From Virginia to Böblingen – Country roads lead to Baden-Württemberg

by | Dec 11, 2018 | Corporates & Start-ups

DXC Technologies is a corporate from Virginia, USA, who have their German headquarters in Böblingen, right in the heart of Baden-Württemberg. They are partners of the German STARTUP AUTOBAHN, at home near the Stuttgart University. We interviewed Innovation Program Manager for Industry 4.0 Manuel Meyer about the corporate.

As a corporate, what do you expect from start-ups?

DXC Technology is a leading IT services provider that aims to support its clients in their digital transformation. In this context, it is key for us to be at the forefront of developments in innovation across various industries. To capitalize on the explosive advances in technology, we set out to build an ecosystem of new partnerships with startups in order to create new and meaningful business solutions. In the future, the companies that can build and maintain a network of innovation partners are the ones that will succeed in the digital transformation. We provide this ecosystem to our clients.

Therefore, we don’t look for startups as suppliers to DXC Technology. In fact, we seek strong partners with a joint vision: building a trustful, honest, transparent, proactive, and focused partnership, with the objective to jointly help our clients become digital pioneers in their field. To establish this relationship, we have set up a transparent path along with a dedicated team that guides startups through this process:

Selection: we look for startups that solve a concrete and relevant business need in our clients’ industries, which we can complement with our DXC services, resources and integration capabilities to build a strong value proposition.

Technology Testing: in a set time frame of 100 days, we work on joint prototypes to test our vision, technology interoperability between the startups’ and DXC’s solution, and the cultural fit. During this phase, we work as one team and solve the challenges together.

Testing a Proof of Concept with Customers & Partners: at this stage, we test the joint solution in a real-world environment by engaging customers or partners that are interested in this topic.

Onboarding as DXC Innovation Partner: After successful completion of the previous steps, we onboard the startup as a partner and discuss a joint go-to-market strategy.

How do you see Baden-Württemberg as a hub for innovation and start-ups?

Innovation happens when deep expertise meets new ideas and possibilities. It is especially powerful when this can happen in areas with the ability to scale. I believe that Baden-Württemberg is a hub that is uniquely positioned to facilitate exactly this. Looking at Baden-Württemberg as a startup ecosystem, it is smaller in terms of the number of startups and more focused in terms of the topics than other internationally renowned hubs like Berlin, Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv. This doesn’t attract as many investors compared to other hubs that could help scale the businesses.

However, startups here benefit from the prosperous legacy of world-class industry excellence based on a landscape of leading enterprises and hidden champions, more diverse and impactful than any other. These companies, headquartered in this region, got to where they are now through their engineering acumen and willingness to push the boundaries of innovation. In times of constant change and disruption, they are looking for startups that help them innovate their business and stay ahead of the game.

This is the perfect ground for startups in the Baden-Württemberg region. There are ecosystems evolving around this concept of bringing the startups together with the corporations in this region. This helps startups to benefit from the unique characteristics of the region by getting access to key stakeholders at these companies that can potentially be a startup’s customer at scale. For example, Startup Autobahn, which emerged to be Europe’s leading innovation platform in only about 3 years, or ARENA2036 are two great examples that show how this can be operationalized.

What makes Startup Autobahn and ARENA2036 different from all the other innovation platforms?

Both Startup Autobahn and ARENA2036 are unique concepts themselves. ARENA2036, a research campus focused on the car and the factory of the future, allows its partners to explore the future of the automotive and manufacturing industries. With a long spanning time horizon, it is possible to think outside of existing boundaries and explore radically new ideas. The collaborative nature and the ability to integrate startups as partners in the research projects is one striking argument for us as DXC Technology to engage here.

On the other side, Startup Autobahn’s focus is on the collaboration with startups and existing technologies. In my opinion, Startup Autobahn differentiates itself from other innovation platforms through the focus on prototyping and execution. Whereas other innovation platforms focus primarily on identifying startups or supporting them to find the right business models or go-to-market strategies, Startup Autobahn continues beyond this with the objective of connecting startups with the relevant business units of the corporate partners to pursue joint projects within a 100-day program. Through this, we as a partner can focus our efforts on testing the relevant technologies and getting to know the startups on a very detailed basis, which allows us to form successful innovation partnerships.

The exciting part about ARENA2036 and Startup Autobahn is that these two collaborative, cutting edge innovation platforms are combined under one roof. This brings together the concept of long-term research and the agility of technology startups, creating a space with a large set of engaged partners, and diverse backgrounds and viewpoints

Baden-Württemberg is the perfect ground for startups

How will a good start-up idea be implemented in DXC – doesn’t the small start-up get lost?

Two things: our approach and the nature of our organization.

Our Approach: as already mentioned earlier, we are building an ecosystem of innovative solutions based on our startup partners that supports our clients in their digital transformation. Startups bring their deep expertise in the specific field of their solution to the table, which we can complement with our DXC capabilities. We strongly believe in the power of collaboration, which is what we also aim to represent in our joint-go-to market. Therefore, we work together on solutions and give the startup access to our client and partner network.

Our Organization: the DXC Digital Services Innovation Team for North and Central Europe is a unit within DXC Technology that is specifically set up to support the startups in accessing the right departments and stakeholders within DXC Technology. The team helps the partner to build processes including a technical evaluation, the training of resources, and the go-to-market planning, and as such ensures the success of the collaboration.

To conclude, our startup partners, small or at scale, have great ideas and we make sure that great ideas don’t get lost but help our clients to successfully thrive on change!

Manuel Meyer is Innovation Program Manager at DXC Technology, responsible for the Industry 4.0 innovation activities within North and Central Europe. He identifies, tests and scales new technologies to help customers embrace the power of new ideas within their existing business framework. In addition, Manuel manages the partnerships with the innovation platform STARTUP AUTOBAHN and the research campus ARENA2036