BSH kicks off smart kitchen mentorship programme for start-ups

The first accelerator programme to focus on innovation in household appliances and kitchen activities has kicked off in Munich, with the first line-up of successful applicants revealed.

The three-month programme is sponsored by BSH Home Appliances in partnership with US venture capital firm and start-up specialist firm Techstars.

BSH and Techstars have committed to host the programme until 2021. It aims to bring concepts and products to market in a much quicker time period than would otherwise be the case.

During the programme, the 10 digital start-ups selected from around the world, including three from the UK, will have access to advice and guidance from BSH decision-makers from design, engineering and marketing, as well as experts from Home Connect, BSH’s platform for connected devices and partners.

“Expect to be talking to your oven to set the temperature and cooking mode pretty soon.”

Thomas Cooper, owner and MD of UK start-up Pantri, from the 2019 CES show in Las Vegas

The BSH Future Home Accelerator is the latest signal from the German appliance firm of its intentions to dominate in the digital kitchen of the future.

“The business models of this first-class show reveal the relevant trends in the kitchen acting as the centre of the connected home and give an insight on which applications people will use in this area in the future,” said Tibor Kramer, venture and accelerator partner, BSH.

BSH app
Mario Pieper, BSH chief digital officer, speaks exclusively to kbbreview at the Smart Kitchen Summit last year 

“At BSH, we are inspired by the collaboration with these creative young companies which, in turn, will speed up our pace of innovation.”

The programme began earlier this week in Munich and ends on May 9 with a demo day event at which the start-ups present their refined business models to investors.

Three UK companies were selected to take part in the initiative out of hundreds of applications around the world.

One of those is a start-up called Pantri, a grocery inventory management and automated reordering platform that aims to connect every smart appliance to every online grocery retailer across the globe.

Eventually, their mission is to link a connected coffee machine, fridge and even wine rack to a homeowner’s favourite online retailer.

Another, called ckbk, aims to become the Spotify for recipes, while the third, Wifiplug, is building a “brain” for large household appliances.

Other selected participants come from Hong Kong, South Korea and the US.

They offer a mix of products and concepts that aim to bring added convenience and value to a number of everyday kitchen tasks, including eating and even making tea.

By launching the accelerator programme, BSH aims to tap into new ideas and concepts for digital innovation in the ‘future home’ and support potential business models to come to market.

“BSH, as a hardware-plus company, intends to become the industry leader in digital services for the connected kitchen,” said Karsten Ottenberg, chairman of the BSH management board last summer when the firm announced the launch of the accelerator programme.

“The success of that plan will depend crucially on assessing, developing and increasing growth opportunities of new digital business models. To do so, we need to acquire new digital capabilities that we currently don’t have yet.”

Last year, BSH set up the Digital Business Unit (DBU) to drive forward the development of new digital business models and make strategic investments in start-ups.

“A lot of smart people are working on new and creative ideas in the start-up scene,” said DBU head Mario Pieper. “We’ll work with Techstars to find those smart people and offer them a chance to develop their ideas further with us. The aim is to expand start-ups quickly into successful full-scale companies – and thus potential partners for BSH.”

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