Ready, steady – grow!

Startup Autobahn 2017

As a pioneer, Daimler is shaping the mobility of the future. To that end, the group of companies is transforming into a digital mobility service provider — and is strengthening its own innovative ability using the entrepreneurial spirit of the startup scene. Our partner Plug and Play is quickening the pace. What is behind this cooperation?



The mobility of tomorrow requires fundamentally new ideas. And the fastest route there is by way of the STARTUP AUTOBAHN. In May 2016, Daimler founded this platform for innovation and cooperation together with the University of Stuttgart, ARENA2036 and the accelerator Plug and Play. Together, the partners are seeking to secure and utilize the innovative advantage in the automotive hub of Stuttgart: Thanks to additional incentives from international and local startups.

Now, even more well-established companies from the areas of mobility and industry 4.0 are on board: Hewlett Packard Enterprise, BASF, ZF Friedrichshafen, Porsche and Murata. Common pilot projects between startups and these partner companies are intended to enable cooperation that is valuable to both sides.

Since a good idea does not lead to success by itself, we want to provide founders with an environment conducive to going full throttle with their business idea. This way they are free to re-imagine mobility of the future.

Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Division.


Plug and Play

Plug and Play is playing an important role at STARTUP AUTOBAHN. The partner is an investor and one of the largest startup accelerators worldwide with a focus on technology. The global network is headquartered in Silicon Valley and includes more than 20 locations. Since 2006, the company promoter and CEO, Saeed Amidi, has been the driving force behind the industry-specific accelerator programs. The group of more than 2,000 founder talents fostered by the company includes global players of today such as PayPal and DropBox.

Quite an honor! Nonetheless, the cooperation began with a classical selection process of the Daimler purchasing team. This was a first for the leading startup accelerator. But, in the end, Plug and Play had appeal in every aspect. The high quality of this collaboration became evident back in February 2017. That is when Plug and Play received the Daimler Supplier Award for promoting digital transformation through the successful launch of a research and cooperation campus together with Daimler.


Startup Autobahn 2017
Innovation in the fast lane: On the first EXPO Day, thirteen selected startups made their pitches in front of investors.

The accelerator programs

Startups from all over the world can apply for a STARTUP AUTOBAHN program. Selected top talents are then invited for Selection Day. On the first Selection Day in July 2016, 22 out of 300 interested founders fought for the seats in the STARTUP AUTOBAHN accelerator program. The winners subsequently prepared for the EXPO Day on the ARENA2036 research Campus. Above all, the founders have benefited from close collaboration with Daimler specialists and from intensive mentoring conversations with top management. Daimler and the entrepreneurs are working together on more than 15 pilot projects. In February 2017, 13 startups presented their results in front of investors and industry. With their support they will be able to further develop their ideas.

The first EXPO Day offered a wide range of topics dealing with mobility of the future

The pitches and the entrepreneurial spirit are right on par with Silicon Valley. The program lives based on its network, its partnerships and, of course, the startups.

Saeed Amidi, CEO of Plug and Play.

A drive for ideas

The first EXPO Day offered a wide range of topics dealing with the mobility of tomorrow, including: connectivity, autonomous driving, digital services, electrification, Industry 4.0. The startups were able to advance their development significantly thanks to the three-month STARTUP AUTOBAHN program. Employees of Daimler’s Group Research and Business Innovation areas were building bridges between the startups and Daimler. On February 10, 2017, 28 new candidates were selected for the program 2. The application process for program 3 has been in progress since January 2017 and the process for program 4 will start in July.

We have been able to recruit talented entrepreneurs with excellent ideas. We will continue to cooperate with some of them. And this will let us advance mobility of the future even faster using landmark technologies and innovations.

Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

Apr 27, 2017
Birgit Hennefarth