What do Siemens, Open Grid Europe, Emschergenossenschaft, ALDI Süd, innogy, thyssenkrupp, Haniel have in common? They are evolved companies with their own rich traditions. Their history shows that they understand their business and know what they are doing. But they also owe part of their many years of success to their ability to actively respond to changes facing their business models. This is also true when it comes to digital transformation, which requires brand new approaches and solutions. The companies know this. But they also know that there is a whole world of start-ups, entrepreneurs and digital experts out there that have more expertise in digital applications than they do themselves. And so it was with the aim of gaining precisely this expertise that the seven companies came together in mid-February at the home of thyssenkrupp in Essen. Beyond Conventions 2019, featuring over 400 participants, also saw a number of start-ups from across the world flock to the Ruhr area to present their solutions to the previously announced challenges to the companies in attendance, including the Haniel divisions BekaertDeslee, CWS and the TAKKT company KAISER+KRAFT.
“When we first learned of the challenge, we were frankly surprised that there was no viable solution for it yet”, said Malte Burkert, managing director of the Bielefeld and Dortmund-based start-up WAPP. Together with WAPP’s other managing director Mirco Stickan, he promptly applied for CWS-boco’s challenge: a practical app designed to help locate public toilets in cities, ideally with lots of additional information such as availability of baby changing tables and handicap access. The company was impressed with WAPP’s idea and the start-up and CWS are now getting ready to start actually developing the app. Johannes Winterhager, responsible for Complete Washroom Concepts at CWS and with a long-standing interest in hygiene innovations, explained that “WAPP has identified solutions for how to better integrate a toilet finder app into smartphones, for example by using voice assistant or augmented reality. Our aim now is to further develop these opportunities with them.” BekaertDeslee and Kaiser+Kraft struck gold in Essen too:
Collaborating with Solutions4Performance, BekaertDeslee found an experienced partner to develop a marketing AI tool for analysing data from various platforms. Kaiser+Kraft was looking for a self-learning system that automatically collects product data in a wide variety of formats and can prepare this data consistently, and the TAKKT subsidiary found support from the start-up Klarso. “A wealth of start-ups came to us with great solutions and technology ideas as part of our challenge. “In the following weeks, we developed and directly applied the prototype presented at Beyond Conventions together with Klarso, the winning start-up,” said Dirk Knütter, head of the Marketing Services department at Kaiser+Kraft. The event, held for the second time in February, was considered a total success by Knütter, who commented that “the concept of Beyond Conventions works thanks to the hands-on-approach of its challenges and start-ups and, at the same time, it provides inspiration through exciting presentations and testimonials.” Florian Kriependorf, Chief Digital Officer of the stainless steel recycling company ELG, and Martin Huber, who has since moved to the ELG digital unit in Dusseldorf with his own promising start-up ideas, are also positive about the event. Last year, the economic chemist Huber, who actually comes from the plastics industry, won ELG's Challenge with his self-made prototype for the rapid determination of scrap compositions. Beyond Conventions was a complete success for him and his start-up as well as for Haniel's ELG division, as Huber explains in the video:
Haniel actively promotes digital transformation in the Group. Haniel supports and advances this development in the divisions with the help of its digital unit Schacht One. Other key aspects of Haniel’s digital journey include sharing knowledge and exchanging information within and outside the Haniel Group. The Haniel Academy also plays a vital role here, offering activities for all employees. Promoting and participating in major digital and start-up sector events such as Beyond Conventions also bolsters Haniel’s network regarding future issues. Thanks to investments in venture capital funds such as Germany’s largest seed investor for technology start-ups, the High-Tech Gründerfonds, Haniel also enjoys an excellent basis for learning about innovative start-up business models at an early stage.