give entrepreneurs – both in-house and externally based – a helping hand to access services and funding that will help them to realise their business goals.

DB says it wants to enable better use of its ‘treasure trove of data’ and take advantage of the opportunities made possible by digitalisation beyond its core business. The new venture, they add, makes it possible to provide start-ups with stronger and faster support and to simplify the acquisition of interests in companies.

The new company’s portfolio will include the car-pool service CleverShuttle, a Berlin start-up in which DB has had an interest since 2015. Managing the venture is Manuel Gerres, formerly of Swiss Railways, and Boris Kuhn. A portfolio manager will also soon be introduced.

It builds on the work already being done through DB’s Accelerator program, based at the Mindbox co-working space in Berlin. DB Accelerator is at the centre of DB’s collaboration with start-ups and is gradually being expanded. It fosters young entrepreneurs by providing three-month workshops, mentoring, jobs at DB Mindbox and up to 25,000 Euros in start-up funding.

The four accelerator rounds completed so far have led to contact with over 400 German and international start-ups. Start-ups and company founders also have access to Deutsche Bahn’s open data portal, which the DB Mindbox team frequently uses for the increasingly popular ‘hackathons’. Programmers, hackers and developers who are interested in participating are given access to extensive infrastructure and timetable data at data.deutschebahn.com, which they can use to develop new products and services for DB customers.

Dr Rüdiger Grube, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO of Deutsche Bahn, said: ”We want to be a driver of digitalisation and actively help shape the digital future of mobility and logistics.

“Our new digital ecosystem is planting the seeds for even greater innovation and new company values, which will ultimately benefit our core business. Digitalisation is only an indirect route to technical progress. It means progress for customers, which makes it crucial for the sustainable business success that we will continue to pursue through our DB2020+ strategy, even in the digital age.”

Interested in railway startups? Then visit the Startup Fest at RailTech Europe 2017 on 28, 29 and 30 March in the Netherlands.

Author: Simon Weedy

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