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TechScale Berlin: Where were the Berlin startups at CES 2020?

EXB resident techxpert Jewell Sparks on the disappointing lack of Berlin startups at this year's CES. With AI the hot topic, there are plenty of Berlin companies that could have benefitted from the visibility. We need to change this for CES 2021.

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Photo courtesy of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), copyright CES. CES 2020 attendees.

I have just returned from CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is my fifth year in a row in attendance and this show lives up to its reputation as being one of the largest and most influential technology events that provides access to transformative technology solutions across various industries and marketplaces. This year technology solutions such as 5G, augmented and virtual reality, smart home, smart cities, automotive, digital health and artificial intelligence were further developed and these technologies and solutions were no longer just a vision of the future, but became more of a reality. “CES illustrated that every company is truly a tech company,” said Karen Chupka, executive vice president of CES. “Global technology brands blended with non-traditional tech companies to showcase how innovation is furthering business across all markets – setting the stage for the decade ahead.”

Next year’s opportunity

As I was walking through the startup area of Eureka Park, I was disappointed with the lack of visible German startups on the floor. Earlier this week Germany was even ranked first for entrepreneurship by U.S. News and World Report, with high scores in the areas of infrastructure, skilled labor, technological expertise and education. Therefore seeing that French tech startups at Eureka Park were the largest group of any other country, even surpassing the number of U.S. startups showcasing at the CES innovation exhibition, I started to think about how to ensure the visibility of Berlin startups during CES 2021. There were 414 French startups in Eureka Park, followed by 293 from the U.S. and 107 from South Korea according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the organiser of CES. 

The opportunity to build awareness of startups from Germany and Berlin is HUGE… With over 4500 exhibitors and 170,000 industry professionals in attendance, it was a bit difficult to see everything, but this is the place to expose our capital’s startups. I want to see at least 100 startups from Berlin at CES 2021, who wants to help me make this happen?

The buzz and how Berlin fits in

The big technology buzz during CES 2020 was artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) as we all expected. However, since the dominant theme of AI was seen and hyped throughout the show floors, it appears that this will be a key ingredient technology for years to come. According to the Applied AI initiative from UnternehmerTUM, there are approximately 214 AI startups in Germany, which is a 62 percent increase over the previous year states Andreas Liebl who leads the initiative. Approximately 40 percent of Germany’s AI companies are located in Berlin, 20 percent in Munich, while Hamburg is in third place.

German AI startups have raised €1.2 billion in venture capital over the past 10 years and some startups from other countries receive this much funding individually. Again, there seems to be a chicken and egg problem. We have the talent, the expertise and the companies, but more funding and adoption by mainstream companies is needed to scale our smaller ones. Only four percent of German AI startups employ more than 100 people which also contributes to the lack of manpower and resources that our talented companies are willing to sacrifice to take the journey to an event such as CES.

Kudos and future goals

As AI, IoT, privacy and security intersect, Berlin startups have the opportunity to become more valued on a global scale. I am aware of the attendance of two Berlin startups who journeyed across the pond in the AI and IoT space (kudos to  German Autolabs and pi.pe), but here are a few Berlin AI and security specific startups from Berlin who would have also benefitted from visibility during CES 2020.

Adjust considers themselves to be the industry leader in mobile measurement and fraud prevention. Adjust’s Fraud Prevention Suite proactively stops fraud before it happens. According to Crunchbase the company was founded in 2012 by Christian Henschel, Manuel Kniep and Paul Müller and has raised $255.9M. Customers include N26, Zynga, Hotel Tonight and runtastic just to name a few. This company is a perfect layer to add to various enterprise solutions as they build more AI and IoT connected solutions that are controlled by mobile devices.

AcrolinX provides highly scalable and proven AI software for enterprise content creation. The company has received $60M in funding and was founded by Andrew Bredenkamp and Sabine Lehmann. As content becomes king, AcrolinX captures the way an enterprise communicates, aligns content with a company’s guidelines and uses automation to shorten the editorial process. This company was founded in 2002 and still only employs fewer than 200 people. Content was everywhere during CES and is becoming a standard for all organisations as they compete to remain relevant and showcase new products and services.

XAIN builds technology to scale AI training. Founded in 2017 by Felix Hahmann, Leif Nissen Lundbaek and Michael Huth, the company employs less than 20 people. The company has received $6M over two rounds since being founded. XAIN’s Federated Learning platform enables the machine learning pipeline of any enterprise to become automatically compliant in privacy regulations. Every company would benefit from this solution as various techniques are being used to teach computers to learn, reason, perceive, communicate and make decisions similar to or better than humans. Privacy matters.

Zeitgold is an AI company providing a complete solution for the financial administration of small businesses. Founded in 2015 by Jan Deepen, Kobi Eldar and Stefan Jeschonnek with less than 200 employees the company has received a total of $24.4M over four rounds. Zeitgold empowers business owners to get bookkeeping, payroll, invoice payment, collections and coordination with tax advisors and more. In order for companies to comply with dynamic market changes, financial administration is a must for any enterprise. 

There are many other companies that should be on this list. My goal is to identify at least 10 companies spanning the areas of IoT, AI, mobility, health and manufacturing over the next year and work with the German ministry and corporate players to take a visible delegation to CES 2021. Berlin has the startups, talent and the expertise to also dominate an area within Eureka Park. Looking forward to seeing you there next year!

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