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Company News, 2018-02-20, 12:00 PM

BeyondConventions: Corporations set challenges for start-ups

The final round of BeyondConventions gets underway at the thyssenkrupp Quarter, Essen today. Under the BeyondConventions format, large German corporations are seeking start-up partners for their digital challenges. thyssenkrupp, innogy, Open Grid Europe, Schacht One (Haniel) and FUNKE MEDIEN NRW, supported by ruhr:HUB, CAMP.ESSEN and Initiativkreis Ruhr, are taking a new approach to cooperation. In November last year the five companies defined challenges from their businesses on the website and called on the international start-up scene to come up with creative solutions. Over 220 entries were received, and 35 start-ups will present their solutions to the corporations on February 20 and 21.

The name BeyondConventions is a good indication of what the five companies are looking for with their respective challenges: Unconventional solutions by creative companies that break new ground. For the corporations, this kind of cooperation with start-ups is a first.

"Initiatives like BeyondConventions are decisive both for the start-up-scene and for the digital economy of our region. By pooling the potentials of innovative new enterprise and established companies, they promote the dynamic development of our economy," said Andreas Pinkwart, Minister for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitization and Energy of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in his address at the BeyondConventions event. thyssenkrupp CEO Heinrich Hiesinger, who opened the event along with the Mayor of Essen Thomas Kufen, emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation in BeyondConventions: "Knowledge alone is no longer enough to create true competitive advantages. Real added value arises when we combine knowledge from different companies and corporate cultures. Only by working together will we be able to successfully shape the digital transformation."

Most of the start-ups taking part in BeyondConventions are from Germany, but there are also entrants from the United States and New Zealand. The solutions they are developing include an app that shows the importance of natural gas for the transition to renewables, a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to help with recruiting, new functions for voice-controlled virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa, and drones that document progress on the construction of industrial plants.

There are no cash prizes, trophies or certificates to be won in BeyondConventions. Instead concrete orders will be placed for the best concept in each case. The challenges are based directly on real work situations at the corporations. The winners will be revealed on February 21, 2018 at #beyondconventions.

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