How challenges and trends give rise to innovations for the railway

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Innovation management

Inspire, empower, innovate

Article: How challenges and trends give rise to innovations for the railway

The best ideas emerge from inspiration and focused observation. Developing these ideas further, proving that they are valid, and making them successful – that's what innovation management at DB Systel is all about.

Innovations are the result of systematic validation of new assumptions. Working together, we shape solutions until they are implemented in practice. These solutions are born from current trends, specific challenges encountered in day-to-day work and the minds of intrapreneurs who are always coming up with new ideas. With DB Systel's innovation management, we systematically develop clever ideas sparked by our Group partners into innovative projects and profitable solutions.

From idea to internal startup


Person sitzend am Tisch vor einem Laptop mit einer MS-Teams Besprechung

Some ideas arise spontaneously by chance. However, we can also give our creativity and inspiration a helping hand by listening to other people's ideas, engaging in mutual exchange and brainstorming, and specifically analysing current challenges and technological trends.


Zwei Frauen, freudig, im Gespräch mit einem Mann in einem Büro vor einem Laptop.

You encounter a challenge in your business unit, but you're not sure how to implement its solution in practice. The first thing to do is set up a project team and flesh out the vision. By implementing creative methods with like-minded inventors and mentors in the Skydeck, you can turn a flash of inspiration into a tangible concept.


Vier Personen sitzend am Tisch mit Laptop, Lego-Roboter und Klebezetteln auf dem Tisch

Now it is time to accelerate the idea and validate hypotheses in application tests. This includes drawing up a business case and building the first prototype. This step serves primarily to test the idea's chances of success and railway relevance in advance and formulate the idea into a viable concept. At this stage, many ideas are still incomplete, or even fail. The right advice and support can give project team members the skills they need. At Demo Day, our innovation teams finally get a chance to inspire others with their vision.


Frau stehend vor großem Screen, Mann und Frau davor hören zu

A project that has successfully completed the accelerator phase can become a "venture". Ventures are funded internal DB startups that develop innovative solutions for real-world applications. The innovation process turns an idea into a successful startup with which we put innovations into practice together. And this is how our successful ventures came into being.

"I value [...] the creative methods, new ideas and the breath of fresh air that the Skydeck brings to Deutsche Bahn. The focus is always on bringing people together and sharing ideas and knowledge."

Dr Ulla Metzger, Digitalization and Technology/Strategy, Deutsche Bahn AG

Profile picture Dr. Ulla Metzger

Networking and learning in the Skydeck

Skydeck Spectrum

The format for networking, inspiration and new perspectives. Skydeck Spectrum breaks innovation down into its individual components just like a prism splits light into its component colours. It reveals the surprising interplay that exists between innovation and issues such as ethics, the environment, regulation and more. We discover scope for innovations: what opportunities do technological innovations offer us and what challenges can we solve today? It's a place where like-minded people come together.

Skydeck Academy

Where knowledge comes to life. In various modules and sessions, we learn useful creative techniques and deepen our understanding of business and IT together. We can then integrate this knowledge directly into our daily work and use it as a basis for new ideas and development approaches.

Skydeck Techflash

How can new technology help us create a better future? This is where we find inspiration and insights into current challenges and trends that could potentially impact day-to-day rail operations in the future. TechFlash provides valuable insights into the work being done on these issues by railway experts, DB Systel and external experts from business and research.

Get involved and create something new

DB Systel's innovation management promotes a culture of active participation among DB employees and pools our expertise as a basis for knowledge transfer. Ideas for digital improvements, new services or even completely new ventures will find just the right sounding board here for our digital awakening, greater collaboration and constructive feedback. The innovation management programmes and offerings are at the very heart of idea development at Deutsche Bahn and provide space for inspiration and exchange.

Skydeck Innovation Process

Do you have a question about innovation management, or even an idea, or are you curious about what projects and ventures have already emerged from our joint efforts? Then please get in touch.