Get away for open innovation

Journal Winter 2022 Situation

Working with an open company accelerator program permits Mercedes to extra shortly incorporate new applied sciences from startups.

Dennis Bateman, Ferran Giones, Alexander Brem, and Philip Guntting

Studying Time: 12 Minutes

Picture courtesy of Daniele Garcia /

Mercedes-Benz AG produces over two million passenger vehicles yearly for a worldwide market that’s on the verge of transformation. Automakers are assembly new calls for for electrification and connectivity, new opponents are rising, and new expectations from clients, resembling the will for sustainable mobility. All these tendencies are growing the necessity to speed up innovation in each side of the automotive business.

In 2016, R&D and digital enterprise managers at Mercedes’ headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, realized that their efforts to collaborate with startups – a beneficial supply of exterior innovation – had been being hindered by the corporate’s current innovation processes. These processes had been too targeted on inside growth and ready-to-implement options offered by the corporate’s established base of suppliers and weren’t nicely suited to unsure collaborations with promising know-how startups. The corporate wanted an innovation route that may allow startups to extra successfully combine into the primary R&D course of and cut back the time required to establish, develop, take a look at and implement their most promising applied sciences and options.

In response, a brand new crew was fashioned inside R&D to create a greater bridge between the promising concepts of exterior startups and the innovation wants of Mercedes’ inside enterprise items. The crew labored carefully with companions from academia and business to determine the startup Autobahn, as we open company accelerator (CA). In contrast to a standard company accelerator – normally arrange by an organization for its personal revenue – an open CA welcomes a number of sponsor corporations and may entice a wider vary of extra mature startups. This mannequin a. also referred to as union acceleratorImproves sponsor entry to exterior innovation and enhances the general competitiveness of regional ecosystems.1

The startup Autobahn is operated by the Plug and Play Tech Heart on the ARENA2036 analysis campus of the College of Stuttgart. Since its inception, it has attracted over 30 giant company sponsors (purchasers for startup options), together with automotive OEMs and suppliers, in addition to corporations from different industries resembling IT, logistics and chemical substances. This has enabled Mercedes, in its position as a sponsor, to display screen 1000’s of startups, execute over 150 pilot initiatives and implement 17 modern options.

For instance, Mercedes has teamed up with a startup known as What3Words to develop a voice-activated navigation system that guides customers to specific places by dividing the world into 57 billion 3-metre squares.


1. s. Moschner, A.A. Fink, S. Kurpjuvet, et al., “In the direction of a Higher Understanding of the Company Accelerator Mannequin,” Enterprise Horizons 62, no. 5 (September-October 2019): 637-647.

2. JP Eggers and KF Park, “Present Adaptation to Technological Change: The Previous, Current and Way forward for Analysis on Heterogeneous Incumbent Response,” Annals of the Academy of Administration 12, no. 1 (January 2018): 357-389.

3. RK Shankar and DA Shepherd, “Accelerating Strategic Match or Enterprise Emergence: Totally different Paths Adopted by Company Accelerators,” Journal of Enterprise Enterprise 34, no. 5 (September 2019): 1-19.

4. s. Falk and F. Riemensperger, “Three classes from Germany’s platform economic system,” MIT Sloan Administration Evaluate, August 5, 2019,

5. Okay. Prexl, M. Hubert, S. Beck, et al., “Identification and evaluation of drivers of heterogeneity amongst ecosystem builder accelerators,” R&D Administration 49, no. 4 (September 2019): 624-638.

6. It’s enabled however not decided by the open CA mannequin. Some sponsors within the Startup Autobahn select to speculate fairness in startups.

7. KJ Boudreau and KR Lakhani, “Methods to deal with exterior innovation,” MIT Sloan Administration Evaluate 50, no. 4 (summer season 2009): 69-76.

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