Daring the Impossible, Trusting In What is ‘Underhyped’ & Using Tech As A Stepping Stone For Social Change
“How Can Technology Change Our World For Good?
How Can Startups Have Real Impact?
How Is Digitalisation Changing The Business World?
How Might We Create A Diverse Working Environment For Everyone?
What Is Actually Impossible?” – ATEC 2022
The Aachen Technology and Entrepreneurship Congress 2022
This year, the Aachen Technology and Entrepreneurship Congress (ATEC) started, among others, with an interesting game. Dan Ram, who delighted the audience with his enthusiasm as an Event MC & Speaker, asked the German investor and entrepreneur Frank Thelen whether particular ‘things’ are over- or underhyped in society! “Bitcoin – underhyped! Pineapple on Pizza – overhyped! The concept of love – underhyped – way bigger! Tesla – underhyped! Berlin – overhyped! ATEC – underhyped!”, Thelen exclaimed without much hesitation. But, whereas the founder and CEO of the deeptech seed stage VC firm Freigeist Capital made bold statements, he might himself agree that it will take a little longer to find innovative solutions which will effectively answer the above-mentioned questions…Technology can change our world, but it also has to be designed, mobilized, integrated, innovated etc. The latter reemphasizes that changing the world for good requires a certain time commitment, but maybe technology can slow down lifetime as it speeds up lifestyles?
If one thing is clear, then that technology will have to keep being monitored. It also might better be protected in the hands of the right people, but isn’t that a little utopic? Well, let’s stay optimistic and let’s examine first – why Berlin might be overhyped and why Aachen might be underhyped! If you are a migrant entrepreneur of the first generation seeking for answers with regard to your relocation to Germany, then you might wonder – what is this city even about? Aachen might not directly stand out if you have a background in political science, media and communications, international relations, the performing arts, humanities or law – but it certainly stands out, when it comes to the fields of engineering, business, the natural sciences and medicine. Being home to both, the RWTH Aachen University, which has made it to rank 108 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022, and the University Hospital Aachen, which belonged to one of the 250 best hospitals in the world in 2021, the City of Aachen might truly continue the legacy of Charles the Great, or Charlemagne, who has been referred to as the “mythical forefather of Europe and the founding father of […] France and Germany”. But what does this entail today?
Among others, the obligation to address societal issues such as climate change and discrimination alongside contributing innovation in the domain of tech to make societies function more effectively. The ATEC was all about DeepTech, but also sustainability! As the digitalHUB Aachen states in its most recent article about the ATEC, “the most pressing question [at the event was probably]: How can start-ups have real impact in terms of sustainability?” Rather than answering this question in a one-sided manner, it could arguably be an idea to get inspired by the eight start-ups who partook in the pitch battle of the Sustainability Panel: AllCup, Assemblean, CDL Therapeutics, Gemesys, Kasaira, Urban Ray, Timetap and Zeiko. The winner of the pitch battle, Timetap, is a Maastricht-based tech start-up whose mission it is, to tidy up and digitize your business schedule! From 24/7 online booking to client management, automated waitlists, custom booking sites, intelligent travel time and automated recall campaigns, the features of Timetap assure flexibility and an excellent time management. Find out what the other start-ups do below:
AllCup GmbH developed an edible recyclable cup to enjoy an ice cream, wherever you dare and please. Based on the fact that 320,000 disposable cups are sold in Germany every hour, as the FH Münster points out, three entrepreneurs, namely Lara Wagemann, Sarah Theresa Schulte and Martin Nauen, chose to find a solution that is tight, heat-resistant and compatible with the feel we might want to have, when we enjoy an ice cream.
Assemblean GmbH was founded by Xiaojun Yang and Alexander Pöhler in 2019. With both Yang and Pöhler engaging in research at the University of Paderborn at the Institute for Lightweight Design with Hybrid Systems (IHL) respectively at the Heinz Nixdorf Institut, an interdisciplinary research institute with a focus on intelligent technical systems, Assemblean’s mission to provide clients “with the best production services” is inspired by their expertise for intelligent production technologies. Despite being located in Paderborn, Assemblean has production sites in Shanghai and Yanta in China.
- CDL Therapeutics
CDL Therapeutics was co-founded in 2020 by Christian Reinhardt, the Director of the Clinic for Hematology at the University Hospital Essen, with the purpose to engage in “biotechnological research and the development, production and distribution of biotechnological products and solutions of all kinds”. CDL Therapeutics made it to rank 3 of the pitch battle being supported by Plug & Play, an international accelerator programme that supports innovators in multiple domains such as fintech, insurtech, IoT, brand & retail, mobility, health, supply chain & logistics, energy etc.
