Lab1886. The global innovation machinery

Innovation was and is one of the main drivers of the sustainable success of Daimler. Lab1886 was established in 2007 as Daimler Business Innovation. Since then, the lab has supported the company with innovative business models to master the challenges of the future.

The best innovation ecosystem.

Innovation is the venture of turning the visions on their heads, questioning existing principles and knocking them down if needed. This requires courage, perseverance and a place to tinker – a garage, for example. When Gottlieb Daimler left Gasmotorenfabrik Deutz, nobody had any idea that he would reinvent mobility in a garage in 1886.

Lab1886 Contactcontinues the tradition of this culture of innovation. It is the nucleus of a global innovation ecosystem where new business models are conceived, tested and made fit for the market. Many of the business models that are firmly rooted in the company today were created here – for example, car2go, moovel, She´s Mercedes or the Mercedes-Benz energy storage system. It is therefore no wonder that we are in first place among the leading innovation labs in Germany.

The global talent factory.

Lab1886 has a magnetic attraction for talents from the Daimler Group and from all over the globe. As a global innovation network, it has long since become an established force in the innovation centers of this world: with locations in Stuttgart, Berlin, Beijing and Sunnyvale in California.

For one thing, this comes courtesy of the strong team spirit of the employees. Anyone working here knows: innovation is only possible collectively. For another, it is the unconventional way in which we here develop innovative business models from new ideas. Only the best ideas have a chance of being advanced. Defined milestones and transparent processes structure the work in the incubator. If an idea does not stand this stress test, it is discarded – for example, if the project isn't scalable or conceivably does not lead to the desired success. In this way, Lab1886 combines the knowledge of the corporate group with the speed and culture of startups in an intelligent way.

The philosophy of Lab1886.

Innovation is not by chance. Innovation follows a plan. Driven by the passion to make the unimaginable possible, people experiment with the known and put it together in new ways. To this end, Lab1886 has its own philosophy divided into three consecutive phases: ideation, incubation, commercialization.

The individual functions in detail:

The start of every innovation process is the genesis of ideas. Based on global challenges, social trends and self-defined goals, we develop hypothetical potential solutions in the team. These ideas are then tested during a kind of incubation phase and discussions about an in-house crowdsourcing platform are held with the Daimler workforce. The best proposals of the crowd as well as other highly promising ideas of the business units then go into the shark tank, where a jury of experts decides whether an idea will be pursued further.

The ideas selected by the shark tank are now tested for feasibility and scalability. The teams around the idea provider are given additional support to this end in the form of coaching, mentoring by outstanding executives, own co-working spaces and workshops, as well as financial support. In this inspiring work climate, we use short-term sprints to jointly develop new prototypes and design effective pilot projects.

Projects that proved to be strong and viable are then commercialized. In this final step, the still infant products or still unknown services are readied for the challenges on the global market. If the vision endures and has the potential to change the mobility of the future, it is either rolled out by being transferred to the line organization or even realized by founding a spin-off.

The global innovation machinery

Like STARTUP AUTOBAHN, Lab1886 is a central authority in the global innovation network of Daimler AG. They are two mutually complementary concepts. Both work along the four basic pillars of the new corporate strategy CASE, at whose center is the mobility of the future. We define it based on four focal topics: Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Service and Electric Drive.

STARTUP AUTOBAHN is a kind of assessment center that takes a close look at and supports independent startups from outside the company. Lab1886 is the matching counterpart – comparable to a trainee program – which as the global incubation network focuses more on the own employees and the most disruptive ideas. Only the best are ideas and talents are fostered – in-house as well as externally. As a result, ideas generated by STARTUP AUTOBAHN or one of our some 280,000 employees can also be introduced to the incubator, which are now to be translated into real business models. Collectively, they support the transformation of Daimler AG from automaker to the leading mobility provider of the future.

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