ZF Pitch Night New Ways to New Ideas

At the first ZF Pitch Night in Friedrichshafen, start-ups presented their ideas. In this way, ZF was able to identify possible partner companies.

In the highly dynamic market environment of the mobility industry, speed is a decisive factor when it comes to developing and implementing ideas successfully. That’s why ZF is breaking new ground in order to find solutions for a variety of scenarios. The Group invited more than 50 international start-ups from 15 countries to the ZF Forum for the first ZF Pitch Night in order to get new impetus from the digital start-up scene.

Speed, simplicity, target focus – these ZF-values were palpable in the new event format Pitch Night. The representatives of the invited companies had to illustrate their ideas in a quick and straightforward manner. They were given just a few minutes to present their approaches, business models and projects. The young experts gave pitches on creative ideas in fields including autonomous driving, connectivity, artificial intelligence and robotics. The most promising solutions could be implemented as digital pilot projects at ZF.

Following the presentations, a marketplace offered the companies the opportunity to join the ZF experts in conversation.

Video: First ZF Pitch Night in Friedrichshafen

International attendances

“With ZF Pitch Night, we brought the young, creative and international digital start-up community directly into the Group,” explains Dr. Malgorzata Wiklinska, Head of Digital Ecosystems & Strategic Partnerships and initiator of the event. “It brings us closer to innovation-driven companies that have the capability to provide crucial inspiration in important fields of networked mobility. The passion and power that the teams arrived with really impressed us.” It is possible that the teams with the most promising solutions will now be commissioned to implement a digital pilot project.

In a series of pitches, the fledgling companies were invited to present their ideas on specific problems in day-to-day business or their solutions in the categories of “Artificial Intelligence & Robotics” as well as “Autonomous Driving and Connectivity”. In just three or four minutes, they had to pitch their products convincingly to the ZF jury – CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer, Chief Digital Officer Mamatha Chamarthi and Managing Director of Zukunft Ventures GmbH Torsten Gollewski. Participants included connectivity specialist Savari (USA) and British firm FiveAI, which has carved out a niche in the manufacture of artificial intelligence-based software for autonomous vehicles.

Part of the global digitalization strategy

“Events like ZF Pitch Night boost our collaboration with the start-up community and can also have a positive impact on our corporate culture,” explains Mamatha Chamarthi. “Since we take digitalization seriously, we will also shape our development processes so that we can more quickly benefit from impetus from the digital start-up scene. This will help us to create added value for our customers by enhancing our products and services.”

ZF Pitch Night is part of ZF’s global digitalization strategy. In February the company announced its collaboration with digital start-up accelerator Plug and Play as well as a partnership with the growing innovation platform “Startup Autobahn”.

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