Pitching ZF

Gary S. Vasilash

As vehicles become more automated, the technology that’s going to make that happen—hardware and software alike—is more than likely going to come from the supply base, not from the OEMs.

And suppliers that recognize that there is a need to shift from a focus wholly on things like brakes and axles and stampings and suchlike to technologies that are more oriented toward things that they may not be familiar with.

So how do you discover these things?

zf

Tips on pitching tech ideas were given at ZF Pitch Night by Uwe Horstmann, founding partner of the international venture capital firm Project A.

Last week ZF Friedrichshafen AG has taken a page from, perhaps, TechCrunch and held at its headquarters in Germany “ZF Pitch Night.”

There, 57 companies from 15 countries went on stage and presented ideas for things ranging from artificial intelligence to robotics in quick elevator pitches lasting three to four minutes.

Those who were deemed to be most promising by a panel of judges consisting of ZF CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer, ZF Chief Digital Officer Mamatha Chamarthi, and Torsten Gollewski, Managing Director of Zukunft Ventures GmbH, received a digital pilot project or a meeting with company management.

Explained Chamarthi, “We take digitalization seriously. We want to design our development processes in a way that allows us to tap into new stimuli from the digital start-up scene more quickly and create value added for our customers by upgrading our products and services.”

And Dr. Malgorzata Wiklinska, head of Digital Ecosystems & Strategic Partnerships at ZF (and just having someone with a title like that shows how serious ZF is about this), said of this first Pitch Night, “It brings us closer to innovation-driven companies that have the capability to provide crucial inspiration in important fields of networked mobility. The passion and power of the teams at the launch seriously impressed us.”

For a long-time automotive supplier to hold an event like this seriously impresses us.