LiDAR pioneer Blickfeld wins Germany’s highest endowed start-up prize against 1,200 participants

The jury, led by German Silicon Valley legend Andreas von Bechtolsheim, honors Munich-based start-up company in “Start me up!”, a contest for new founders

Munich. Blickfeld, a leading provider of solid-state LiDAR technology, has been awarded 100,000 Euro for achieving first place in the “Start me up!” contest, which is organized by the business magazine BILANZ. The Munich-based start-up competed with a total of 1,200 applicants, ten of whom had reached the final round.

This year’s jury chairman was Andreas von Bechtolsheim, multi-founder and legendary Silicon Valley investor, who was one of the first to invest in Google. Von Bechtolsheim explains the decision of the ten jury members: “LiDAR sensors make driving safer because they detect dangers quickly and precisely. The unique feature of the Blickfeld sensors is their small size: They can be integrated directly into headlights and rear-view mirrors and are also very advanced in terms of range, image resolution and field of vision.”

“The mobility of the future is an issue that occupies many people and ultimately affects all of us – Blickfeld winning the “Start me up!” award is another clear sign of this!”, says Blickfeld’s CEO Dr. Mathias Müller. “We feel that our vision of making tomorrow’s mobility more efficient and, above all, safer with our sensors has been confirmed”.

BILANZ has honored the best business ideas and innovations with the “Start me up!” award since 2015 and over time has established itself as an important contest in Germany. This year’s award winners were presented with their prizes at a ceremony held on 3 July as part of the TOA technology festival in Berlin.

LiDAR for everyone – MEMS mirrors enable LiDAR sensors for the mass market

In the past, LiDAR systems struggled with a number of problems:  they were lacking in efficiency and robustness for use in the automotive industry. An even bigger problem was the cost of a LiDAR system: The sensors were far too expensive for the automotive mass market. Blickfeld tackles this problem. The Munich-based start-up’s technology relies on MEMS silicon components and highly automated production – and is paving the way for autonomous vehicles.

The problem: lack of robustness and high production costs

LiDAR technology is not a new invention; it has been used in various applications, such as measuring emissions in atmospheric research or remote sensing in archaeology since the 1960s. However, LiDAR systems have faced some serious problems until now:

  • LiDAR systems are very large.
  • The mechanics used are sensitive to harsh environmental conditions such as vibrations, heat and cold.
  • The range of previous LiDAR systems is not sufficient for many applications.
  • And: LiDAR sensors today are neither available in large quantities nor at affordable prices.

All these points pose major problems for the automotive industry in particular, which is desperately looking for high-performance LiDAR systems with a robust and production-scaleable design. Why? Because LiDAR is essential for the autonomous cars of tomorrow. Mobility is about distances and speeds. Not-colliding is essential in road traffic – LiDAR sensors detect immediately and reliably. Experts therefore predict that several LiDAR sensors per car will be needed in the future. However, to achieve this, the problems mentioned must be overcome.

What is the root of those problems?

Classical, mechanically rotating LiDAR concepts are fragile and complex in design and production, resulting in large dimensions and high prices. Although other technologies and designs such as optical phased array and flash LiDAR have the potential to significantly reduce LiDARs in size and cost, they are still at the beginning of development or have system-related disadvantages, such as a very limited range.

The solution: MEMS-based LiDAR sensors

LiDAR sensors based on MEMS mirrors are a promising solution. Their silicon construction is already well advanced and implemented very successfully in many automotive applications. In addition, MEMS technology does not require rotating components and is therefore much more robust and durable than mechanical LiDAR systems. MEMS mirrors available on the market today have small mirror sizes and small deflection angles, as these were sufficient for their previous use. Their performance in terms of range and field of view is therefore limited.

MEMS mirrors on wafer level

The Blickfeld solution: Particularly large mirrors

Blickfeld’s LiDAR system relies on MEMS. But how does their system differ from other MEMS based LiDARs? To extend the range of the sensors, Blickfeld has developed its own MEMS mirrors. With generous dimensions of more than 10 millimeters mirror diameter, a high proportion of incident light can be directed onto the photodetector. Thus, the LiDAR reliably detects even weakly reflecting objects at a distance of more than 180 meters. In comparison, conventional MEMS mirrors have diameters of only a few millimetres and small deflection angles, which reduces the range and field of view accordingly when used in LiDARs.

