General information

What is Start-up Lab?

Start-up Lab supports DPDHL Group employees and departments in testing and scaling ideas around new logistic business models, as well as new technologies within the ongoing business of our Group in order to make it easier to start new innovation projects throughout our company. The program, which is managed by Corporate Development and CSI, offers funding, coaching, lean processes, a vast network of experts as well as executive attention for the ideas. Accepted teams get the chance to quickly test and prototype their ideas as well as to pitch for long term support in order to help DPDHL shape the future of logistics.

Why do we need Start-up Lab?
In today’s logistics markets, start-ups are challenging traditional business models. But we can be, indeed we should be, the innovators and disruptors of our own industry. This is why we need Start-up Lab: it is the first step towards creating an ecosystem for further innovation across DPDHL.

Should all ideas be submitted to Start-up Lab?
The Start-up Lab program targets (preferably scalable) ideas that employees would like to develop into a proof of concept, Minimum Viable Product, or pilot on a project like basis. Ideas submitted to Start-up Lab need to be supported by description of a plan, team and requirements to incubate the idea. If you have an idea that is relevant to DPDHL but does not fit the requirements (e.g. challenge focus area, non-scalable, do not wish to work in start-up environment) you might consider applying for the internal ideas management program “YourIdea”. Please check myNet for more information.

Where can I get additional information on Start-up approach, tools and methodologies?
The Start-up Playbook will give you a taste of the tools and methodologies to defy outdated business models and design tomorrow’s enterprises. You will find it on myNet! Also join the “Start-up Lab & DP DHL Intrapreneurs” Yammer Group to receive latest information on methodologies, approaches and the Start-up Lab program!




Application requirements

For which idea focus areas can I apply?
For the third round of Start-up Lab, there are the 3 well-known focus areas for which you can apply:

  1. Explore new digital business models 
    Example: ‘Chiloobal’ is a digital eco-system facilitating cross-border omni-channel shopping using a mobile application

  2. Leverage & scale emerging technologies to increase operational efficiency 
    Example: ‘Meerkat’ exploits technology by creating a new robotics and computer vision technology to automate inventory management

  3. Leverage & scale emerging technologies to enhance customer experience 
    Example: ‘iNEBU’ is an integrated patient-centric digital platform connecting DHL BUs and external clinical trial stakeholders

For the second round of Start-up Lab we, there are a few topics for which we are especially keen on receiving applications. These include containerization, future of work, last-mile delivery and digitalization of our operations using emerging technologies such as blockchain, IoT and robotics. This does not mean that any other topics are not welcome but just acts as an additional inspiration for people who contemplate to apply to Start-up Lab.

Who is eligible to apply?
Application is open to all DPDHL employees.

Are there any regions in the world where DPDHL employees are excluded from the application?
All DPDHL employees from all parts of the world are invited and encouraged to apply. However we ask for your understanding that the language for the Start-up Lab application and further process will be English.

Do I need to have a team to apply?
A team (of up to 4 members) is preferred, but not mandatory. This is because typically a team is required to complete all the tasks required to turn an idea or concept into a proof of concept, Minimum Viable Product, or pilot. In case you believe you need more than 4 team members, please explain your case. Applications by individuals are also OK, however you should explicitly describe the plan on how you intend to realize your idea.

Does my team need specific skills?
Your application should explain the proposed roles and tasks that team members would undertake during Start-up Lab. If you need any additional support, e.g. IT development effort, please specify this in your application.

How much seed funding can I apply for?
Your application should specify how much funding you will need and what type of costs this is needed for.

How mature is my idea required to be?
Ideally you should be able to define the problem and how you aim to address it. At the time of your application, if you have already developed a concept or proof of concept and explain this in your submission, this is looked on favorably. However all good ideas are welcome and you can also include the plan on how you will develop the concept or proof of concept as part of your application.

Do I need to submit a business plan for my idea?
Start-up Lab is intended to incubate ideas and not mature business models. Hence, you are not required to submit a detailed business plan and this is also not expected! However, make sure to include your plan, including timeline of 4 months and what you aim to achieve as part of your application. Additionally, you will need to include details of funding and other support needed and explain what this is for.

