Future of railroad construction industry 2024 (ZIB)

Calling all innovators that want to contribute to a more sustainable, modern and technologically advanced railroad construction industry with Deutsche Bahn Group and strong industry partners from Zukunftsinitiative Bahnbau (ZIB)!

For the 3rd time we are hosting a batch together with our partners from the rail construction industry and planning offices from the industry initiative ZIB. Together with companies like KAF FalkenhahnLEONHARD WEISS, INROS LACKNER, Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group as well as Die Autobahn GmbH des Bundes, DB InfraGO and DB Bahnbau Gruppe and many more, we want to face today‘s challenges in railroad construction industry.

In 2024, we are focusing on four major topics:

  • Equipping construction workers with state-of-the-art technology
  • Enabling sustainable and climate-friendly construction
  • Improving the industries’ attractiveness from an employee point of view
  • Applying innovative technologies to the construction industry

This 100-day program gives startups the chance to customize and live-test their solution to real challenges that the construction companies and DB are facing. What is in for you?

  • Access to construction company & DB experts and data
  • Access to a network of selected coaching and mentoring experts
  • EUR 25,000, no equity taken
  • Coworking Space at our loving office site at Berlin Jannowitzbrücke
  • You will be supported by a dedicated DB mindbox startup manager and will have 24/7 access to our coworking space

This is a great opportunity to lay the foundation for joint projects and successful long-term collaboration with leading construction companies as well as Deutsche Bahn Group, Europe’s largest mobility and infrastructure provider.

If you have any question regarding our program, join our weekly open Q&A session on thursdays from 12.00 – 12.45 pm CEST here. We are happy to answer all of your questions!


Work simplification in the construction industry – from planning to construction site ​

Construction site workers face enormous challenges during their work. In addition to physically demanding tasks, they also have to retain an extensive knowledge in their memory. For this reason, we are looking for solutions to improve working conditions on the construction site. This includes measures for physical support, such as assistance systems like exoskeletons, as well as for mental support, such as easily providing necessary information on work processes. Work simplifications for employees in planning offices are also welcome!

Apply now
© Deutsche Bahn AG / Stefan Wildhirt

Construction site workers are often subject to high physical strains. To ease the work, we are searching for startups that offer innovative robotics solutions to use on construction sites, such as exoskeletons or load-carrying robots.​

© Deutsche Bahn AG / Skydeck
Augmented Reality (AR) / Virtual Reality (VR)

AR and VR solutions offer a variety of applications. From better orientation on construction sites to providing important information about workflows – surprise us with your innovative ideas!​

© Deutsche Bahn AG / Gorodenkoff Productions
Artificial Intelligence (AI)

How can tasks in the planning and construction phases be simplified for employees with AI? This is what we want to discover together with innovative startups. Possible approaches include optimizing logistics or processes at the construction site.​

© Deutsche Bahn AG / NÓI CREW - Yoav Kedem
Further solutions

Do you have another innovative solution that could support employees? We look forward to receiving your application!​


Green construction site & planning processes​

The era of sustainable construction sites has begun and the impact on the environment becomes a critical aspect in every decision. From planning to the use of sustainable materials, there is tremendous potential for innovative collaboration with startups. Solutions for ‘Green Construction Sites’ are sought after, aiming to make construction projects carbon neutral. Let’s make construction sites and planning greener together!

Apply now
© Unsplash / Alexander Schimmeck
Circular construction and sustainable materials

Our goal is to realize a carbon neutral construction site. A key for this is the use of sustainable materials and the promotion of circular construction. How can recycled materials be effectively reused in the construction process? And what alternative raw materials can replace traditional building materials?​

© Deutsche Bahn AG / Uli Planz
Optimization of planning and construction site processes

A construction site is a complex project with a multitude of processes and dependencies. These should be designed to be as efficient and sustainable as possible. To do so, we are seeking ways to optimize various aspects including machinery, material requirements, logistics and material quantities.​

© Deutsche Bahn AG / Heye Jensen
Modularization and standardization

Every construction project is unique. Does it have to be? Help us analyze our existing inventory and new construction projects to increase opportunities for modularization and standardization of building components. This way, we aim to counteract shortages of material and personnel.​

