betahausX and Deutsche Bahn cooperate on establishing a successful corporate innovations program

In 2015, betahausX started to provide support to Deutsche Bahn in laying down the foundations of its now highly-successful innovation program DB mindbox. Companies that are part of DB mindbox contribute with their solutions and expertise in DB’s company-wide digitalization push. betahausX has provided continuous support to the mindbox team and to companies that participate in its 100-day program.



  • Together with the DB mindbox team and DB executives, bX formulated the processes and checkpoints of the 100-day program, which is the main talent-aggregating vehicle. 
  • Hundreds of companies from Germany and abroad have applied to enter the program, with the hope of reaching the accelerator for pilot testing and a grant of 25,000EUR.
  • bX provides continuous support with professional network access and open calls for startups/scaleups since 2015.

The need for a digitalization push

Deutsche Bahn’s (DB) mindbox is a successful startup program whose mission is to harness the entrepreneurial and technological talents of startups and scaleups in responding to emergent challenges and opportunities in the transportation sector.

DB is Europe’s largest railway operator and has multiple business units, including international transport. The focus of its in-house accelerator is to speed up the rate of adoption of technologies whose implementation has been demonstrated as viable during the 100-day program and final pitching competition.

DB has made the decision to digitalize, modernize or otherwise improve its different business and infrastructure units. The undertaking includes but is not limited to the areas of construction technology, track operations and maintenance, regional traffic and human resources. 

The following is one example that can illustrate why DB wants to integrate high-level solutions from external companies. 

According to Deutsche Bahn, half of its more than 8,000 infrastructure maintenance technicians are due to retire by 2026. Obviously, this creates a race with time in respect to the adoption of new technologies across the board. 

The pressure is on for DB to bridge the emergent gap between implementable technological innovations and the inevitable shifts in the workforce or in respect to infrastructure or at the consumer’s end. 

From the time when DB mindbox and betahausX entered cooperation, the accelerator has attracted hundreds of applications from companies through its open calls. Mindbox has maintained a successful rate of launching and completing at least three calls per year since 2018.

One of the companies (KONUX) that were part of the 100-day program continued to implement its technological innovation which avails autonomous monitoring of switches along the DB railway network. Another company, the Berlin-based SIUT, creates concrete-made floor elements that can emit LED-based lights which will be tested in Südkreuz station in Berlin to display warning signals towards improving passenger safety. 

As it has been the case, companies that “graduate” the 100-day program are onboarded in the mindbox accelerator from where they can test and advance their solutions with the help of DB mentors directly on the infrastructure, railway network or train station. 

betahausX delighted that mindbox’s demonstrated success can be traced back to the betahaus coworking space where our team and experts from our network helped to develop the program and provided coaching to the startups. 


In 2015 Deutsche Bahn made the first move towards reinventing its in-house business accelerator in Berlin. The company turned to betahausX for consultations about how to establish and successfully run an acceleration program that can attract innovative companies from Germany and abroad. betahausX eagerly responded to the call.

Our team developed the structure of the 100-day program, which has proven successful and is still in use by the mindbox accelerator. Together with experts from our network we provided support for each company during the program. The initial onboarding phase includes team building activities, 1:1 meetings, assignments and building relationships between the relevant DB unit and each company. 

By the end of the first phase, betahausX and the startups are working together to identify areas that can be informed by experts and coaches from our professional network. The teams are invited to identify areas where they may need improvement, like public speaking, product strategy, corporate innovation, sales and more. 

The 1:1 coaching program includes coordination and expert support for the midterm pitching event, which takes place halfway through the 100-day program. The "midterm pitch" enables companies to discover hidden challenges and opportunities, and build a convincing case and presentation before the final pitching event. 

betahausX took the attention to follow the progress of every coach-startup interaction. The experts’ job is to identify the areas where the companies can identify a weakness in their case and improve on it. Upon the completion of the dedicated hours with one expert, betahausX follows up by recommending a coach in another field where the company may require support. 

The conclusion of  the 100-day program as a whole is the final pitch in front of DB executives and business units managers. Besides presentation of results, the event presents the contestants with a decisive moment which can end up with a follow up collaboration with DB. 

Coaching and Support to Mindbox's Core Team Support

betahausX was able to assist DB mindbox in preparing its core team to take on the task of running a corporate innovations program. Our own team and experts from our professional network provided mentoring on access to market, sales and marketing strategy, corporate communications and more. 

And just as the entire world was getting caught off-guard by the Covid pandemic, many companies, including DB mindbox, needed to accelerate their digital transformation and our team was able to help in that area also. 

BetahausX identified relevant coaches to facilitate the onboarding of a new manager of mindbox along with their new set of ideas and direction for the unit. This entailed holding strategy workshops and developing new mission statements, which led to a successful transition and better cohesion for the team. 


Our team is proud of having played a supportive role in the continued success of mindbox. The initial cooperation that began in 2015 is based on long-term contracts and will continue in the time ahead to ensure that participating startups and scaleups are provided with tailor-made coaching and support during and after the 100-day program. 


Before the loose cut-off period of March 2020, all meetings, coaching sessions and other activities took place in the betahaus coworking space or in the offices of mindbox. Since the pandemic took hold and changed how we interact, betahausX relied on communication platforms to carry on with the work. We are happy to say that we continued our support for the program with the same intensity and rigor as before, resulting in the successful completion of the subsequent calls for the 100-program.

About d.quarks and betahausX

Auf diese Fragen müssen alle Unternehmen und Organisationen schnell eine Antwort finden: Wie bleiben wir zukunftsfähig? Wie werden wir nachhaltiger? Mit welchen Geschäftsmodellen sind wir im digitalen Zeitalter genauso erfolgreich wie in der Vergangenheit? Unsere Partnerschaft hilft Antworten zu geben, denn wir verbinden den Zugang und das Wissen von Berlins ältester Startup-Community betahaus mit der Transformationserfahrung im Mittelstand und bei Familienunternehmen von d.quarks.

Mit Haltung gehen wir neue Wege.Wir machen Mut, mit den Veränderungen jetzt anzufangen und befähigen Menschen die Transformation selber durchzuführen.Dafür teilen wir unser Wissen, damit sich unsere Kunden in ihrer eigenen Geschwindigkeit verändern können. Dazu schaffen wir Dialogräume und entwickeln positive besetzte Zukunftsbilder.Wir arbeiten mit anderen kollaborativ, partizipativ und kokreativ zusammen.


  • Close cooperation between betahausX and DB mindbox resulted in the development of a new structure for a successful program.
  • The cooperation has been extended, merited on betahausX's vast professional network of experts who add value to mindbox's program.
  • DB mindbox has onboarded startups and scaleups that are actively working on piloting their solutions on DB's infrastructure, stations and day to day operations.