19 Sep 19

Technology start-ups get a boost from WABCO

Commercial vehicle technology innovator WABCO has signed an agreement to become an Anchor Partner with Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist Plug and Play.

The three-year agreement gives WABCO access to Plug and Play’s global network of technology start-ups, market disruptors and industry leaders. Well-known for braking control systems, WABCO will be actively involved in the co-creation of advanced solutions and joint innovations in connected electrification and autonomous commercial vehicle technologies.

Driving autonomous innovation

In a press release, WABCO stated its intention to extend its network and tap into the potential of innovation worldwide. The collaboration will also leverage Plug and Play’s ability to support continued development of WABCO’s Autonomous, Connected and Electric (ACE) vehicle and transport ecosystem.

So far, the ACE initiative has produced a vehicle control system (a joint venture in China with commercial vehicle manufacturer FAW Jiefang), a deal with Baidu to work on autonomous driving level 4 commercial vehicles and an electrified drivetrain in cooperation with Nidec Corporation.

WABCO’s Plug and Play partnership means it joins more than 300 corporate partners worldwide bringing together over 1,100 technology start-ups into the innovation process. WABCO is looking to rapidly grow its Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud-based capability.

The start-up superhighway

The company is keen to participate in Plug and Play’s STARTUP AUTOBAHN, an initiative based in Stuttgart, Germany. This is particularly important for WABCO’s European customers, including founding partner Daimler AG. It bring together young technology companies, the expertise of Silicon Valley and the best of German auto engineering.

Dr Christian Brenneke, WABCO’s chief technology officer, commented: “We continue to invest significantly in expanding WABCO’s digital offerings to include cloud-based IoT technologies, which, combined with advanced connectivity of vehicles and the ecosystem around them, will enable transport operators to make their operations even leaner, greener and safer."

WABCO is sending its Global Head of Technology Scouting, Dr Gandert Van Raemdonck, to host a dedicated, full-time office at Plug and Play’s Silicon Valley HQ. The commercial vehicle technology company will play an active role in Plug and Play’s deal flow sessions, organising and participating in networking and selecting start-ups that will be supported during their incubation period at the facility.

Accelerating the innovation pipeline

Dr Des O’Regan, WABCO director of Product Innovation, explains: “As a global technology leader, WABCO is embracing open-innovation as a key driver of our ongoing success.”

Our goal is to identify and work with start-ups, high growth and larger, established companies and multi-nationals, that can help accelerate our innovation pipeline and product offering.”

It will be exciting to see what commercial vehicle innovations spin out as a result of the agreement.

Authored by: Alison Pittaway