Posted on 12/06/2017 via BSH Home Appliances Group

The BSH Venture Forum: Matchmaking at its best

The stage is set. Kai Grassie – Head of Corporate Innovation at BSH steps forward to greet everyone. “Welcome to day two of BSH’s Venture Forum,” he says, “today is pitching day!” The BSH Venture Forum is a two-day event which brings the creative minds behind some of the most exciting digital start-ups together with industry professionals here at BSH. This year’s event took place on the 27th and 28th November, in Munich. Here, we meet the event’s organizers and participating start-ups to find out what this event means for everyone involved.

Honoring our commitment to open innovation

For BSH, the idea for the Venture Forum came out of our commitment to open innovation. To us, open innovation among other activities also means working together with innovative start-ups and industry players who have new ideas with the aim of innovating the ways in which we meet our consumers’ needs. This is especially important to us because we know that we can only stay ahead of the digital curve, through pushing ourselves to think outside the box and collaborating with new partners from outside of the company.

As Kai Grassie, our Head of Corporate Innovation says, “we are particularly interested in how our consumers will live in 10 years and are committed to conducting trend research and identifying future scenarios in which our home appliances will be used. For us, open innovation is in this case about looking for the new technologies and solutions out there that satisfy these consumer needs. There are so many players in various industries working to address the same consumer needs, and this event offers us the chance to find some strong, emerging partners to collaborate with.”

This year’s event

The BSH Venture Forum is one such opportunity for us to create long-lasting relationships with new start-ups working on the cutting edge of our industry. This year, we encouraged start-ups working within the fields of sensor systems and artificial intelligence, cognitive systems, home automation, new ways of interaction, or working with services and solutions for New Food and Beverage, to apply. On the first day, the experts from BSH gave all of the participating start-ups individual briefings and valuable feedback about their planned pitches for the following day. Day 2 was presentation day, so each start-up had the opportunity to pitch their products or services on the stage, before receiving questions from the BSH experts. Christian Beck, the project leader behind the BSH Venture Forum, said “the presentations given by all of the start-ups were great, especially since their solutions aligned really well with our interests here at BSH. Not only that, but also the fact that the start-ups focused on how consumers will actually use their offering means that the start-ups looked at the technology through the eyes of the consumer. This helps us all to focus on meeting future consumer needs more precisely.”

The start-ups

Two of the start-ups that joined us in Munich were LiqWiz and Heptasense. American-based LiqWiz is producing an in-line, automated home water quality monitor. Mark Koziol, the co-founder, said, “I came to BSH to find out more about their range of appliances. This is a fantastic opportunity for us, as with this knowledge we can build up a number of scenarios in which our own device could communicate with each of their devices to modify water needs accordingly.” Portuguese-based start-up Heptasense offers a cloud-based service based on APIs which allows companies to analyze the raw data collected by sensors in real-time, to better understand consumers’ patterns of behavior. Ricardo Santos, co-founder, and CEO, said, “I was really excited to see so many people from BSH today, we look forward to collaborating with them.”

Christian Beck, project leader of the BSH Venture Forum; Ricardo Santos, co-founder, and CEO of the Portuguese-based start-up Heptasense; Mark Koziol, co-founder of the American-based company LiqWiz

The ultimate win-win situation

Our BSH Venture Forum is a great opportunity for us to work with these new start-ups and help them, and us, in addressing the future needs of our consumers. It’s also a great opportunity for the participating start-ups, as they have the chance to collaborate with BSH in a number of different ways. Many of these start-ups are working on really exciting solutions, but doing it alone can be very challenging. During the Venture Forum, we offer the chance to enter into partnerships with BSH and its suppliers to further develop their products and services, build on their customer-supplier relationships with us, and in some cases a minority equity investment is offered. It really is a win-win situation for both parties.

The BSH Venture Forum is just one of the many ways we are building the kitchens and homes of tomorrow. To find out more about open innovation at BSH click here.

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