Smart Surface

We are looking for startups to dynamically alter our vehicle exteriors by the use of new surface materials.
Win a 50.000€ pilot project and the chance for a long-term partnership with BASF, the world’s leading chemical company. Apply in five minutes for a chance to win!

Startup Requirements

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Your startup has a digital technology, product or prototype, not just consulting services
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Your solution can be further adapted to the vehicle market and to BASF’s needs
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Further experience with displays, flexible OLED technologies made for vehicles or other outdoor settings is a plus
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There are no restrictions regarding location, company age, or team size to apply for this partnership
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For this challenge universities, institutes and research teams are also welcome!


The Challenge

As the world’s leading chemical company,  BASF Group is made up of subsidiaries and joint ventures in more than 80 countries and has 115.000 employees worldwide. The coatings division of BASF is a global expert in the development, production and marketing of innovative and sustainable automotive OEM and refinish coatings, and decorative paints. BASF also specializes in surface treatments for metal, plastic and glass substrates in a wide range of industries.

We are looking for a startup that is able to alter our vehicle surface designs in near real time and radically improve the speed, ease, and frequency of visual displays on vehicle exteriors.

BASF is looking into possibilities for changing the look of a vehicle several times over the course of its lifetime. Imagine we could display any type of content on the surface of a vehicle in an outdoor environment. Also imagine that we could soon witness the attachment of live content, clips, moving pictures, lights, and other designs on the exterior surface of vehicles! That is our goal.

Our Expectations

Already think of us as your customer or distribution partner. For this project, we need your startup to adapt your existing technology, product or prototype to the vehicle market. By the end of the project, we expect to have a solution that provides more customization options for vehicle exteriors that we can offer to our customers in the automotive industry.

Your product, technology or prototype should be able to address the following questions: 

  • How can we bring a flexible screen to any type of vehicle surface design?
  • How can we make frequent car exterior customization faster, and more feasible?
  • What options exist to provide more customizable possibilities to car bodies for advertising and informational purposes?
  • How can this be done in a way that adds value to a vehicle owner?

The Process

Please take five minutes to quickly describe your solution. 

After the application deadline, our selection committee will invite up to five finalists to deliver their pitch at a representative BASF location. You will speak with key decision-makers during your visit, and also be compensated for your travel and lodging expenses.

We will then  choose up to three winners for a 50.000€ pilot project. Upon successful completion of the project, startups can officially list BASF as their customer or client. A decision will also be made on whether or not to enter a long-term partnership and whether to roll out  your startup’s solution regionally or even worldwide. 


Your budget is up to 50.000€ for a 3-6 month project.

Get a substantial starting budget

Your budget is up to 50.000€ for a 3-6 month project.
We know that HR solutions require time and resources, and we want you to have both.
A pilot project is just the beginning...

Win BASF as a long-term partner

A pilot project is just the beginning...
After the pilot project, list BASF as a reference on your website and negotiate a local or global rollout of your solution. We want to become your long-term business partner.
Don’t pay to pitch your solution.

Travel and lodging are covered

Don’t pay to pitch your solution.
If we invite you for a pitch, we will cover your travel and lodging expenses.

Project terms

Access the project terms(PDF) here.


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    Application Deadline (extended) 2019-02-17 23:59 CET
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    Application Feedback 2019-02-28 23:59 CET
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    Pitch @BASF 2019-03-19 14:30 CET
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    Start of Pilot Project (50K €) 2019-04-15 14:30 CEST
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    Start of Rollout Discussions 2019-10-01 14:30 CEST

Selection Committee

Thomas Paschkowski Digital Technology Scout, BASF
Thomas is responsible for scouting out and introducing innovative technologies based on industry 4.0 specifics - such as smart manufacturing, smart supply chain, and digital business models.
Fabian Pape Expert for Advanced Analytics & Digital Sales, BASF Coatings
Timothee Baret Head of Digital, BASF Coatings
Harald Borgholte VP Strategic Planning, BASF Coatings
Dr. Thomas Gottschalk Cluster Head Smart Innovation & Technology, BASF 4.0
Thomas drives significant parts of the senior project “BASF 4.0”, which was formed to lead the digital transformation in chemicals. He reports to the Chief Digital Officer. His cluster executes over 30 explorative lighthouse projects and scale-up programs of proven solutions in Europe, North America, and Asia. 

About Digital Challenges

With the digital challenges BASF invites startups to solve real problems and to become a longterm business partner. BASF offers first project budgets between 50.000 and 100.000€. Let's explore digital opportunities together. The deadlines are approaching soon! 
Learn More

Contact Octorank

Mailé Biraben
Octorank Project Manager