Berlin, famous for cheap rents, crazy parties and a good infrastructure, is nowadays also associated with startup culture and entrepreneurship. Just this week I read that Germany was ranked first for entrepreneurship (among many other factors) compared to all other countries and that especially Berlin attracts hungry founders, international talent and slowly more and more investments as well.
With a developing startup scene, accelerators also find their place among the crowds. By the end of 2015 the city counted with more than 15 accelerators of which ten are really worth mentioning for having found their place, for having contributed to the growth of startups and the scene and for having brought interest wind to the city.
An overview of the accelerators
Microsoft Ventures opened their branch in Berlin in the summer of last year and with their head of program Marius Sewing they have brought the first batch of seven startups from all around the world through their three months acceleration program which ended with an impressive Demo Night at Microsoft’s Unter den Linden Office. Techstars made their first steps in the Berlin scene at roughly the same time, launching the first group of 8 startups in June of 2015 and applying learnings from famous Techstars programs all around the world here in Berlin. In November of last year Techstars branched out and offered a very gastronomy focused acceleration together with Metro Group and R/GA advertisement agency.
New in town is also the DB Accelerator backed by Deutsche Bahn, the German railway provider, which focuses on energy and mobility and is currently leading its second batch of startups at their new Mindbox office at Jannowitzbrücke. A similar accelerator, focused on mobility and sustainability is Climate KIC emerging out of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) focussed on addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Hub:Raum, backed by Telekom, has been active far longer in Berlin and has been able to create a name for themselves and a standing for their big co-working style office in the otherwise quiet Schöneberg area. Pro Sieben / Sat 1 continue being busy with their acceleration, constantly selecting and advising startups, now counting up to 34 participations. Plug and Play, another media focused matchmaking accelerator, this one backed by Axel Springer, is also very active and counts wth 233 participations in various startups. Their approach is quiet unique and has inspired many others and prompted organisations to review their program. You is Now, behind which the platform immobilienscout24 hides its face is also an important player wit 27 alumni so far. Thinking about the more settled programs in Berlin, one cannot forget Startupbootcamp, founded by Alex Farcet, who so far have created the most extensive network especially here in Europe.
As you can see there are many different accelerators and many different models, some backed by Corporates, some led by investor networks and others co-funded by government or community initiatives. It is interest to take a closer look at each of these forms and their representatives in order to understand what is going on in the accelerator business in Berlin.