Both Porsche and Axel Springer already have advanced start-up activities. Recently, however, both companies announced that beginning in 2018 they will open a joint start-up accelerator in Berlin.
Axel Springer Digital Ventures, the venture capital arm of the media house, and Porsche Digital will jointly establish a new start-up accelerator in Berlin. The goal is to invest in start-ups in their initial stages. The accelerator is scheduled to start operation in early 2018 and may well include additional partners.
In 2013, Axel Springer launched the Plug and Play accelerator, a joint venture between Axel Springer Digital Ventures and the Plug and Play Tech Center, with the accelerator having already invested in more than 100 portfolio companies to date. In the future, Plug and Play will no longer be a primary investor, but will be focused on looking after the existing portfolio of companies, for example, supporting new rounds of funding or preparing possible exits.
Ulrich Schmitz, Managing Director of Axel Springer Digital Ventures, wants to focus on new projects:
“With Porsche Digital, we are united by the consequences of the current digital transformation and an openness to new business models,” explained Schmitz.
Porsche, on the other hand, wants to widen its focus beyond mobility to include general lifestyle start-ups.
“We want to work closely with founders to implement digital innovations together as quickly as possible,” explained Thilo Koslowski, Managing Director of Porsche Digital.
Porsche wants to build an ecosystem that encompasses the entire industry and helps start-ups in the early stages to develop their ideas.
The pilot project called “Passport” (a sports car and SUV subscription system) shows where the journey is headed for Porsche. Participants in the programme which will initially operate in the US city of Atlanta will have access to eight vehicles for a monthly fee of $2,000 (1,700 euros) and up to 22 different models for $3,000 (2,500 euros). Users will receive flexible access to Porsche vehicles via a mobile app.
Another example of Porsche’s new focus is the investment in the smart living start-up “home-IX”. The founders are working on a neutral interface for smart home applications. They want to link the connected home, cars, mobile devices and digital assistants.
The new cooperation with Axel Springer means that Porsche now has two innovation operations in Berlin. In addition to Porsche Digital, the company operates its Digital Lab in the former Osthafen on Stralauer Allee. Under the new dual leadership of Anja Hendel and Mahdi Derakhshanmanesh, the group plans to the pre-develop IT products which can be used within the Group. Porsche Digital has additional innovation offices in Tel Aviv and Silicon Valley.