EIC meets Berlin: the place where innovation is embedded in the city’s DNA
On 15 December 2020 the European Innovation Council (EIC) virtually touched down in Berlin, the final stop of this year’s new series of EIC Innovation Hub Visits. The Germany capital, more than just a cultural and artistic hub, has developed into one of Europe’s top start-up hubs, attracting founders, investors and companies from all over the world.
The Berlin Innovation Hub Visit featured several reverse pitching sessions, with Berlin-based corporates and investors like Edeka, Bosch, Henkel, Pfizer and Seed+Speed Ventures complemented by informative session on how to set up a company or how to attract Berlins’ best talent. Besides, we featured Berlin’s local support organisation through expert interviews and offered our Community a flavour of a company’s life in Berlin from your local start-up peers.
Berlin: a re-invented city
Berlin is a city that historically underwent many transformations, people had to adapt to new realities every so often. But that is exactly what makes Berlin one of the most vibrant start-up hubs in Europe right now. With new companies popping up every 20 minutes, Berlin can surely be labelled as one of Europe’s most attractive breeding grounds for innovation. Moreover, with 50% of start-ups established by non-German founders, the city lives up to its international reputation.
“Change and innovation is embedded in the city’s DNA. The people here are so open to it”, Vivian Otto, Manager E-health and Innovation at Pfizer’s Healthcare Hub mentioned. Combine a cultural inclination towards innovation with good housing prices and quality of living, and you got yourself a perfect mix: “Berlin traditionally didn’t have a lot of large corporates in the 90s and early 2000s. It did have this great alternative culture, with room to experiment, East and West, and try out new things”, Alexander Kölpin, Managing Director at Seed+Speed Ventures noted. In addition, Berlin houses great start-up programmes, many of them supported by (regional) governments: “The regional authorities promote innovation. All innovation players here want to work together,’ not just for the sake of innovation, but also for the region” Vivian continued.
Vivian and Alexander were both very eager to get to know the EIC-portfolio, with Alexander noting that “events are rare nowadays, so I’m happy when someone takes a leap of faith. We need to find founders and founders need to find us”. The same applied to Vivian who commented that “Pfizer believes digital is the future. But we do need the cooperation of external partners and innovators to make this happen, that’s why it was a great opportunity to attend a day like this.”
Contentflow: coming live to a stream near you
EIC-funded company ‘Contentflow’ provides a new and disruptive way of complete livestreaming and advanced analytics and its founder and CEO Sebastian Serafin is a true ‘Berliner’. Although he was raised in Berlin and founded his company Contentflow in the German capital, he didn’t get too much in touch with the Berlin innovation scene these past years, until the ‘EIC Innovation Hub Visit’ event explaining that “we got investments from all around the world, we never really connected to our own backyard. I saw this day as an opportunity to do so”. Contentflow has just recently won a €2.3 million grant from the EIC, but Sebastian is already reaping the benefits: “Thanks to the EIC’s support we are no longer just fundraising but planning three, four years ahead and looking at new strategic partners.” With innovations players like Henkel, Bayer and Pfizer on display, Sebastian had the opportunity to meet with plenty of potential clients: “I was looking for direct contacts with customers and investors, so I could follow up down the line. It’s really hard to cold-call and that’s what I appreciate about the EIC, now I have a reason to get back to people and follow-up. It helps so much, you can’t quantify this”.
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