What German AI Startups Are Doing In 2020

We want to know: How are German startups doing when it comes to artificial intelligence?

And how about startups in Germany in general — especially those focused on fields of important innovation?

73 percent of German startups have been affected by changes ushered in by COVID-19 or their existence has been threatened. In order to strengthen the German economy’s talent for innovation once the pandemic is over, raw potential must be more effectively harnessed — especially in vital fields of technology such as artificial intelligence (AI). After all, alongside large companies such as IBM with Watson or Google, it is predominantly startups who are developing AI-based business ideas.

We wanted to find out how relevant AI is for German startups. What fields and industries are AI-startups most active in? And what exactly do they use the AI for? 

This is why, together with the Federal Association of German Startups (Bundesverband deutsche Startups), we are conducting an AI study. Using the title “Applied AI – Where are German startups?,” our study will examine the startup ecosystem and is intended to provide an overview of the AI startup landscape in Germany. Which areas and industries are these startups most active in? And how does Germany compare to other countries on the world stage? 

The following three aspects will be foregrounded:

1. An overview of current fields of use: Where and how is AI used by German startups? 

2. A systematic comparison will be drawn between AI startups in Germany and those in Israel, one of the worldwide innovation hotspots for AI. This comparison will make both the potential and challenges implicit in the German ecosystem more visible.

3. The effects on digital ethics: Using the fields of application as a jumping off point, social debates as to the aspects of responsibility, explainability, self-determination, equal opportunities, security and protection – are conducted and classified. 

Here, too, the juxtaposition of Germany and Israel — with their very different understandings of data handling — opens up new perspectives.  

Early results suggest AI is highly relevant to startups in Germany. For a good 40 percent of German startups, AI has a marked influence on their business models. This makes startups a central player in the application of AI solutions. For these startups, a strong focus is on “Software-as-a-Service”. For example, around four out of ten AI startups are active in this area, in comparison to just under 23 percent in the German startup ecosystem as a whole.

It is also apparent that fields such as robotics, natural language processing or customer service are relatively strongly represented in Germany. Other areas such as agriculture, education, entertainment, HR and security are less popular amongst German startups compared to Israel’s offerings. 

These are early findings that whet the appetite for more. I am curious to see what else the study will make tangible. 

Stay tuned. We will present our results later this year.

I’m looking forward to it!

Axel Menneking, director of hubraum

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