Startup Autobahn: Stand by, startups worldwide!

There are no boundaries on the search for the hottest startups, and definitely no country boundaries. This is why our STARTUP AUTOBAHN team in Stuttgart is not just looking for attractive startups from the local area.

We also support our colleagues in the continents of Asia and America, drive tuk-tuks to the latest headquarter in India and get involved in the topics of Robot Intelligence and Big Data in the land of unlimited opportunity.

A journey around the world with STARTUP AUTOBAHN…

Departure Stuttgart – Destination Bangalore

India is en vogue! Not just our colleagues from DigitalLife, but also our STARTUP AUTOBAHN team has found this out. The timing is right and we are there. With the DigitalLife Day as the kick-off event, we present the launch of our first STARTUP AUTOBAHN location in India in the same week.

We are looking forward to the new HQ in Bangalore in collaboration with the locations in Pune and Chennai. There, I, Anna Eichner, am responsible for the scouting within STARTUP AUTOBAHN in Stuttgart.

10,000 miles over the sea: Inside India

One thing is quickly evident – India is a breathtaking country full of contrasts. And there is no question, the new emerging country has incredible potential.
In a tuk-tuk searching for the Mercedes-Benz Office in Bangalore, the immense emotion that characterizes this country can be felt immediately. No sign of German orderliness, instead plenty of energy and zest for action and especially the “anything is possible” attitude.

After a chaotic search through India’s streets, we have found our office. It’s a shame that our what3words address system isn’t used here yet; I think we would have found it faster if it was. Despite my German impatience, I really value the friendly, Indian manner on the way to work.

Cruising altitude reached: Indian startup potential

Information, innovation and inspiration are the focus of the DigitalLife Days in India. I am impressed by the spirit and innovation of the Indians, who aim to design the mobility of the future without hesitation. There is huge interest at our booth for our STARTUP AUTOBAHN innovation platform.


And one thing becomes clear – we are in the right place – the quality of local startups is overwhelming! The best example of this is the taxi service startup OLA. A planned fusion with the giant Uber and continuing to tap the Australian market, make OLA the most successful startup in Indian history over the last decade.

Landing: STARTUP AUTOBAHN speaks Hindi

Launching the STARTUP AUTOBAHN with headquarter in Bangalore was a precision landing – at the hub of innovation and inventive spirit in Asia. Together with our Indian colleagues Dharmesh Viswanathan and Rajaganapathy Rajendran, we finalized the joint strategy and were able to meet important stakeholders from the region.

Future search fields for the first program will be IT, Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations as well as Research and Development related topics. With time, and with close cooperation as a basis, the search will then gradually expand to additional areas such as Trucks or Marketing & Sales. The collaboration should also be driven by activating already existing German-Indian cooperation projects from the Daimler departments.

Departure Bangalore – Destination Tuscaloosa

From India, we take a huge leap, 14,635 km over the Atlantic Ocean. Our destination is Tuscaloosa – welcome to sweet home Alabama! Mercedes-Benz US International is not only the production site for our big SUVs such as the GLE and GLS, but also the birthplace of the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) Innovation Challenge.


As the Startup Scouting Partner, I, Kristina Michl, driver of the pilot phase of the current STARTUP AUTOBAHN program in Stuttgart, am there.

10,000 miles over the sea: The Innovation Challenge’s spirit

The Innovation Challenge aims to unite two things: The technical expertise of our MBUSI experts and the out-of-the-box ideas from the startups. For this purpose, nine specific problems were collected from the Production, Logistics and Employee Services departments in the plant – for example, looking for intelligent augmented reality solutions to support assembly line workers with complex assembly operations.

Cruising height reached: Tuscaloosa in action

What makes the MBUSI Innovation Challenge special? Speed – and improvisation talent where needed! Planning, kickoff, acquiring sponsors, scouting, sorting over 100 registrations, online webinars, semi-final in the plant, pitch training and finally the grand finale with 9 startups – all this takes place in just under two and a half months. Admittedly, two and a half intense months – but the result is impressive! Hats off to Lisa Evans and her MBUSI innovation team who passionately fought for making this challenge a success.

Landing: And the winner is

On June 19 it was time: Nine finalists took to the stage for four-minute pitches. The decision was visibly difficult for the jurors, resulting in their spontaneous decision to double the prize money and nominate two winners: The two startups doks. innovation (intelligent inventory taking using drones) and AutoMap (locating vehicles using Bluetooth) will each receive up to 50,000 dollars for a pilot project at MBUSI.

Departure Tuscaloosa – Destination Stuttgart

As we are coming in to land in Germany again, there is one more important announcement: Dear passengers, please note our upcoming EXPO Day program #4 on July 19 in the Carl-Benz Arena in Stuttgart. STARTUP AUTOBAHN will be formally presenting the results of the last 30 pilot projects from all industrial partners. What have 100 days of cooperation between startups and our Daimler departments achieved?

Find out for yourself! Just write us a short teaser explaining why you should be there and maybe you will soon have your hands on one of 10 green cards for the event. We look forward to your message at:

The article was written by Anna Eichner, Management of Research Cooperations of STARTUP AUTOBAHN Stuttgart, in collaboration with Kristina Michl. Agile working methods and a natural spirit of innovation are characteristic for the two colleagues. With the “anything is possible" attitude, the two women confidently work for successful projects of the innovation platform STARTUP AUTOBAHN.