© Unsplash / Evgeniy Surzhan
BIM-modell-based construction

Our goal is to unlock further potentials of the BIM planning model. We are seeking a solution that serves employees as a simple navigation/orientation tool while also increasing the precision of construction execution.​


Employer attractiveness: culture, retention, knowledge​

The shortage of skilled workers is omnipresent and also affects the rail construction industry and planning offices. On one hand, we are looking for solutions to help reduce knowledge loss and better distribute knowledge among employees. On the other hand, we are seeking solutions to reduce turnover by strengthening employer attractiveness and working conditions.

Apply now
© Deutsche Bahn AG / Max Lautenschläger
AI-based knowledge management and assistance

From planning offices to construction – the industry is characterized by high fluctuation due to retirements and challenging working conditions. With these departures, valuable knowledge is lost. Therefore, we are seeking a solution that captures this knowledge and intelligently provides it to new employees and other colleagues as assistance.​

© Deutsche Bahn AG / Dominic Dupont
Promotion of corporate culture

Establishing a positive corporate culture is a challenging task, especially when employees work decentrally. How can effective communication be ensured nonetheless? From implementing an onboarding solution to a change management solution, all approaches are welcome!​

© Deutsche Bahn AG / Pablo Castagnola
Improvement of working conditions

We aim to make the industry more attractive for skilled workers. We are looking for tools for needs analysis, planning, and implementation of flexible working hour models and asymmetric work structures. Additionally, we are searching for startups that support comprehensive workplace prevention measures (sports, protective clothing, mental health promotion).​

© Deutsche Bahn AG / Max Lautenschläger
Recruiting foreign workforce

To counteract the shortage of skilled workers, there is an increased recruitment of personnel from abroad. This leads to challenges such as the recognition of competencies and language barriers. How can German railway construction companies and planning offices make themselves attractive to foreign skilled workers?​


Innovative technologies for the construction industry and planning ​

Welcome to the future of the construction industry – from planning offices to construction execution! We are committed to innovation to transform the industry and set new standards. For this purpose, we are seeking startup solutions in several areas: efficient capturing of existing buildings through groundbreaking technologies, creation of an open exchange platform to foster ideas and innovations, as well as startups for identifying cybersecurity vulnerabilities to protect the digital infrastructures of construction projects.

Apply now
© Deutsche Bahn AG / Georg Wagner
Innovative building assesment

How can buildings be monitored and assessed more effectively? We are interested in innovative methods that simplify maintenance and inventory assessment. For example, through novel non-destructive methods or the use of drones.​

© Deutsche Bahn AG / Volker Emersleben
Collaborative platform for innovation

We are seeking an innovative platform for exchange between DB, construction companies, and planning offices. It should facilitate gathering experiences across trades and provide insights into where and how new ideas have been tested. Additionally, it should match opportunities for innovation through offer/seek functionalities.​

© Unsplash / Adi Goldstein
Protection against cyber attacks

The threat of cyber attacks is increasing for construction companies and planning offices. We are looking for startups that can detect security vulnerabilities in a timely manner to take appropriate measures. It requires automated and efficient methods to uncover these gaps beyond penetration tests.​

© Unsplash / Markus Spiske
Parallelized work across company boundaries

In railway construction, a new approach is emerging: instead of individual track closures over an extended period, there are shorter total closures to increase efficiency. We are looking for solutions that identify time-saving potentials and effectively integrate the activities of various trades.​


14. Jul. 2024

Application deadline

Last day to apply for the program (eod).

16. Aug. 2024

Announcement of candidates

Invitation of selected teams is expected to take place mid-August (tbc).

05. Sep. 2024

Selection day

Pitch your solution live on stage to a expert jury and audience (tbc).

14. Oct. 2024

Start of program

Start of the 100-day Proof-of-Concept (PoC) to develop and test a prototype in cooperation with DB is expected to take place in October (tbc).

05. Feb. 2025

End of program

End of 100-day Proof-of-Concept (PoC) and presentation of results is expected to take place in February 2025 (tbc).