Further advantages of the MEMS mirror used in Blickfeld products are:

  • a large deflection, which enables a scanning angle of approx. 100° x 30° and thus a wide field of view.
  • Spatial filter effect due to coaxial design: The light emitted by the laser and deflected onto the scene by the MEMS mirror is reflected by the objects in the field and returned to the detector along an optically almost identical path. This means that light photons are only collected from the exact direction in which the laser sent them. This minimizes the background light, for example from the sun or other LiDARs, and produces a very high signal-to-noise ratio, which benefits the range.

Blickfeld Cube LiDAR sensor mounted on a car roof

How does Blickfeld address the problem of production?

The MEMS mirrors developed by Blickfeld solve three of the four problems mentioned above: The company’s LiDARs are space-saving, robust and performant. But how does Blickfeld tackle the problem of cost-intensive production? By manufacturing the mirrors with low-cost photolithographic production techniques that allow highest precision with extreme scalability, so-called MEMS silicon manufacturing. A standard silicon wafer with a diameter of 200 millimeters is turned into hundreds of highly automated MEMS components simultaneously. This method, which has been tried and tested in the semiconductor industry for decades, enables the technology to conquer the mass market.

The MEMS mirror is embedded in a ‘commercial off-the-shelf’ structure, i.e. commercially available standard components. These laser and detector units, that are available on the market, enable a cost-effective and scalable production of the sensors.

Autonomous cars and so much more

The use of LiDAR sensors extends far beyond the automotive industry and the fields of application are versatile. In order to take advantage of the technology, Blickfeld has eliminated the major problems of LiDAR systems and has made them accessible to the mass mark

cube in hand

Blickfeld and Koito explore advanced technologies for the development of LiDAR that can be fully integrated into headlight

Munich, Germany and Tokyo, Japan. Blickfeld, a leading provider of solid-state LiDAR technology, and Koito Manufacturing, the leading global tier-one supplier of exterior automotive lighting, announced today that they will explore technologies to develop a LiDAR sensor that can be fully integrated into a headlight.

The integration of Blickfeld’s LiDAR into Koito headlamps will enable automobile manufacturers to possess breakthrough LiDAR technology in which the sensor is fully integrated into the vehicle, which will in turn facilitate unprecedented progress in serial Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Autonomous Vehicle systems (AV).

Blickfeld’s 3D solid-state LiDAR technology is designed to meet the highest automotive performance requirements. The core of the Blickfeld LiDAR is a proprietary silicon MEMS mirror specifically developed for LiDAR applications. This enables not only safe and in-depth information about the surrounding environment, but also mass-market availability. The compact design of the miniature solid-state LiDAR by Blickfeld allows direct integration into a vehicle’s lighting system, enabling real-time 3D mapping and object detection, classification, and tracking, without marring the design of the vehicle.

Dr. Mathias Müller, co-founder and CEO of Blickfeld: “With its renowned expertise and strong market position, Koito is a proven pioneer in the field of automotive headlights. We have been working very successfully with the Koito team since early 2018 and are thrilled to develop the next generation of lighting products.”

Yuji Yokoya. Executive Vice President of Koito: “Koito has been in search of innovative, high-performance LiDAR technology from around the world, and among what we have found, we regard Blickfeld as one of the most promising companies in their field”.

Prize ceremony EUSP 2019

Blickfeld is among the 10 Winners of the European Startup Prize for Mobility

The second European Startup Prize for Mobility (EUSP) has revealed the 10 winning companies in its 2019 awards that are creating a new transport landscape for European travellers. Companies that received the prize in the presence of awards sponsor Prince Albert of Monaco ranged from e-cargo bike manufacturers to autonomous vehicle technology providers.

The EUSP was launched by Karima Delli, chairwoman of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism, and co-founded by Boston Consulting Group and Via ID.

Delli said: “We envisaged the EUSP as a response to global mobility challenges. An increased number of mobility startups took up the challenge this year, reassuring us in our belief that Europe can be the continent for innovation and helping our talent to work towards a better quality of life for all”.

