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Streamlining the flow of innovation at DB Schenker

How DB Schenker is using the ITONICS Innovation OS to centralize its innovation value chain in a single, collaborative Innovation Platform. For faster value realization, reduced effort, and a seamless flow of innovation.

 "At DB Schenker, we are always looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving logistics landscape. ITONICS is our operating system for all innovation-related initiatives. It has supported us in centralizing our activities to a more streamlined, collaborative, and data-driven process."

Sebastian Schuhmann, Head of Global Innovation Portfolio, DB Schenker

DB Schenker Innovation Platform
DB Schenker's Innovation Platform

Connecting global innovation

In the past decade, the logistics industry has undergone transformative changes. It’s embraced sustainability and digitalization, adopted artificial intelligence and automation, and adapted quickly in response to increasing globalization and disruption. This evolution demands an unwavering commitment to foresight and an openness to new technologies, startups, and opportunities. 

As a leading global logistics provider, DB Schenker excels at navigating this complexity and orchestrating innovative, end-to-end solutions. Few companies have as much experience and expertise in connecting the world—literally. Yet, as the company expanded its innovation activities to adapt to the evolving logistics landscape, DB Schenker faced a new but not unfamiliar challenge: How to connect its globally dispersed innovation processes, intelligence, and experts in a single, seamless system.

DB Schenker Innovation Portfolio
DB Schenker's unified inspirations portfolio

The initial situation at DB Schenker

Prior to adopting the ITONICS Innovation OS, DB Schenker managed its innovation activities with disparate tools: Jira for tracking startups, PowerPoint for trend analysis, and various project management applications.

Teams, often working on interrelated yet distinct projects, struggled to align and share critical knowledge. With the STARTup terminal engaged in venture clienting, the Enterprise Lab exploring new tech solutions, and the Insights & Intelligence Team analyzing trends to guide the strategic focus across business units—DB Schenker needed one centralized tool to streamline the flow of innovation.

  • No unified view of all innovation activities, pain points, and solutions across the organization.
  • High level of complexity in managing, screening, and tracking potential partnerships with startups.
  • Obstacles in fostering effective collaboration and knowledge exchange between global teams.
  • Time-consuming insights identification resulting from inefficient data integration and analysis processes.
  • High manual effort required to scale innovation activities due to fragmented tool landscape.

Objectives of centralizing the innovation value chain

 "The platform has not only enabled us to centralize our innovation activities, but it has also opened doors to exciting new partnerships with startups, enriching our business model with fresh perspectives. We can collaborate with full transparency at every step of the innovation process." 

Niklas Weishaupt, Senior Global Innovation Manager, DB Schenker

Niklas Weishaupt_DBS_cropped


From pain point to project execution in one platform

DB Schenker adopted the ITONICS Innovation OS as a comprehensive solution to address its innovation challenges. With a strong innovation governance structure and culture already in place, DB Schenker was able to easily transfer its multiple teams and use cases into the Innovation Platform. 

Insights & Intelligence

DB Schenker’s Insights & Intelligence Team is responsible for trend analysis, evaluation, and reporting. Previously scattered across static slide decks and reports, DB Schenker's trend landscape is now unified on the ITONICS Radar. This customizable tool offers a comprehensive view of industry-changing drivers, facilitating collaborative evaluation to surface new opportunities. 

The Insights & Intelligence Team can efficiently create and share trend reports interlinked with the Innovation Platform. With these dynamic reports, the team has broadened dissemination and boosted engagement, providing valuable insights to steer strategic planning amongst DB Schenker's STARTup terminal, Enterprise Lab, and other business units.

STARTup terminal

The STARTup terminal at DB Schenker encourages employees at all levels to share pain points they encounter along the end-to-end logistics value chain. Pain points are evaluated in the Innovation Platform and used to identify opportunities for digitalization and automation. This “pull” approach not only grounds innovation in operational reality; it also steers startup matching.

As part of this “pull” approach to innovation, the STARTup terminal seeks out new technologies and business models through venture clienting. Any startup can submit their proposal through the STARTup terminal’s external gateway, powered by ITONICS Open Innovation. A Tracxn integration also enables the team to scout for startups directly in its Innovation Platform. Here, it can quickly evaluate and manage all startup engagements, ensuring an agile and well-tracked startup pipeline.

Validated projects, including early-stage tech solutions from the Enterprise Lab and startup pilots, are then transferred to the STARTup terminal’s innovation portfolio for further development and scaling. With customizable workflows for each project and Kanban boards to visualize progress, the platform streamlines project management, enabling efficient tracking, agile scaling, and rapid delivery. 

Enterprise Lab

DB Schenker‘s Enterprise Lab leverages insights from the Trend Radar and pain point analysis to identify and evaluate early-stage technological solutions. In its evaluation, the team determines prioritization and whether to adapt existing solutions within the technology portfolio or innovate anew. 

The Enterprise Lab emphasizes co-creation with customers and suppliers, developing solutions that are not only practical and value-driven but also precisely aligned with market demands. Once solutions are primed for scaling, they move into the STARTup terminal's portfolio, accelerating their journey from prototype to implementation. This focus on collaboration and cutting-edge technology exploration ensures that DB Schenker’s innovation portfolio is diverse and balanced across growth horizons.


  • Systematic pull approach: The Platform combines startup scouting and pain point collection, enhancing innovation outcomes by aligning market demands with emerging technologies.
  • Enhanced collaboration: With one single source of truth and improved knowledge sharing across the organization, DB Schenker accesses a broader range of diverse insights to drive forward-thinking solutions.
  • Operational efficiency: DB Schenker quickly identifies synergies and overlaps between pain points and existing solutions or startups in its portfolio, optimizing resource allocation for maximum innovation ROI.
  • Efficient startup management: Centralized to-do lists for each startup streamline responsibilities and progress tracking, simplifying daily operations and decision-making in team meetings.
  • Agile open innovation: With an accessible external gateway, DB Schenker has removed the barriers to collaboration and reduced the effort of evaluating startups for faster, value-driven co-creation.
  • Scalable innovation framework: The Platform supports DB Schenker's dynamic innovation strategy, poised for future expansion in use cases and user engagement to drive scalable, sustainable growth.
"We are excited to support DB Schenker in building its innovation ecosystem with the ITONICS Innovation OS. DB Schenker is a leader in logistics innovation, and this collaboration is a testament to our commitment to driving industry-wide transformation and excellence."

Matthias Veit, Director of Customer Success & Account Management, ITONICS

Matthias Veit

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About DB Schenker

With around 72,700 employees at more than 1,850 locations in over 130 countries, DB Schenker is one of the world’s leading logistics service providers. The company operates land, air, and ocean transportation services, and it also offers comprehensive logistics and global supply chain management solutions from a single source. Aiming for a sustainable future in the logistics industry, DB Schenker continuously invests in innovative transport solutions, renewable energies, and low-emission products for its customers.

DB Schenker's STARTup terminal serves as a gateway for startups to present their ideas and technologies, enabling DB Schenker to efficiently evaluate and integrate groundbreaking solutions into its operations. This initiative fosters a dynamic ecosystem where innovative ideas can flourish, contributing to DB Schenker's leadership in logistics and supply chain innovation.

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