German tech and engineering powerhouse Siemens is to invest $1bn in a new start-up accelerator called Next47 focused on disruptive ideas, such as the electrification of aviation.
With its name playing on the fact that Siemens was founded in 1847, Next47 will be headed by Siemens’ chief technology officer Siegfried Russwurm initially.
Independent from Siemens but with access to Siemens’ vast resources, it will have offices in Berkeley, Shanghai, and Munich and will cover all regions of the world from these locations.
It will be open to employees as well as founders and external start-ups.
“Siemens itself was a start-up in 1847 – founded in a rear courtyard in Berlin,” said Joe Kaeser, president and CEO of Siemens AG.
“With Next47, we’re living up to our company founder’s ideals and creating an important basis for fostering innovation as we continue Siemens’ development.”
The move follows a decision by Siemens in December to increase the company’s overall investment in R&D by €300m to a total of €4.8bn, including putting €100m towards employee ideas.
Electrification of aviation
The first project at Next47, following an agreement with Airbus in April 2016, will be the electrification of aviation.
The two companies aim to demonstrate by 2020 the technical feasibility of hybrid/electric propulsion systems for small planes to medium-sized passenger aircraft.
Other important innovation fields will include artificial intelligence, autonomous machines, decentralised electrification and networked mobility.
The new unit will also concern itself with blockchain applications that are designed to make data transfer in industry and in energy trading simpler and more secure.
Russwurm said that the new unit will be open to employees as well as to founders, external start-ups and established companies if they want to pursue business ideas in the company’s strategic innovation fields.
“Next47 will provide the freedom to experiment and grow – without the organisational restrictions of a large company.
“Our new unit will rigorously pursue Siemens’ strategy and enable us to tap into disruptive ideas in our core areas of electrification, automation and digitalisation.”