This has resulted, for example, in the flexible car sharing service car2go, the mobility app moovel and Mercedes me, the digital access into the world of Mercedes-Benz. To mark the anniversary, Daimler is now launching the next phase in the evolution of its innovation process. Business Innovation is becoming Lab1886.

The goal is to move faster from the idea to the product or business model. Lab1886 will act as a new innovation lab with its own incubator and, in addition to the latest hardware and software, will provide qualified personnel to expertly assist Daimler employees with implementation.

Bodo Uebber, Daimler board member responsible for finance said: "Business Innovation has driven forward new ideas and projects that perpetuate the pioneering spirit of our founders and promote a culture of innovation throughout the entire company. This success story will be now continued with Lab1886.

“It means intelligently combining our business with agile methods and an unconventional approach from the start-up world in order to successfully develop new and innovative business models to market maturity."

Lab1886 will work at four sites on three continents: Stuttgart and Berlin in Germany, Beijing in China and Sunnyvale in the US. Under working conditions similar to those at a start-up, Daimler is placing its faith in swarm intelligence at Lab1886. The ideas of individual employees, teams and business units should be implemented quickly and unconventionally. To do this, Lab1886 will have all the necessary infrastructure and expertise as well as ten years of experience in the implementation of new business models. Within this freedom, employees can work in flat hierarchies and a creative atmosphere.

Lab1886 combines the Group-wide know-how with the agility of a start-up and has the freedom to address issues that go beyond the core business. Lab1886 works in three phases: in the first phase, Daimler employees are free to submit their ideas. Using instruments from the start-up world, crowd voting and pitches to the shark tank, ideas are selected for the next phase. Defined criteria are used to check whether an idea has the potential to become a new product or business model. The shark tank is made up of a member of the Board of Management, senior managers from various specialist departments, a representative from the Works Council as well as external venture capital experts.

In the second phase of the innovation process, the incubation phase, the projects selected by the shark tank are piloted and developed to market maturity. The idea generators are supported, for example, by professional mentoring, specialist assistance in complex work steps, use of co-working spaces and workshops, financial support, an inspiring work environment and the development of new prototypes. To enable them to work on this phase, employees are released from their other duties. Following a successful incubation phase, in the third phase, commercialisation, the "young" products or new services must face the challenges of the global market. If an idea or product passes this test and has the potential to become a future business model, it is rolled out. The process concludes with incorporation into the Daimler organisation or a spin-off.

Susanne Hahn, head of Lab1886, said: "With innovative ideas and business models - such as car2go, Mercedes me and STARTUP AUTOBAHN - Business Innovation has demonstrated over the last ten years that innovation is a team effort. By transforming to Lab1886, we are creating a new space in which our internal thinkers, specialist departments and business units can produce first-class innovations in a high implementation environment. We are goal-oriented, professional and act with inspiring team spirit to develop new solutions for the mobility of the future. "

What it can mean to think outside the box is demonstrated by the involvement in an unconventional idea of vertical mobility. By participating in the start-up company Volocopter, Lab1886 will support the development of a new dimension of innovative mobility products and services and learn from collaboration in a new mobility segment. With an innovative urban air taxi service, Volocopter aims to give everyone access to vertical urban mobility.

Mobility in the third dimension is gaining in significance in view of growing urbanisation and significant technological progress in the areas of connectivity, sensors, electrics/battery and drone development. On‑demand urban air transport could play a future role in taking the pressure off inner-city roads while providing an alternative, aerial option. Volocopter has the potential to provide an attractive additional means of transport, especially in urban areas. With its all-electric 18‑rotor powertrain, Volocopter offers emission-free, low-noise and innerurban transport and, in the medium term, automated aerial mobility.

Both a manned and an unmanned version of the Volocopter are planned. The line-up for passenger transport includes the VC100 version for one person, the VC200 for two people and the VC400 as a four-seater. With the uVC100 and the uVC200, two delivery drones of different sizes are planned for the unmanned transport of goods. The Volocopter portfolio is rounded off by the uVC400, a heavy-load drone. At the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt in September, the Volocopter VC200 will be unveiled to the public on a large stage.

