When, a few years ago, I met for the first time Stefan Maurer, Director & Head of Daimler Future Transportation@Vans, was impressed by how they were looking at innovation: totally outside of the core business.

Our expectation was to run scouting related to automotive. What they were looking for was new transportation technologies (drones and robots), innovative delivery systems (including automatized last mile delivery), portable cooling systems, …

What was an unusual request a few years ago, today is the norm. Nowadays, most of the scouting requests from our corporate customers refer to areas and verticals that are outside of the core business.

Not surprisingly, we see insurance and energy companies looking into the mobility area, oil & gas companies investigating circular economy, utilities assessing payment solutions…

While it was initially perceived as a tool to foster incremental innovation (despite the PR announcement that might say something different), Open Innovation is today considered as THE WAY to diversify your business.

That’s why I invited Stefan to join him in a fireside chat during the last Scaleup Summit in Stuttgart. Sharing insights and learning from the multi-annual experience of a front runner such as the Transportation Unit of Daimler Vans might help other companies that today have just started (or are about to start) a similar journey.

With Stefan we discussed about:

  • The strategic approach of Transportation Unit in Daimler Vans
  • The joint-venture (ViaVan) Daimler created with the US startup Via Inc.
  • Some innovative solutions ViaVan launched in on-demand transit and transportation as a service (such as BerlKonig).
  • The innovative service of drones parcel deliveries Daimler Van set-up with the startup Matternet and piloted in Zurich in 2017 (ready to be deployed as regulation will allow).
  • The learning they gathered through other pilots such as the Estonian Starship Technologies (parcel delivery through robots and vans)
  • The main key take-aways from few years of co-developing innovations with startups

Get more in this video!