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a real Autobahn.

Unicorns made in Stuttgart.

Zetsche also has an appropriate example to hand – a white, round sign with four black stripes: the sign indicating that speed restrictions are lifted. The Startup Accelerator should offer the freedom to put the maximum energy into one’s own visions. The development of novel business models should be accelerated and innovative services should be established. Zetsche notes that Gottlieb Daimler was a pioneer of anticipatory thinking.
His goal was not to make the world more mobile by breeding quicker horses, but rather he did away with horses entirely so as to tread new paths in terms of acceleration with a motorised carriage. In this spirit, Zetsche left his audience with a clear message of encouragement: ‘Push boundaries. Release the brakes. Hit the accelerator.’

Startup Autobahn is the shortest path between Stuttgart and Silicon Valley. In cooperation with the Plug and Play Tech Center, Daimler is moving innovations into the fast lane that will change the mobility of the future. In his opening speech, Dr Zetsche explains where this journey is taking us.

The mobility of the future.

Location: Stuttgart. The sun shone conceitedly on the Goldberg[werk], where 350 guests from around the world awaited the opening of the Startup Autobahn Accelerator’s first Selection Days. Among them, some of the greats on the international start-up scene, such as Saeed Amidi, founder of the Plug and Play Tech Center, and Hendrik Brandis, founder of VC Earlybird. And they were all waiting for one person: Dr Dieter Zetsche. He took to the stage – the hall erupted.
Zetsche is pleased: 300 start-ups came calling for the Startup Autobahn. And there are now 22 teams of applicants fighting for the favour of the jury and the audience. These are start-ups that have already successfully negotiated the first financing rounds. They come from Brazil, Germany, Finland, Israel and the USA. They are working on solutions for the mobility of the future.

Be it hardware that actually makes cars autonomous or software that communicates between the car and cloud in real time; be they material solutions that make vehicles lighter or business models that open up new markets – the visions for the mobility of the future are varied and the Startup Autobahn Accelerator brings together the best approaches under its roof.

The reinvention of the car.

The Startup Autobahn is not just meant to improve the car; for Zetsche, this is about nothing less than its reinvention. Even if digitisation is clearly dominant here, Zetsche points out that you cannot drive on binary codes. Software alone does not solve problems. Software needs hardware. And the metal cauldron of Stuttgart is not simply the centre of automobility; it is also the crucible for the production of extraordinarily innovative mobility solutions. For Zetsche, Stuttgart is an innovative region steeped in tradition. When he talks about Stuttgart, you’d be forgiven for thinking he is gushing about Silicon Valley.
Saeed Amidi can only agree with him: ‘Stuttgart is one of the leading car and high-tech regions in the world and therefore offers the ideal preconditions for start-ups. (…) Together with our strong partners Daimler, the University of Stuttgart and ARENA2036, start-ups, local businesses and venture capitalists have the best opportunities to find themselves here at Startup Autobahn.’ That’s a real autobahn. A motorway between vision and implementation, between prototypes and marketability, between Stuttgart and Silicon Valley. The Startup Autobahn Accelerator is a milestone for Germany and for Europe. The future of mobility is not just designed here, but implemented.

Thinking out of the box.

It may sound a little German when Zetsche warns that it isn’t all about speed. It is more about efficiency and the appropriate performance input of both sides. Daimler supports those who think and act outside the box. Those who are not restricted by the status quo. Those who willingly compete on the market.