How a Kaiserslautern startup is using smart solutions to improve disaster response.

They were on-scene with Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) during the catastrophic flood in the Ahr Valley – as relief workers, but also as a young startup team. The founders of inventied in Kaiserslautern want to make disaster response safer, more efficient, and more digital. In addition to raising disaster awareness and advocating for preparedness, a particularly sophisticated trailer design is one of their main tools.

The four minds behind the Kaiserslautern-based startup inventied know from own experience that in an emergency, every second counts. Through smart solutions – both digital and analog – they are therefore seeking to achieve nothing less than a great leap forward in the efficiency and safety of the emergency assistance provided in extreme situations.

To do this, they are using a 3D printer to manufacture prototypes for rescue equipment from their bright office located in a startup hub in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and are developing an online resilience platform for the general public that consolidates important information for emergencies – from contacts to checklists to video instructions on what to do in an emergency. Another part of inventied’s revolution is an ideas portal designed to accelerate innovative disaster response solutions. Emergency personnel from THW, the fire department, and other aid organizations can contribute via inventied approaches to solving problems gained from their work experience. From this input, the startup develops a market-ready product together with the emergency personnel. Marketing and sales are handled by inventied – and the emergency personnel share in the profits, of course.

„The project work then led to the startup inventied in early 2021.“


inventied’s greatest innovation, however, is located about an hour’s drive away at the THW site in Frankenthal. It is the so-called Vario-Load-Rescue, a flexible trailer body that holds all the equipment needed for rescue and recovery tasks. “The trailer is safe, variable, and quickly ready to be deployed,” says inventied co-founder Lukas Kalnik, pointing in the direction of the tightly packed shelves. Up to 1,400 items are stacked inside, including squared lumber, scaffolding systems, and construction props.

Kalnik is not just an industrial engineer, but also a locksmith. The prototype of the Vario-Load-Rescue was manufactured by hand out of many small parts. When it rolled out of the hall in Frankenthal, the local THW associations quickly came forward to request a similar trailer body.

In fact, the idea for this design dates back to their time at university. In 2017, Kalnik and fellow student Jan Schellhaaß wanted to write their joint bachelor’s thesis in a way that wouldn’t just be writing for writing’s sake. They soon found a problem that really bothered them: the fire department has trailers in which even the smallest tool has a place and is always ready for use at a moment’s notice, but at THW, with its 80,000 volunteers, this was somehow not standard equipment.

The project work then led to the startup inventied in early 2021. Finance pro Trang Lam and mechanical engineer Markus Weidmann are both also active in THW and have since joined the team. Right off the bat, the young company won the EXIST startup grant, a funding program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. After that, more awards quickly followed for the startup. Most recently, the bank Investitions- und Strukturbank Rheinland-Pfalz and three other investors contributed venture capital to inventied.



„In the field, we really saw where there were snags, what we could do better, and where solutions still needed to be found“


“Kaiserslautern is an ideal location for us,” Jan Schellhaaß comments. The team particularly appreciates the size of the city, which is not too small and not too big. According to Schellhaaß, this makes it the perfect size for networking and exchanging ideas with other exciting companies locally. In addition, Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences is a “hotbed of young talent, especially in the technical subjects.” And last but not least, the team agrees that the region around Betzenberg and beyond is simply also home.

The four saw just how important cohesion and teamwork are just a few months after the founding of the startup when the young team experienced its biggest possible initial deployment in July 2021. Kalnik, Lam, Schellhaaß, and Weidmann brought their innovative ideas and designs to the Ahr Valley, where they were present as both startup founders and THW relief workers. The team was shocked and profoundly moved by the destruction caused by the devastating flood and the fates of those affected. Their involvement on-site also had an impact on their innovative products: “In the field, we really saw where there were snags, what we could do better, and where solutions still needed to be found,” explains Weidmann.

However, it is not just technology that needs to be relied upon in the event of a disaster; people should also know what to do. “We want the public to be prepared if something happens,” Lam emphasizes. She opens one of the gray emergency boxes that inventied distributes online and via stores in the region. Emergency packages include items such as crank radios, water purifiers, 20-year shelf-stable protein bars, and USB sticks with a preset folder structure. “We don’t want to spread panic, but instead show a way to overcome fear,” Weidmann explains.

„It would be even better if we could use smart solutions to prevent the worst from happening, of course.“


For example, anyone who has lost a large part of their possessions in a flood will at least be happy if digitized documents such as birth certificates and architectural plans for their home are quickly at hand. Weidmann’s colleague Kalnik nods in agreement and adds thoughtfully, “It would be even better if we could use smart solutions to prevent the worst from happening, of course.”

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