Tim Leberecht, author of bestseller “The Business Romantic”

Opening speaker Tim Leberecht, author of bestseller “The Business Romantic”, set the tone for the event with a thought-provoking thesis: with state-of-the-art machines – such as collaborative robots like Baxter – set to outperform human workers at certain tasks, he argued that employers and employees must rediscover a “Byronesque” sense of awe and wonder in business.

Leberecht’s was the first of three inspiring keynotes to offer exciting new insights. Dirk Heitmann from IBM described the power of artificial intelligence to fundamentally revolutionize business; while Alex von Frankenberg, CEO of investment company High-Tech Gründerfonds, highlighted the rise of logistics start-ups that are using technology to make supply chains smarter.

Von Frankenberg also sat on the panel of the DHL Shark Tank, alongside Peer Bentzen of Deutsche Post DHL Group and the well-known German start-up investor Frank Thelen. In a format based on the well-known reality TV show, three logistics start-ups pitched their solutions to the group of investors, with the Celluveyor modular conveying and positioning system winning the confidence of both audience and “sharks”.

Responsibility and robotics

Earlier in the year, DHL launched two innovation challenges inviting inventors and visionaries across the globe to generate new ideas in the areas of sustainable logistics and robotics. 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 Innovation Day audience. Anne Gross, a 22-year-old student from Germany, won €5,000 in prize money for her innovative packaging concept “Air Parcel,” along with a commitment from DHL to pilot the concept.

With the DHL Robotics Challenge, the world’s leading research institutes and start-ups were invited to build a prototype of a self-driving delivery cart. French company Effidence emerged victorious and was awarded €10,000 and the opportunity to test and develop the prototype further jointly with DHL.

Smart solution

The final highlight on the day’s varied agenda was led by Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group, who presented Daimler/Smart with the Most Innovative Customer Solution award 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 the trunk of their vehicle.

As the event came to a close, Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation, reflected on its success. “The Innovation Day is not only about providing inspiration but also acts as a platform to exchange ideas and generate action which is why the challenges took center stage,” he said. “It’s important to recognize and foster these innovations and DPDHL Group looks forward to launching some of the ideas that were presented.”

Published: January 2017

Images: DHL