Of the 570 startups that entered the awards, only 50 made it to the final, with 10 winners selected, including one chosen by public vote. The winning startups receive prizes including a European tour of five major technology hubs to meet potential investors and future clients.

Jean-François Dhinaux, Via ID strategy director, who is also an EUSP co-founder, added: “Due to the diversity and maturity of the projects, the second edition of the EUSP is a strong indication of a dynamic mobility market in Europe.”

Blickfeld at the EUSP for mobility

Blickfeld founder Florian Petit, Karima Delli chairwoman of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism, Luisa Martens from Blickfeld

EUSP winners 2019

Blickfeld – technology provider for autonomous mobility
Blickfeld LiDAR products meet the highest performance requirements at the cost and size needed for mass market adoption. Due to its range of configurable features, the German company’s technology provides solutions for multiple use-cases.

Cargoroo – shared e-cargo bikes
Dutch company Cargoroo offers shared electric cargo bikes in urban neighbourhoods. Its shared e-cargo bikes are a potential solution to moving people and cargo around congested cities, offering a sustainable and fast alternative to car ownership and city logistics.

Cityscoot – free floating electric scooters
Since 2016, Cityscoot has grown a fleet of 5,000 scooters in Paris, Nice, Milan and Rome. Users find a scooter nearby using a smartphone app and unlocks it with a four-digit code. The French company’s software includes insurance coverage and a free rental period.

Einride – all-electric autonomous vehicle services
Swedish company Einride provides all-electric, autonomous vehicles, or “T-pods”. The electrically-powered T-pod can be remote-controlled by an operator but is predominantly autonomous, which means it offers an increased load capacity, improved safety and lower operating costs.

Geovelo – software platform for cyclists
Geovelo is a French cycling-focused software platform, providing navigation and tracking software that offers real-time GPS navigation, with the option to report issues during a ride and check availability of free-floating bikes nearby. The company also provides a dashboard allowing local authorities to access data about the use bicycles in cities.

K-Ryole – electric bike trailer
K-Ryole is an electrically-assisted bike trailer, allowing riders to carry up to 250kg, enabling zero-emission delivery services for congested and polluted cities.

Karhoo – global marketplace for taxi and private hire vehicles
Karhoo is the a global marketplace for taxi and private hire vehicles. It connects thousands of fleets and their drivers to customer-facing companies. For example, if you are a hotel booking website wishing to provide your clients with transfers to their hotels, Karhoo allows you, through one contract, to offer a service.

OpenAirlines – eco-flying fuel cost killer
French company SkyBreathe offers an eco-flying solution that reduces aircraft fuel consumption by 2-5% without modifications, using software to guide pilots. Last year, it helped more than 30 airlines save $100 million and 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Shotl – mobility platform for public transport operators
Shotl is a Spanish mobility platform for transport operators, local authorities, corporations and business parks that matches multiple passengers headed in the same direction with a vehicle. Shotl mobility software helps public transport operators manage and dispatch efficient on-demand transportation services.

TWAICE – predictive battery analytics software
TWAICE supports enterprises across industries with predictive battery analytics software. The German company allows its customers to develop and use battery systems more efficiently and sustainably while making them more reliable and durable. Precise predictions of battery conditions and aging significantly optimize battery development and use.

Airbus, Celonis and Blickfeld won the German Innovation Award

Blickfeld wins the German Innovation Award 2019

The Munich-based LiDAR company Blickfeld has been awarded the German Innovation Award in the startup category. The jury rated the level of innovation and market opportunities of the new technology as major plus points.

Blickfeld wins the German Innovation Award in the startup category

As laudator in the start-up category, Wirtschaftswoche editor-in-chief Beat Balzli (right) honoured the founders of the company Blickfeld, Mathias Müller (centre) and Florian Petit (left).

