Start-ups on the fast lane
The new Adlershof Accelerator promotes new companies in a number of sectors
There are accelerator programmes all over Europe. They help start-ups to enter markets at record speed. And both national and international companies are focusing heavily on Berlin: this city is the federal and accelerator capital of Germany. The new Adlershof Accelerator promotes new companies in a number of sectors.
Apart from having a good product, it was most important for Thomas Grandoch to have one thing at his disposal at the beginning of his career: contacts. In 2013, Grandoch, a graduate of the Berlin University of Arts and his partners had developed the first version of a software that businesses could use to activate search engine advertisements as soon as a similar article appeared in a TV spot. At the ProSiebenSat.1 Accelerator event, Grandoch and his team from storyfeed GmbH met with the managers of the TV broadcasting group. “Start-ups usually find it very difficult to forge contacts with these potential customers and investors,” explained Grandoch.
Accelerators offer primarily excellent networking opportunities that set them apart from the classical incubators. Moreover, the participants are given intensive coaching. The product development with potential customers and the compact structure accelerate the start-up. “If you have to report weekly on your progress, you’re under a lot of encouraging pressure,” claimed Philipp Stelzer, Managing Director of the Berlin start-up Task 36 GmbH. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) he and his colleagues developed a project control software based on artificial intelligence for the automation of time consuming planning phases. Like storyfeed, Task 36 GmbH moved into the new Charlottenburg Innovation Centre CHIC in spring this year.
Berlin has evolved into the unofficial accelerator capital of Germany. According to the city’s Senate Administration for Economics, a new incubator, accelerator, or digital laboratory is opening nearly every month. At the beginning of next year, the Adlershof-based WISTA-MANAGEMENT GMBH will be launching its own initiative, the Adlershof Accelerator. “It will give start-ups greater independence than comparable offers because participants don’t have to cede their holdings. The sponsor is not a single group. There are several SMEs that together form the entire value chain in a sector,” explained WISTA Managing Director Roland Sillmann.
The first programme line of the Adlershof Accelerator will be open to start-ups in the energy sector. The project could win over partners in the form of GASAG Berliner Gaswerke AG, as well as the power station operator BTB Blockheizkraftwerks- Träger- und Betreibergesellschaft mbH, Stromnetz Berlin, and the German Association of Energy Market Innovators. These project partners finance the start-ups for the duration of the office and living space programme and provide intensive mentoring. The target e.g. is a prototype that the start-ups can have tested by a renowned institute, or a first reference project with one of the partners.
The programme duration of up to six months varies from sector to sector, with energy followed by optics, medical engineering, and the Internet of Things. WISTA is convinced that the Adlershof Accelerator will attract to this Berlin location start-ups from Germany and later from all over Europe.
By Manuel Berkel for Adlershof Special