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Startups at CEBIT: Showtime for tomorrow's market leaders

The new CEBIT is Europe's leading event for startups. And it's all down to scale11, a highly successful showcase for founders and entrepreneurs. scale11 is a springboard for hip and creative new business ideas from Germany and around the world. Held in Hall 27 this June, it will give more than 350 young enterprises from 40 nations the opportunity to network with market incumbents, investors and other lateral thinkers

22 May. 2018

Almost every day, it seems, young entrepreneurs are coming up with innovative ideas with the potential to disrupt classic business models in all kinds of sectors, whether finance, energy, health or retail. And yet, according to a recent industry study, 65 percent of German firms with 20 or more employees still do not have any kind of partnership with startups, and only 8 percent provide capital to startups.

BVDS fostering cooperation between established corporations and startups

To remedy this situation, the German Startups Association (BVDS) – one of the partners of CEBIT's scale11 platform – recently established the Digital Germany Council (Kuratorium Digitales Deutschland), a body of experts from government, science and business tasked with facilitating and enhancing cooperation between startups, SMEs and global corporations. “One thing we've found again and again over the five years we have been operating is that startups are heavily dependent on market incumbents, particularly during their growth phase," explains BVDS Chairman Florian Nöll. “But we also see the converse – traditional market participants benefitting from the innovative perspective provided by startups.

More and more startups from Germany

The good news is, the number of German startups making a big splash on the market is rising. To quote a recent analysis undertaken for the German government by the country's Institute for Innovation and Technology (iit): “Successful German startup numbers have now reached a level that is comparable with what is happening in the USA, the UK and Israel." Moreover, the 2017 German Startup Monitor published by the BVDS shows that 8 out of 10 German startups have plans for international expansion. The focus of these plans is for the most part on other EU countries. The problem is that many of these startups drop out of the running due to a lack of access to capital. To help counter this, the European Commission recently launched VentureEU, a €2.1 billion fund-of-funds program that will back VC funds around Europe and thereby boost support for startups.

CEBIT scale11 a powerful springboard for entrepreneurs

But first things first: startups and scaleups seeking to woo investors, partners and the media need well managed public events to boost their profile. That's where the CEBIT show's scale11 platform comes in. It is Europe's leading springboard for startups hungry for success – and hence also a major magnet for those seeking to share in that success. In Hall 27 at CEBIT, prospective investors and partners will find an absolute wealth of visionary business ideas. For example, the founders of INS will be at this year's scale11 with the world's first millimeter-accurate AR-based indoor navigation system that does not require any additional hardware. NEPOS will be presenting the world's first tablet for the 60-plus generation that features a universal user interface for all programs. EmQopter will be there with an autonomous delivery drone that has a gripper arm and features intelligent collision avoidance technology. And Sensosurf will be showcasing self-learning machine components for industrial processes.

As well as these “German-made" innovations, there will be plenty of brilliant business ideas for other parts of the world. GIZ (German Society for International Cooperation), for instance, will be bringing 20 startups from Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia to Hannover as part of its Make IT in Africa initiative, and KIC-Europe (Korea Innovation Centre Europe) will be there with seven founder teams from South Korea.

Big players on the look-out for new ideas

CEBIT premium partners ADAC and Volkswagen have announced they will be running startup pitches and many other activities at scale11. Deutsche Bank will also be there. The bank is looking to partner with startups to develop new products and will be using scale11 to present its dbAPI interface, which can be used for developing services such as open banking.

Group pavilions featuring young enterprises

Several startups will be taking part at a group pavilion in Hall 27 organized by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). For example, accu:rate will be presenting crowd:it, a software application that uses crowd simulation to improve crowd safety in public places; and rfrnz will be profiling a contract intelligence platform that uses AI to analyze and review contracts.

Several of Germany's federal states, including Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, will likewise be organizing startup-focused group pavilions in Hall 27. Regional initiatives such as Hannover's business development agency hannoverimpuls will also be there with a selection of young hopefuls. Other big-name cooperation partners of scale11 include the German venture capital firm High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), the co-working space Hafven Hannover, and the startup incubator and accelerator STARTPLATZ Düsseldorf/Köln.

Expert panels, live action and networking with a festival atmosphere

The show will also feature various other exciting startup-centric events and formats, including the scale11 startup stage with its live pitches, as well as various panel discussions, community areas and business speed-dating sessions. For example, on the Expert Stage, the BVDS will be running information and discussion events starring noted representatives from the startup scene, influencers, investors and political leaders.

One of the big scale11 highlights for startups will be the Meet-a-Media sessions. Run as 30-minute speed-dating slots, these sessions are an opportunity for startups to chat with journalists and get first-hand advice on how to improve their media presence (cooperation partner: Becomewide). And for young women entrepreneurs, there's the Founders' Breakfast in the scale11 Lounge on 13 June.

scale11 would not be scale11 without the ever-popular “Fuckup Nights”. Held on Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 June, these are an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to talk about their failures and the reasons for them and to give other budding entrepreneurs a few pointers on how to deal with difficult situations.

And for those entrepreneurs who feel equal to a public duel of words with their peers, there's the Founders Fight Club. Each round will be scored by a jury of experts. Every evening, once the Fights and other scale11 activities are over, it's time to head out to the d!campus for some R&R amid a relaxing festival atmosphere.

Promising startups as finalists for CEBIT Innovation Award

Three highly promising startups have been nominated for the CEBIT Innovation Award 2018. They are: AIPARK, which uses big traffic data and AI to help drivers find parking spaces; Crashtest Security, which has developed a suite of web application security software; and Fire & Rescue Instructions, whose DIVERA 24/7 real-time visualization software streamlines emergency response planning for fire and rescue services. The three finalists will be at the German Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Technology (BMBF) pavilion at Stand E52 in Hall 27.


At CEBIT 2018, everything is geared to generating business, leads and bright ideas. With its exhibitor displays, expert conferences and prime networking opportunities, CEBIT is a triple-punch event covering everything essential to the digitization of business, government and society. The innovations on display in the d!conomy section of the show give IT professionals and decision-makers from the realms of business, trade and the public sector the tools they need to streamline and futureproof their operations by leveraging digitization to the fullest. The event's d!tec showcase puts the spotlight on developers and startups and their disruptive business models, as well as on research institutes giving us a glimpse of tomorrow's game-changing technologies. The d!talk conference program features visionaries, lateral thinkers, creatives and experts from around the globe. The d!campus is the beating heart of CEBIT – the place where everyone gets together for relaxed networking, street food and live music. CEBIT presents the digital transformation in a totally new way, while retaining its core focus on business, leads and more leads. The first day of CEBIT 2018 – Monday, 11 June – is reserved for conference attendees and journalists, with the exhibition opening on Tuesday, 12 June. The exhibition halls will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the d!campus staying open till 11 p.m. on those days. Opening hours on Friday are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CEBIT Events Worldwide give Deutsche Messe's customers even more ways of reaching their international clientele, e.g. in dynamic markets such as China, Australia, Thailand and Spain.

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