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Up2B Product Booster: An agile cooperation

The next Up2B Product Booster starts on October 25th. It connects industrytech startups with companies to get innovations off the ground faster. The application period for companies runs until June 30th, for startups it starts on July 1st. More info at: www.up2b.io/productbooster.

The idea: Many industrial companies would like to cooperate with startups in order to implement innovation and digitization more quickly in the company. The companies benefit from innovative high-tech solutions and the "fresh wind" that startups bring with them. However, companies often find the time-consuming and cost-intensive search for suitable startups difficult. For startups, cooperation with an industrial company is a great opportunity to further develop their own product/service and to establish valuable contacts. Through the Up2B Accelerator's "Product Booster" program, the Heidelberg Technology Park helps with networking. Once suitable companies have been identified, it takes over the matching, moderates initial discussions and oversees the subsequent five-week collaboration.

Last year, well-known companies such as BASF, ZEISS, Freudenberg, IDS Imaging Development Systems and Röchling participated in the Product Booster. In the following interview, the company Röchling and the startup Polysecure, who got to know each other through last year's Product Booster, talk about their successful collaboration.

 

Fairy dust. Image source: Polysecure.

"Fairy dust" fluorescent marker. Image source: Polysecure.

An agile cooperation

The startup Polysecure GmbH and the Röchling Group got to know each other through the Up2B Product Booster. A successful development cooperation began. Paul Becker, UP2B Project Coordinator at Heidelberg Technology Park, Dr. Axel Höfter, General Manager Corporate R&D at Röchling Industrial and Jochen Moesslein, Founder and CEO at Polysecure talk in an interview about their agile collaboration from which both sides benefit.


What was the initial situation before the start of the Product Booster?
Axel Höfter: In the global economy, protection against so-called reverse engineering and product piracy is taking on an increasingly important role. In addition, there are current industrial trends such as Industry 4.0, which require counterfeit-proof, individual tracking of products. As a manufacturer of plastic products, Röchling needs for these reasons reliable and efficient marking solutions for plastics. However, finding a suitable solution that could be implemented quickly proved to be a challenge.


How has the Up2B Accelerator been able to help Röchling with this initial situation?
Paul Becker: The Up2B Accelerator connects companies and B2B startups with the goal of successful collaboration. Very specifically, we helped the company with two challenges. The first challenge is finding a suitable startup - this is often a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. The second challenge is initiating and facilitating the collaboration. Cultural differences make this task more difficult. Startups benefit from their agility and speed and want to tackle tasks immediately. Many companies are not used to such a high speed of implementation. In addition, we always work to increase the acceptance of startups as a first step and to enable them to work at eye level. This is not always easy with large global companies with more than 10,000 employees on the one hand, and startups with just five employees on the other.
With Polysecure, we were able to hit the bull's eye for Röchling. The startup has the right marker technology for all applications, based on inorganic fluorescent particles developed in-house. This was exactly the technology that Röchling was looking for.

What did the cooperation look like and what was achieved?
Jochen Moesslein: The goal of the five-week cooperation was to demonstrate the feasibility for Röchling involving Polysecure's technology. In a first step, the feasibility had to be tested. Polysecure provided samples, so-called specific fluorescent markers. Röchling then produced the prototype patterns.
In the second step, the authentication of the markers in the plastic was demonstrated by a precise measurement of the decay constant with the BRANDPROOF® pocket detector, which we developed ourselves. This enables fast, inexpensive proof of originality, as protection against plagiarism.

In the third section, we tested the sortability of the labeled plastics. Tracer-based sorting technology was used for this purpose. This is a new and very efficient sorting technology developed by us that can master the challenges of the circular economy, especially for plastics. The detectability and sortability of the Röchling samples proved to be very good.
The fourth part of the feasibility study investigated how clearly certain fluorescent particles embedded in the plastic produce a particle pattern. This question was also concluded with a positive result. The patterns were easy to recognize and were also suitable for identification in perspective with a smartphone camera. They thus make it possible to trace the product unambiguously.

To what extent has this solution advanced the Röchling company?
Axel Höfter: All three solutions were successfully developed on prototype samples. Currently, Röchling is analyzing its diverse product portfolio for our three divisions Automotive, Industrial and Medical and identifying use cases for robust product authentication. We have jointly initiated several additional feasibility tests. The agility in the collaboration has been a key advantage.

How did the Up2B Accelerator provide support?
Paul Becker: Once the Up2B Accelerator team had identified the two partners and the commitment to work together had been established, the Accelerator's task was to provide support only in the areas where it was needed. Very specifically, we helped define the expectations of collaboration for both parties. In addition, we assisted with project planning. Since communication is at the forefront of collaboration, we offered the startup two workshops on the topics of "How do I communicate with my customer?" and "How do I design the sales process, from initial contact to a successful conclusion?" Mentors were present to provide individual advice and support. At the end, the startup presented the project it had developed. Although the tight deadline created some pressure in the implementation of the project, it meant that results were produced relatively quickly that were worthy of note.

More info about the Product Booser from Up2B: www.up2b.io/productbooster

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