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Berlin University Alliance strengthens startup ecosystem in the field of artificial intelligence

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding a four-year model project by Science & Startups with 6.85 million euros. This is intended to create significantly more startups in the field of AI from science

News from Jun 10, 2021

Science & Startups, the alliance of startup services from Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin receives 6.85 million euros to fund spin-offs in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).

The focus of the nationwide model project will be on expansion of the entire innovation chain geared towards AI, from the identification of startup potentials in research to the targeted acceleration of the feasibility phase to an accelerator program on the new Artificial Intelligence (AI) Campus Berlin. The integration of a strong industrial network in all innovation phases will be just as much a core element as the establishment of an AI academy for startups and stakeholders. The model project is set up in an entrepreneurial manner and with company building approaches from the start. Science & Startups enables access to the most important research potential in Berlin.

The model project financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy for four years is intended to specifically promote the establishment of startups in the field of artificial intelligence in the federal capital. “With the EXIST program, we are promoting the transfer of research into practice thus putting horsepower on the road – now also with additional funding for startups in the field of artificial intelligence. I am pleased that Science & Startups is the first model project to be launched here in Berlin; further model projects in other regions are to follow this example. Just how much potential there is in the combination of startup funding and AI is demonstrated by the success of the startup CELONIS, which was valued at 11 billion dollars last week, founded with the help of EXIST and funded by the German Accelerator,” says Federal Minister for Economic Affairs (and Energy) Peter Altmaier.

The State of Berlin is co-financing the project and integrating it into the further development of the Berlin AI strategy. “I am very pleased that the model project from the Berlin University Alliance has been awarded the contract. This success underlines the considerable innovation potential of our excellence alliance and is also an important building block for the strategic further development of the AI ecosystem in the startup metropolis of Berlin. The students and researchers of the Berlin University Alliance play a central role in this,” emphasizes Berlin's governing mayor Michael Müller.

For the startup services of the Berlin universities, the project offers the opportunity to bring the cross-cutting theme of AI even more into the mainstream of Berlin research in order to initiate as many startup ideas as possible from science. “The successful acquisition underscores the excellence of the Berlin University Alliance also in the area of knowledge and technology transfer,” says Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. Sabine Kunst, spokesperson of the Berlin University Alliance and president of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. “The great application potential of AI can be seen across the alliance, for example in the research areas of health, linguistics, materials or quantum technologies. In the model project, we are also addressing ethical aspects of AI and their acceptance in economy and society,” emphasizes Sabine Kunst.

The project is carried out in close cooperation with the Berlin Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data (BIFOLD), one of the beacons of nationwide AI research. The institute aims to be permanently established as a national AI competence center from 2022. “For BIFOLD it is a central goal to bring research into practice. The close spatial proximity will greatly facilitate the transfer between BIFOLD researchers and startups,“ says BIFOLD director Prof. Dr. Volker Markl. “The AI-focused approach of Science & Startups will support us in realizing spin-offs even more often in the future.”

The project is based on the existing structures of the innovation and startup services. “With the funds we will be able to significantly increase the quantity of science-based startups in the field of AI and their scalability,” explains Volker Hofmann, member of Science & Startups and managing director of Humboldt-Innovation GmbH. “To this end, we are developing and testing a topic-focused and entrepreneurial model for promoting innovation that will give rise to startups that will tackle and solve the challenges of today and the future.”

About Science & Startups

Science & Startups is the alliance of startup centers of the partner institutions of the Berlin University Alliance – the major Berlin universities Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Science & Startups supports science-based startups and promotes the creative innovation of science. By bundling the resources of the four major Berlin universities, the alliance creates a unique, internationally visible university startup ecosystem with extensive services, 1,700 potential academic mentors from the member universities and almost 130,000 potential co-founders.

The Berlin University Alliance

The Berlin University Alliance is a consortium consisting of three major Berlin universities – Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin – and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, established to shape research and education in Berlin. The four partners joined forces to further develop Berlin as a research hub with international drawing power. Together the partners explore major societal challenges, increase public outreach, promote the training of junior researchers, address issues of quality and standards in research, and share resources in the areas of research infrastructure, teaching, diversity, equal opportunities, and internationalization. The Berlin University Alliance is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the state of Berlin under the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Länder.

Joint press release from Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin along with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Press contact
Hans-Christoph Keller, acting press spokesperson for the Berlin University Alliance and press spokesperson for Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Email: medien@berlin-university-alliance.de 

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