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DHL and partners celebrate entrepreneurial spirit at DHL Innovation Day

• DHL hosted over 180 senior supply chain professionals, innovators and start-ups at DHL Innovation Center in Germany

• DHL Innovation Challenges finale: Effidence´s self-driving robot succeeds in inaugural DHL Robotics Challenge; Anne Gross´ ’Air Parcel’ wins the Fair & Responsible award; Celluveyor convinces audience and jury during startup pitch challenge

• Smart’s and DHL Parcel’s ’Smart Ready to Drop’ awarded most innovative customer solution

The prototype from French company Effidence won the DHL Robotics Challenge with votes from an expert jury and the audience.
The prototype from French company Effidence won the DHL Robotics Challenge with votes from an expert jury and the audience.

DHL celebrated forward-thinking pioneers in the logistics arena at its annual DHL Innovation Day. This years’ event highlighted various industry dynamics and challenges from both a social and technological perspective, such as the growing demand for new sustainable solutions as well as the dominant role of automation in future supply chains. It also marked the final stage of DHL’s worldwide call for innovative solutions. Anne Gross, a 5th semester student of Product Design at the Bauhaus University Weimar, and Effidence, a start-up company from France, were awarded for their ideas in the field of fair & responsible logistics and robotics respectively. Smart was awarded for the most innovative customer solution.

“I congratulate all our winners for their innovative ideas and effort to influence the future of logistics. The quality of the ideas and solutions presented during the Innovation Day demonstrates the importance of bringing bright minds together and recognizing them for their hard work,” emphasized Bill Meahl, DHL Chief Commercial Officer.

Applying new technologies in future supply chains

During the past months, DHL placed a worldwide call for innovative sustainable business concepts and robotics prototypes. Out of over 80 submissions from 33 different countries for the Fair & Responsible Logistics challenge, three finalists from Germany, Chile and Singapore pitched their ideas to the audience. Anne Gross’ concept of an innovative packaging solution called ’Air Parcel’ won the 5,000 Euro prize-money and the commitment from DHL to pilot the concept with her.

“DHL’s dedication towards sustainable and environmentally-friendly concepts motivated me to participate. Winning this challenge is a great honor for me and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop the concept with DHL,” stated award winner Anne Gross.

DHL also challenged the world’s leading research institutes and start-ups to build a prototype of a self-driving delivery cart. At the Innovation Day, the chosen finalists put their prototypes to the test through an outdoor circuit, navigating different scenarios ranging from pedestrians to obstacles and different weather conditions. The prototype from French company Effidence won the DHL Robotics Challenge with votes from an expert jury and the audience. The winning team was awarded 10,000 Euro and the opportunity to test and develop the prototype further jointly with DHL.

“We put a lot of passion into our prototype and are proud that it successfully completed the circuit and won the challenge,” said Robotics Challenge winner Eric Ploujoux, Effidence.

Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group, awarded Smart for the most innovative customer solution for the ’Smart Ready to Drop’ last mile delivery solution. Smart partnered with DHL Parcel to jointly develop a service that enables Smart car owners to have their parcels delivered to their car trunk. Beta tests are currently run in Stuttgart, with the next test-phase to be rolled out in Cologne and Berlin.

“Smart Ready to Drop is the beginning of our next drive to further enhance the quality of urban life,” said smart boss Dr Annette Winkler about the great cooperation with DHL. “This is our way of staying true to our pioneering role in urban mobility.”

A day full of challenges and inspirations

A key element of convincing someone to believe in an idea or even invest in it, is the ability to present it. During the DHL Innovation Day, three leading logistics start-ups pitched their solutions in front of Alex von Frankenberg (High-Tech Gründerfonds) Peer Bentzen (Deutsche Post DHL Group) and the well-known German investor Frank Thelen in the DHL Shark Tank. Celluveyor successfully won the confidence of the sharks and the audience and was awarded with a showcase in the Innovation Center’s ’Start-up Hall of Fame’ area which is visible to thousands of senior logistics professionals from various regions and industries.

In addition to DHL’s demanding challenges as well as the shark tank, inspiring keynotes revealed some exciting new insights. Tim Leberecht, author of the international bestseller ’The Business Romantic’ and two-time TED speaker, made a case for a more romantic way of living in business, at the workplace and through different customer experiences. Dirk Heitmann from IBM described the power of artificial Intelligence to fundamentally revolutionize business, whereas Alex von Frankenberg highlighted the rise of logistics startups that are using technology to make supply chains smarter.

“The Innovation Day is not only about providing inspiration but it also acts as a platform to exchange ideas and generate action which is why the challenges took center stage. It’s important to recognize and foster these innovations and we look forward to launching some of the ideas that were presented,” explained Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation.


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