Press Release


ZF gets closer to start-up scene

  • Cooperation with digital start-up accelerator Plug and Play
  • Expanding partnerships with start-ups allows ZF greater innovations in engineering and increased speed to market
  • Focus of potential collaboration on hardware and software related to connected mobility

Friedrichshafen/Sunnyvale (CA), USA. ZF and the digital start-up accelerator Plug and Play have agreed on a strategic cooperation. As „Founding Anchor Partner “, ZF can further expand its network of partners to start-up companies which are active in relevant technology areas.

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ZF gets closer to start-up scene

Plug and Play, located in Silicon Valley, California/USA, is renowned worldwide for connecting start-ups to corporations and invests in over 100 companies every year. With the new cooperation, ZF can build a closer link to young and innovative enterprises dealing with disruptive trends and opportunities related to connected mobility. They will provide valuable input in essential fields of competence, innovation, speed and culture. Furthermore, ZF may also consider long-term cooperations and/or direct investments using “Zukunft Ventures GmbH”, its venture capital company established in autumn 2016.

„The collaboration with Plug and Play helps us to keep an eye on the emerging trends in the digital world and the global scene of start-ups“, says Mamatha Chamarthi, Chief Digital Officer (CDO), ZF Friedrichshafen AG. “Expanding our partnerships with newly emerging start-ups alongside our traditional partners will help us to deliver added value to our customers through enhanced products and services.”

The cooperation offers mutual benefits for the start-ups as well as ZF. As regular contacts are leading project-related work with the company, its divisions and business units, the start-ups gain access to ZF’s domain expertise and industrial know-how. This valuable exchange can accelerate mutual business success. For ZF, the continuous contact could provide ideas as well as new and possibly unconventional solutions. These may not be limited to classical mobility technologies as a significant emphasis is on newly founded companies with competencies in fields like artificial intelligence or connectivity.

„We are taking digitalization seriously. It is a great opportunity to adapt our engineering processes in such a way that they can gain momentum from the digital start-up scene “, explains Mamatha Chamarthi. „The cooperation with Plug and Play and the closer contact to start-ups will have a positive influence on our corporate culture “. Examples of a first exchange are start-up Selection Days with pitches or Hackathons.

Plug and Play was established in 2006 and each year evaluates more than 8,000 start-ups from various technology fields. Some former start-ups like Dropbox or Paypal benefited from the promotion of Plug and Play and have turned into globally well-known companies. Plug and Play Germany GmbH, which signed a contract with ZF, is already intensively connected with the automotive business. Among others, the program “Startup Autobahn” in Stuttgart is a result of a cooperation between Plug and Play and Daimler, the university of Stuttgart and the research factory Arena 2036. Since the beginning of 2017, ZF is also partner of “Startup Autobahn” as well as Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), BASF, Porsche and Murata.


Corina Tews

Technology and Product Communications

+49 7541-77 8238