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Vaillant awards start-up grant to Cognigy

The Vaillant Group’s STARTPLATZ grant awarded to start-up developer of a voice-control platform. The technology is potentially usable for voice-activated heating control.

The Vaillant Group is helping Düsseldorf company Cognigy get up and running with a start-up grant. Cognigy is currently developing an innovative voice-control technology together with an associated range of cloud-based services. As part of the grant, the founders are invited to make use of the infrastructure and network offered by Cologne-based start-up forum STARTPLATZ. They will also be given advice and support in the long term from an experienced team of mentors comprising managers from different divisions of the Vaillant Group.

STARTPLATZ acts as an accelerator and meeting place for the start-up scene in the Rhine region, supporting young founders in their strategic development and helping them successfully implement their entrepreneurial ideas. Grants are awarded at regular intervals together with partners from the business world. Furthermore, founders can take advantage of co-working spaces, attend a start-up academy and participate in an extensive range of workshops, talks and consultation sessions.

Cognigy aims to provide its users with a way of communicating with their devices and objects using natural spoken language There are many overlapping areas and application possibilities of interest to us. Dr Rolf Tappe, Director Digital Transformation at the Vaillant Group
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As part of their pitch, the Cognigy founders impressively reinforced just how diverse the potential cases of application are in terms of intelligent voice control. They explained that the spectrum ranges from interactive toys and an entirely new video gaming experience to remote healthcare and the integration of speech into online shops and smart-home appliances in buildings. Cognigy is looking to offer companies an all-round solution that will enable their products and applications to be controlled based on interaction with speech. An especially promising area of application for the Vaillant Group is the voice control of heating systems. This would allow homeowners to use their heating system and control their indoor climate in a completely new and fully intuitive way.

Venture activities and collaborations with partners and start-ups play a pivotal role in the Vaillant Group’s digital strategy,

explains Tappe. “We are specifically looking to engage in a mutual exchange. Many start-ups have innovative approaches and apply unconventional methods. They often work in a flexible and cross-functional way. Cooperating with young companies allows us not only to help shape business models from which we, as a manufacturer of heating technology solutions, can benefit in the medium term; it also provides us with important stimuli for adapting our own company structures and work methods. As innovator, our goal is to drive digitalisation forward in our industry.”

In return, the Vaillant Group offers its start-up partners numerous resources and structured support. This includes cross-functional mentoring that links into specific departments of our internationally active, long-established company, also at management level, besides facilitating links to other market players, industry associations and institutions, thus enabling sector-specific networking. If the synergy works for both parties, it may also be possible to jointly implement a business model.