The Munich-based LiDAR company took home the prize in the startup category. Blickfeld impressed the jury with its novel laser scanner technology (LiDAR). LiDAR produce high-resolution depth maps that are ideally suited for environmental perception. Unlike conventional sensors, Blickfeld has reinvented the laser beam deflection unit. The Blickfeld LiDAR scanners are therefore scalable, maintenance-free and wear-free and enable scanning with a long range, high resolution and a large field of view. They can therefore be used in autonomous mobility, but also in robotics, for example. The jury rated the level of innovation and market opportunities of the new technology as major plus points. Blickfeld, alongside Airbus and Celonis, were awarded the coveted trophy in the festive atmosphere of the Munich Kesselhaus in front of around 250 invited guests from business, politics, research and society.

Festive Gala for the German Innovation Award 2019

The German Innovation Award is an initiative of Accenture, EnBW, WirtschaftsWoche and ada. It is under the patronage of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy. The prize, which was launched in 2009, honors outstanding, forward-looking innovations by German companies that change business and markets with their innovative strength. The prize is awarded in the categories large companies, medium-sized companies and start-ups. In addition to new products, innovative business models, processes and services as well as organisational and marketing innovations are taken into account.
All submissions are evaluated by a jury of experts on the basis of their concept, level of innovation, market opportunities, market success and their relation to Germany as a business location.

Further information and details on the finalists and winners can be found at www.der-deutsche-innovationspreis.de

About Blickfeld 

Founded in 2017 and based in Munich, Germany, Blickfeld is a provider of cutting-edge LiDAR technology for autonomous mobility and IoT applications. The company has developed proprietary LiDAR technology based on patented silicon MEMS mirrors and commercial off-the-shelf components. The Blickfeld LiDAR product family meets the highest performance requirements at the cost and size needed for mass market adoption. Blickfeld’s team is made up of experienced professionals with renowned expertise in the fields of electronics, optics, MEMS and software. The company is backed by venture capital investors including Fluxunit (the corporate venture arm of lighting company Osram), High-Tech Gründerfonds, Tengelmann Ventures, and Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners.

Las Vegas CES fair

CES 2019 – All autonomous everything

LiDAR start-up Blickfeld increases seed funding to $ 10 million

Munich. The Munich-based LiDAR start-up Blickfeld has increased its seed funding to $ 10 million. All existing investors Fluxunit – OSRAM Ventures, High-Tech Gründerfonds, Tengelmann Ventures, and Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners participated in the round. The new financial resources will be used for the first series production and to further strengthen the team.

Blickfeld develops and produces LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors for environmental detection. The solid-state sensor developed by Blickfeld provides high-resolution, three-dimensional environmental data and is used in autonomous driving, in robotics and for the Internet of Things. Blickfeld’s patented technology makes high-tech LiDAR devices suitable for mass production.

The increase from $ 4.3 million to $ 10 million in the seed financing round completed just a few months ago will further accelerate the company’s rapid growth. Blickfeld co-founder and CEO, Dr. Mathias Müller: “We have made very good progress with our LiDAR technology in recent months. High international demand confirms the efficiency of the Blickfeld solution. The expansion in seed financing will enable us to bring our first series product to market even faster.”

Ulrich Eisele, Managing Director at Fluxunit – OSRAM Ventures, says: “Results from the first customer projects speak for themselves. That’s why we are expanding our activities at Blickfeld. We are convinced that Blickfeld’s LiDAR technology can be a key building block for the future market of autonomous driving.”

Founded in 2017 by Dr. Mathias Müller, Dr. Florian Petit and Rolf Wojtech, the start-up has grown considerably in recent months. Today, the Blickfeld team already numbers more than 35 employees. The company plans on hiring additional engineers, automotive experts and computer scientists in the upcoming months, as well as expanding its business-development, marketing and sales teams.

About Blickfeld 

Founded in 2017 and based in Munich, Germany, Blickfeld is a provider of cutting-edge LiDAR technology for autonomous mobility and IoT applications. The company has developed proprietary LiDAR technology based on patented silicon MEMS mirrors and commercial off-the-shelf components. The Blickfeld LiDAR product family meets the highest performance requirements at the cost and size needed for mass market adoption. Due to their range of configurable features, the Blickfeld LiDAR product family provides solutions for multiple use-cases. Blickfeld’s team is made up of experienced professionals with renowned expertise in the fields of electronics, optics, MEMS and software. The company is backed by venture capital investors including Fluxunit (the corporate venture arm of lighting company Osram), High-Tech Gründerfonds, Tengelmann Ventures, and Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners.

