Shaping the economy with artificial intelligence
Eight north German start-ups are now taking part in the AI.Startup.Hub’s first scheme and demonstrating how business and industry can benefit from artificial intelligence (AI). Their business models range from fully automated maintenance (ai-omatic solutions), entire production lines (Panda), easy data analysis of customer opinions (Cauliflower) to visualizing climate risks (Repath). The German Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) has earmarked EUR 3.8 million for the "AI.Startup.Hub Hamburg" after counting Hamburg among four model artificial intelligence regions. The project is a joint effort by six stakeholders in science and industry to boost start-ups specialising in the technology amid ongoing digitalisation. Additional funds have been earmarked for AI prototypes by teams interested in starting up.
AI Ideation and AI Accelerator schemes
"This money allows us to launch two six-month schemes, namely AI Ideation for developing AI prototypes and the AI Accelerator scheme, which leads start-ups to market maturity with our partners," said Alois Krtil CEO of the Artificial Intelligence Center (ARIC) and partner of AI.Startup.Hub. While the first scheme helps young teams to develop a prototype before they have founded their start-up, the AI Accelerator scheme targets existing AI start-ups. The teams can take part in modules such as Incubation & Acceleration, Go-to-Market Strategy or International Scale Up. "We lend our support to the founders using the know-how in our network. If they have further queries, for instance, about online marketing or deep tech, we bring in external professionals," he added.
Support from idea to scale
The AI Accelerator scheme started in May and is going "extremely well" while the AI Ideation scheme began in October with a first winter batch, said Krtil. Workshops on product market fit are proving popular. "They discuss questions about the business plan, identify the core business, build up the team and draft industry-specific marketing. And we talk a lot about scaling: 'How do I develop an AI business model and get it to take off - domestically and internationally?'" Founders are supported at every step - from the idea to the scaling pf AI, he pointed out. Depending on the content, the workshops and modules take place at the TU Hamburg, at ARIC (Docklands) or at AI.Hamburg in the city of Hamburg, as well as in various co-working spaces.
Diverse uses of AI
The Cauliflower start-up uses AI to analyse customer opinions on social media channels, reviews and customer feedback. Panda, a spin-off of Helmut Schmidt University/University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg (HSU), offers a homogeneous, AI-enabled infrastructure of machine and sensor data for monitoring production processes, while ai-omatic's software uses a combination of statistical methods and neural networks to detect machines on the verge of breakdowns early and to optimize maintenance.
Benefits for business and society
Other start-ups in the batch have also come up with exciting business models, Krtil stressed, adding: "Verlingo uses AI in application and HR processes and works in accordance with the latest, stringent data protection guidelines. Dealcode optimises sales based on customer relationship management systems, while Adtriba offers an AI-based tool for measuring and controlling marketing activities." The Repath start-up identifies climate risks in their customers' supply chains and Katulu enables the use of AI without sharing data thanks to a collaborative data ecosystem. A delighted Krtil said: "Even the first batch shows what AI start-ups can do for business and society."
Other parts in our series on "Idea Accelerators":
The AI.Startup.Hub is a merger of Hamburg Innovation GmbH, AI for Hamburg GmbH (AI.Hamburg) and the Artificial Intelligence Center Hamburg (ARIC). Hamburg Innovation GmbH is a knowledge and technology transfer company involving public universities and links up science with business and politics. AI for Hamburg GmbH is a private non-profit organization that promotes the use of AI and machine learning across the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. ARIC serves as a link between application-orientated research and practical application in AI. The "MachineLearning in Engineering" initiative by the Technical University of Hamburg (TUHH), German Entrepreneurship, which specializes in scaling up start-ups, and the consulting firm Exponential Innovation Institute are also involved in the hub.