BeyondConventions: Start-up power for our digital future!

Corporate culture | Digitalisation and industry 4.0 | trends of technology | On February 20 and 21, 2018, the final round of a very special digital event got underway at our thyssenkrupp Quarter in Essen. According to the motto "Fail fast and fail cheap", we sought out bold start-ups that offer creative solutions for our digital challenges from our business. Why? Because innovative ideas are best created by working together. Here's a review report.

In November 2017, together with four corporate partners, we sought out start-ups using the platform beyondconventions.de. On the platform, we defined challenges from our businesses and called on the international start-up scene to come up with creative solutions for various challenges, ranging from a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to help with recruiting to drones that document progress on the construction of industrial plants. Every start-up that was convinced to have a solution for one of the challenges had the chance to apply. Many did.

The start-ups presented their concepts to the corporates in seven-minute-long pitches.
The start-ups presented their concepts to the corporates in seven-minute-long pitches.

We received over 220 entries. Finally, we invited 35 start-ups to present their solutions to the corporations on February 20 and 21 in Essen. While most of the start-ups who took part came from Germany, there were also digital talents from the United States and New Zealand. We didn’t offer any cash prizes, trophies or certificates; it has been a win-win situation for both sides. Because the best concepts in each case are expected to lead to concrete orders and co-operation. Both the Digital Lab #tkGarage as well as the hackathon #hack4tk 2017 have already proven in the past that partnerships between creative young entrepreneurs and thyssenkrupp can be very promising and successful.

At BeyondConventions, start-ups met corporates and experts in a perfect environment.
At BeyondConventions, start-ups met corporates and experts in a perfect environment.
Ideas come to life! In a chilly atmosphere, young digitals got the chance to talk to their challenge owners and other business representatives directly.
This is where ideas come to life! In a chilly atmosphere, young digitals got the chance to talk to their challenge owners and other business representatives directly.
Networking at its best: Between keynotes, pitches and challenge presentations, the participants found enough time to have fruitful conversations with partner and their kind.
Networking at its best: Between keynotes, pitches and challenge presentations, the participants found enough time to have fruitful conversations with partner and their kind.
You're getting hungry at developing gold ideas. Good that the culinary specialties of BeyondConventions satisfied the highest demands too.
You're getting hungry at developing gold ideas. Good that the culinary specialties of BeyondConventions satisfied the highest demands too.

Completing the picture of BeyondConventions were key note speeches from experienced guests in the digital world such as Andrew Goldstein (Managing Director of Deloitte Digital), Andreas Winiarski (Partner of start-up accelerator EarlyBird), Konstantin Mehl (founder of food delivery specialist Foodora) and Steffen Kramer (Industry Manager B2B of Google Germany).

For start-up guru Andreas Winiarski, BeyondConventions is a win-win scenario for both corporates and start-ups.

Deloitte’s digital expert Andrew Goldstein has a clear understanding of why BeyondConventions is an exceptional event.

Convincing pitches

In their seven-minute-long pitches, practically all the 20 start-ups for the thyssenkrupp challenges convinced us with their unconventional ideas. With eight of them, we are now planning to work together on pilot projects or jobs:

When the name says it all: Presenting
When the name says it all: Presenting "Botential", happy winner of thyssenkrupp's HR Chatbot challenge.

Next Stop for start-up Orbica? Cooperation!

For „BeyondConventions“ the New Zealand start-up Orbica had set off, too. And in the end, it wasn’t just worth it for the young company. The start-up decided for the drone challenge. “On our construction sites, we have to measure construction progress at regular intervals. This takes a lot of time because we do the check manually. So we compile data, walk across the site and look at the buildings. We knew there had to be a more efficient solution,” said Benjamin Berndzen, who works for thyssenkrupp’s industrial division.

Europe director for Orbica, Peter Rose and CEO Kurt Janssen (both at the right) on the BeyondConventions stage.
Europe director for Orbica, Peter Rose and CEO Kurt Janssen (both at the right) on the BeyondConventions stage.

In a seven-minute pitch at BeyondConventions, Orbica presented a way to automate this process and save time and labor costs. “We fly a drone over the construction site and take pictures with it. We combine these with our 3D modeling techniques and artificial intelligence and can thus document all changes to the buildings very accurately,” explained Peter Rose of Orbica.

A concept that works. “Orbica presented the most convincing solution at BeyondConventions,” says Berndzen. That is why the first pilot project was carried out just a few weeks after BeyondConventions. With success. Together the feasibility of the idea could be shown. The system works. A deeper cooperation is therefore being planned.

Start-ups talk about their success

What is so great about their own start-up? Why is BeyondConventions so attractive for aspiring digital minds? And how do they celebrate their victory? In our short interviews, we have asked some of the winning start-ups exactly these questions.

Felix Friemann of “logarithmo”

Carsten Dolch of “Foxbase”

Start-up power for a digital revolution

The name BeyondConventions itself is a good indication of what we and our partner companies were looking for with the event: unconventional solutions by creative thinkers that break new ground – and a new way of cross-cutting co-operation. Because only by working together we will be able to successfully shape the digital transformation. On stage, Andreas Pinkwart, State Minister for Economic Affairs, Digitization, Innovation and Energy of the state North Rhine-Westphalia stressed the enormous potential of cooperating start-ups and established companies for the digital future too. Because knowledge alone is no longer enough to create true competitive advantages. Combining knowledge from different companies and corporate cultures is of the essence.

NRW minister Andreas Pinkwart was completely thrilled by the energy and atmosphere of change he had experienced at the digital event.
NRW minister Andreas Pinkwart was completely thrilled by the energy and atmosphere of change he had experienced at the digital event.

All in all, BeyondConventions is meant to usher in a new form of solution-oriented collaboration. An era of not just talking about the digital transformation, but living it alongside agile and creative start-ups. The aim is to break up old structures and in turn, to implement new concepts flexibly and quickly. In short: With BeyondConventions, we turn digitalization into deeds.

That’s why the digital event will come back again on February 12th and 13th, 2019.

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