News | 07/14/2021 On the road to the digital transformation in production: Liebherr collaborating with startup

Liebherr is actively involved in a development program for startups that is being run by Bosch: The Bosch Startup Harbour. The purpose is to support talented teams in the development of their first business concept. Liebherr's collaboration with Bosch is aimed at shaping the factory of the future together with a startup on the basis of a specific application. At the same time, Liebherr sees this new collaboration format as an opportunity to gain external input and for testing and validating new technologies. This should accelerate the innovation process.

Liebherr is actively involved as co-innovator in the Bosch Startup Harbour, an incubation program for early-phase startups. Based on an application from production, Liebherr is working together with a startup to design a collaborative robot arm that is bionically inspired by an elephant's trunk.

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In February this year, Bosch and Liebherr launched the Co-Innovation Challenge with an appeal on social media. With the aim of shaping the factory of the future together, several startups applied with their innovations for three areas of interest defined by Liebherr in the context of the digital transformation in production. Liebherr ultimately decided to enter a collaboration with Continuum-Innovation, a young startup from Berlin. The six-strong team impressed us with its "Cobot" innovation, a collaborative robot arm that allows simple and low-threshold automation. What makes it so special: The arm and the gripper mechanism were modelled on an elephant's trunk. It uses visual sensors to monitor its surroundings, which gives the Cobot great flexibility and versatility in a wide range of different applications in production.

Since early May 2021, the collaboration has been running between Liebherr, Bosch and the startup Continuum-Innovation. In addition to a monthly bounty, the young startup will receive extensive training and individually tailored coaching and mentoring from Bosch for the duration of the program, which will be about six months. The contents should help the startup to develop a solid business model for its innovation. In addition, the startup will also be given direct points of contact to science and thus opportunities for an exchange with a large network of researchers at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, another cooperation partner of the Bosch Startup Harbour. The program is financially supported by the State of Berlin and the ESF (European Social Fund).

Liebherr is supporting and mentoring the startup in co-innovation with the conceptual development of its product innovation. To this end, workshops are planned with experts from the Earthmoving product segment. Here, the Cobot will be tested and optimised with the help of simulations on the basis of a specific application – the bolting of the slew ring on a wheeled excavator. For Liebherr, the co-innovation represents a new collaboration format. Besides the goal of developing a collaborative, working robot together with Continuum-Innovation, Liebherr sees the cooperation as an opportunity to gain new know-how through an exchange with specialists from science and research. These new working methods and technologies will bring Liebherr a step closer to the factory of the future.