About Fluxunit – Osram Ventures 

Fluxunit is the independent venture capital unit of OSRAM. Building on OSRAM’s role as market leader, Fluxunit invests in high-tech start-ups that go beyond OSRAM’s core business and have the potential to break through and renew existing light-based technologies and business models. Fluxunit’s goal is to support, promote and accelerate the development of start-ups not only through investments but also through access to OSRAM’s resources as a global high-tech company.

www.fluxunit.de

About HTGF

High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) is a seed investor that finances high-potential, tech-driven start-ups. With € 892.5 million in total investment volume across three funds (€ 272 million in HTGF I, € 304 million in HTGF II and € 316.5 million for HTGF III) and an international partner network, HTGF has already backed up 500 start-ups since 2005. Driven by their expertise, entrepreneurial spirit and passion, its team of experienced investment managers and start-up experts help guiding the development of young companies. HTGF’s focus is on high-tech start-ups across a range of sectors, including software, media, internet, hardware, automation, health care, chemicals and life sciences. Up to now, external investors have invested over € 1,8 billion into the HTGF portfolio via more than 1,300 follow-on financing rounds. HTGF has also successfully exited shares of more than 90 companies.

Investors in this public-private partnership include the Federal Ministry For Economic Affairs and Energy, the KfW Banking Group, Fraunhofer- Gesellschaft e.V., as well as the companies ALTANA, BASF, BAYER, B.Braun, Boehringer Ingelheim, Robert Bosch, BÜFA, CEWE, Deutsche Post DHL, Dräger, Drillisch AG, EVONIK, EWE AG, Haniel, Hettich, Knauf, Körber, LANXESS, media + more venture Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. KG, PHOENIX CONTACT, Postbank, QIAGEN, RWE Generation SE, SAP, Schufa, Schwarz Gruppe, STIHL, Thüga, Vector Informatik, WACKER and Wilh. Werhahn KG.

www.high-tech-gruenderfonds.de/en

About Tengelmann Venture Capital 

Tengelmann Ventures (TEV) is one of Germany’s leading venture capital investors and has invested in over 50 companies over the past five years, many of which have become global players and market leaders in their particular segment. TEV focuses mainly on early- and later-stage investment in technology start-ups, internet marketplaces, and consumer internet companies. The team funds companies worldwide in the role as lead, co-lead or co-investor. In close cooperation with its global network of venture capitalists, professionals and consultants, Tengelmann Ventures always strives to identify promising start-ups and to support the development of its portfolio companies.

www.tev.de/en

About Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners 

Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners (UVC Partners) is a Munich-based early-stage venture capital firm that invests in technology-based start-ups in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. UVC Partners focuses on investments in the areas of industrial technologies, smart enterprises and mobility. The fund typically invests between € 0.5 – 3 million initially and up to € 12 million in total per company. Portfolio companies benefit from the extensive investment and exit experience of the management team as well as from the close cooperation with UnternehmerTUM, Europe’s leading innovation and business crea tion center. With over 180 employees and more than 100 industry partners, UnternehmerTUM can draw from many years of experience in establish ing young companies. This cooperation enables UVC Partners to offer start-ups unique access to talent, industry customers and other financial partners.

www.uvcpartners.com

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EIT difital challenge 2018 logo

Blickfeld nominated for the EIT Digital Challenge 2018

The EIT Digital Challenge aims to identify the best digital deep tech innovations – complex disruptive solutions that are built around unique and differentiated scientific or technological advances and fuel the digital transformation. The 25 finalists come from 11 different European countries and were selected out of 200 applications.

The finalists will compete in the EIT Digital Challenge 2018 for international growth support worth €750,000 in total. The winners will be awarded at the final pitch event in Brussels in October.

Blickfeld at Startup Competition Dahoam

Blickfeld is the winner of this year’s DAHO.AM start-up competition

“You made it. You fought. You convinced. You deserve it.” Those words are written on the DAHO.AM start-up challenge’s winner certificate. And we are beyond proud to have them hanging in our office.