Successful business ideas from ten years of Business Innovation

  • car2go: One of the first projects from Business Innovation, car2go is the leading example of the success of the Daimler innovation lab. With the free-floating principle, car2go in 2008 revolutionised the car sharing market. Today, the wholly owned Daimler subsidiary is the international market leader in flexible car sharing. Some 2.7 million customers have used the around 14,000 smart and Mercedes-Benz vehicles over 84 million times. A car2go vehicle is rented every 1.4 seconds somewhere around the world.
  • moovel App: The moovel App is the world's first mobility app, which allows you to search, book, and pay for different mobility options in an application. The moovel Group has set itself the goal of simplifying mobility in the city. Products that are based on the components of the "moovel operating system" now enable more than three million users in Germany and the USA to access on-demand mobility (as of August 2017). On average, moovel has a moovel service every two seconds. In the first half of 2017, these were more than 10 million transactions.
  • Driving aids ex factory: Since 2010, Mercedes-Benz has offered in Germany and since 2011 a globally available, comprehensive package of driving and mobility aids for people with physical handicaps and age-related limitations. This allows people with a handicap to maintain their (auto-)mobility and reach their destination easily and independently.
  • 2nd use battery storage facility: The world's largest 2nduse battery storage facility was connected to the grid in 2016. A total of 1,000 battery systems from second-generation smart fortwo electric drive vehicles are bundled to form a stationary battery storage facility in Lünen in Westphalia, Germany. This completes the battery value creation cycle. The 13 MWh project is a cooperation between Daimler, The Mobility House, GETEC and REMONDIS. Under the roof of Mercedes‑B enz Energy, Daimler now offers private households and companies a resource-conserving, and above all safe, stationary energy storage.
  • VAN2SHARE: In 2013, CAR2SHARE cargo was developed as a digital fleet management and driving management system. Vans can be booked according to the carsharing principle. Intelligent, cloud-based software enables the uncomplicated administration of vehicles, orders and the allocation of drivers. Today, the project is being continued as VAN2SHARE by the Future Transportation segment at Mercedes-Benz Vans. At the locations in Berlin, Koblenz and Munich about 300 vehicles are used.
  • STARTUP AUTOBAHN: As Baden-Württemberg's answer to Silicon Valley in California, Daimler in 2016 collaborated with Silicon Valley accelerator Plug and Play, the University of Stuttgart and ARENA2036 to establish STARTUP AUTOBAHN as the new start-up ecosystem in Stuttgart. In contrast to Silicon Valley with its focus on software, STARTUP AUTOBAHN places the spotlight on both software and, above all, hardware-oriented projects.
  • Mercedes-Benz remanufacturing: Mercedes-Benz offers its customers an attractive range of original Mercedes-Benz parts. These can be used to reduce costs without sacrificing quality. In a careful process, parts that are not functional anymore, are processed and tested according to strict Mercedes-Benz standards in industrial remanufacturing processes. The resulting raw material and energy savings are passed on to customers as a price advantage. The result is a very wide range of cost-effective original parts in the quality of a new part.
  • Space Cowboys: Under the "Space Cowboys – Daimler Senior Experts" initiative, experienced Daimler retirees pass their expert knowledge on to the next generation even after leaving the company.
  • She's Mercedes: She's Mercedes is an initiative in which Mercedes-Benz has since 2015 been addressing women in a targeted manner as part of its "Best Customer Experience" strategy. The aim is to establish the brand with the star as the most attractive premium automotive brand for women and to increase the proportion of female customers by 2020. With the inspiration platform She’s Mercedes, Mercedes-Benz is entering into a more intensive dialogue with women and wants to considerably increase the relevance of the brand for this target group.
  • Mercedes me: Since 2014, Mercedes me has allowed individualised, digital access to the world of Mercedes-Benz. This provides customers and potential customers, also in areas not directly related to the car, with access to the brand, the products and services as well as special lifestyle offerings. The goal of Mercedes me is to make personal mobility as convenient as possible – this applies to a Mercedes-Benz as well as to driving a car2go vehicle or riding in a mytaxi, sharing one's private vehicle with others or mobility planning with moovel.