What do I need to submit to apply for Start-up Lab?
You are required to send the completed application form to, which you can find as a ppt document on the Start-up Lab MyNet page. Additionally, applicants are free to add additional individual documents to the application. As an inspiration of how your application could look like, have a look at the 10 slides of Guy Kawasaki at We are not expecting a detailed Business Case or Business plan as part of your application.


Application Process

In what language can I submit by application?
The language for the application is English. In case you can only apply in German or need language assistance, please contact the Start-up Lab team.

How can I apply?
Please read the Start-up Lab Terms and Conditions carefully before you send your application. For applying for Start-up Lab you are required to complete the Application form, which can be found on the Start-up Lab MyNet page. Additionally, applicants are free to add additional individual documents to the application. Final applications should be sent until 30 November 2018 to

Who can I contact in case I need technical support with my application?
Please reach out to the team at as your first point of contact (e.g. unable to send, unconventional format).


Selection process

What does the selection process and timeline look like?
Applications for the second round of Start-up Lab need to be received by 30 November 2018. Shortlisted teams will be notified by 31 December 2018. In February 2019, shortlisted teams will be invited for pitch coaching and a final pitch day. A senior selection committee will select the winners who will participate in the Start-up Lab program.

How will applications be selected?
Selection criteria will include, but is not limited to, the fit with DPDHL business areas, attractiveness of the idea and feasibility to implement.

How many teams will actually participate in the Start-up Lab program?
Up to 8 winning teams will be selected to participate in the first Start-up Lab. However, there will be further chances to apply in 2019 and beyond!

If I am short-listed or selected, how will I be notified?
The lead team member, as specified in your application will be notified via e-mail or telephone.

Will I also be notified in case I am not selected?
We truly appreciate each and every application! The Start-up Lab team will endeavor to provide individual responses to the extent feasible, however there is no guarantee that all entries will be acknowledged or returned (e.g., physical prototypes).

What is the actual Start-up Lab program? (for teams selected)
Teams selected to participate in Start-up Lab will be invited to onboarding sessions to kick-start their incubator experience. In Start-up Lab, teams will have 4 months to turn their idea or concept into a proof of concept, Minimum Viable Product, or pilot using a Lean Start-up approach. The goal is to validate the idea and quickly scale it if the necessary quality gates are passed during the incubation phase.

What kind of support is provided if I am selected for the Start-up Lab?
Support to start-up teams in the Start-up Lab program includes, but is not limited to:

  • Exposure to and collaboration with DPDHL’s senior management and innovation network (both internal and external to DPDHL)

  • Seed funding and support for 4 months for the provision of resources needed to put your idea into practice (e.g. market research, IT development, office space).

  • Benefit from your business sponsor and coaches as well as support through pitch coaching sessions, comprehensive onboarding, Lean Start-up know-how etc.

On top, you will be reimbursed for travel expenses needed for the onboarding and other support sessions that are part of the program.

What happens if I am already in a full time role and I get selected to the Start-up Lab program?
The definition of specific working conditions will be on a case-by-case basis in close alignment with your line manager.

What happens with my current position?
Your current position will be held for the duration of Start-up Lab. In case there is help or a replacement for the day-to-day business in your current role needed, this can be discussed and arranged on an individual basis.

Will my compensation and benefits change if I get selected?
Whilst you are participating in Start-up Lab there will be no change to your compensation and benefits.

If I am selected do I need to relocate?
There is no general requirement for relocation. We will help you to find a solution regarding your work-location based on your preferred working location for the team and individual requirements, e.g. office space.

Will I be required to work on my idea during my spare time?
Participation in Start-up Lab is on a project like basis. We will help you to come to an arrangement together with your line manager to determine the specific working conditions (e.g. full time or at least 1.5 days a week).

How will my tasks be backfilled (temporarily covered) if I am accepted into Start-up Lab?
It is likely that many of the ideas submitted would be related to an employee’s existing work area. In that situation, the program will actually help those teams be more successful! However if short term backfill of your position is an option and is required, then please indicate this in your application. If your team is selected, then we would discuss potential arrangements with your line manager.