Gemesys Technologies’ mission “is to build a computer inspired by the human brain to fuel the progress of humankind”. In other words, the Bochum-based start-up, which is led by Dennis Michaelis, Enver Solan and Moritz Schmidt, is specialized in disruptive computing performance.
In 2021, the Dortmund-based start-up Kasaira, which was founded by Sarah Kosmann, Karolina Jagielleo and Johanna Weiland, received support through the EXIST start-up stipend to make sure that businesses shield their employees well-enough from building noise, which can make working rather difficult and unhealthy.
- Urban Ray
What makes Urban Ray’s mission particularly exciting, is that the Aachen-based start-up delivers goods by air. And its drones have not only inspired others at the ATEC – Urban Ray has already gained the support of NASA and the German Aerospace Center as part of the NASA/DLR Design Challenge 2020.
Zeiko is a Liège-based start-up that was actually just founded in August 2020 by Nicolas Mahiat and Rémi Raimondi, a robotics and an AI engineer, both of which were coached through the VentureLab Belgium. In a nutshell, Zeiko works on effective communication through 3D technology to ensure customer satisfaction.
Aachen – A City For Entrepreneurs
Designing ‘Large-Scale’, Science-Based Innovation In A ‘Small-Scale’ Town
Now that the ATEC took place in Aachen, it might surely be worth exploring why Aachen does indeed deserve to be called a ‘city of entrepreneurs’. As mentioned in our earlier article, Aachen was ranked 3rd in North Rhine-Westphalia’s Start-Up Ecosystem having brought forth at least 203 start-ups. Hosting the Digital Hub in its ‘Digital Church’, Aachen offers an exciting environment, where start-ups can easily meet one another. With support of both, the RWTH Aachen University and the FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences, entrepreneurs are assured to be part of a well-connected network and might have a good chance to promote their work including through their participation in events such as the Aachen Technology and Entrepreneurship Congress (ATEC) and Aachen’s Startup Week, which also took from 16th to 20th May 2022.
Being supported by the Gründer Region Aachen (‘Founder’s Region Aachen’) network, Digitale Wirtschaft NRW (‘Digital Economy NRW’) and the Exzellenz Start-Up Center NRW, and being sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWi) and the EXIST programme, the Startup Week Aachen is an event that annually brings together entrepreneurs and local networks. With the ATEC having taken place on 17th May 2022 as part of the Startup Week Aachen, both events offered a good chance to meet with “innovators and decision makers from business, politics and academia”. The latter might demonstrate that founders indeed need not go to Berlin to provide their work with a mission. Change can start at the local level and Aachen offers enough opportunities to scale up innovation at the national level.
Whether or not Aachen is a city for everyone is of course another question. Rather than Berlin’s exciting, multi-cultural ‘chaos and vastness’, Aachen has a little more peace and calm to offer – its population is tendentially a little older, but Aachen also has a huge student population and young families have taken over the city a bit from older generations. The traditional architecture of its old town offers a unique charm and an inspiring environment to gather new ideas. So, in case you ever visit Aachen or consider relocating to Aachen – take a stroll and sit down to take in the majestic view of the Aachener Dom, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afterwards, take a little tour starting at the Centre Charlemagne, a museum that tells the history of the city of Aachen. Afterwards, enjoy a coffee and a piece of cake at Karls Café or just directly witness the beauty of the Aachener Dom from there, best views guaranteed. If you have some more time, do not fail to walk around and connect with some of the entrepreneurs at the RWTH Aachen University. Networking here is easy, after Aachen is small enough to make a start…
By the way, according to the Deutscher Startup Monitor 2021, which is established annually by the German Startups Association (Bundesverband Deutsche Startups e.V.), PWC and netSTART, RWTH Aachen University was the top ‘start-up university’ in 2021 promoting the most founders (5,3%) after the Otto Beisheim School of Management – WHU (3,6%) and the Technical University Munich (TUM). Despite the city’s size, RWTH Aachen University hence provides a huge network for founders with a background in business, macroeconomics, engineering and the natural sciences – the fields, which most founders in Germany come from! Thrilled to find out more? Then pay the city a visit. After all, good ideas come from ‘experience’ – and we need to let ourselves experience our innovations before we can sell them to others!
Whether you are interested in starting up or expanding your business in Aachen or another German city, our team is ready to support you on the legal side! We are both specialized in supporting multicultural businesses in Germany, in supporting African businesses in Germany and in supporting businesses across various African jurisdictions. While our support starts with providing help on immigration and relocation matters, it does not stop there – taxes, tech, intellectual property…You heard us! We are truly enthusiastic about business, international trade and knowledge exchanges and want to support businesses with innovative missions from their initial founding phase to their regional expansion. Contact us today to find out more and find out about any potential synergies.