Issue 65, August 2015
bullet Entrepreneurship
bullet RESTUBE - Providing Peace of Mind in the Open Water
bullet Interview with German Accelerator Co-Founder and CEO Dirk Kanngiesser
bullet Innovation: auticon - Tapping Into the Talents of Autistic Adults
bullet LifeTime: World's First Hardware Connection Hub for Patients and Doctors
bullet Building a Global Cleantech Innovation Ecosystem: The Germany-California Landing Pad Program
Today, the combination of globalization and digitalization is fueling the exponential growth of new technologies at historically unprecedented levels. From machine learning and virtual reality to DevOps and the Internet of Things, the global start-up scene is abuzz with the latest in tech trends. In the entrepreneurial mecca that is Berlin, start-ups are launching thousands of new businesses in the e-commerce, cloud, and Big Data realms as well as in creative sectors, such as fashion, marketing, and media.
In 2014, Germany was the second-largest center for venture-backed tech activity in Europe after the U.K. This growing venture capital market can be attributed in large part to Berlin's booming tech start-up scene, which according to a recent McKinsey report, could gain up to 100,000 jobs by 2020.

The city's cheaper office overheads and affordable cost of living relative to that of other major European cities make it a prime spot for entrepreneurs to launch exciting, even riskier ideas and to attract excellent talent. Access to this pool of talent, which is fueled by an increasingly international population and well-regarded universities and research institutions close by, is one major advantage of the city. While Berlin is notoriously the heart of the German innovation ecosystem, other cities like the gaming bastion of Hamburg are catching up by attracting new start-ups with substantial regional financial and logistical support.

The German government offers a myriad of funding and support for entrepreneurs on both the state and federal levels, programs which are outlined in more detail on the Entrepreneurship Funding & Resources page of the GCRI website. The recently launched EXIST Start-Up Germany program, for example, is directed at young entrepreneurs from universities and research institutes in Israel who are interested in launching their own businesses in and around Berlin. This program assists participants with the application process for the EXIST Business Start-Up Grant, which offers up to 150,000 euros in funding for a 12-month period. In the years to come, programs like these will continue play a key role in helping Germany churn out the next generation of fresh ideas, game-changing technologies, and start-up success stories.

Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death, according to the World Health Organization. Globally, an estimated 372,000 people die from drowning each year.

While kite-surfing in the open sea, German mechanical engineering student Christopher Fuhrhop experienced a life-threating situation in which he wished he had had a handy water rescue device at his side. What began as a dissertation with his fellow classmate Marius Kunkis from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), later developed into a market-ready, lifesaving product called RESTUBE, the first of its kind. The device is so small that users can carry it with them at all times by simply securing a band around their hips. If needed, users can pull the product's trigger and a lifesaving buoy will inflate. Different models and sizes of the self-inflating floating device exist, which have been adapted for various types of users ranging from big wave surfers and triathlon swimmers to families and lifeguards.

Just three years after the start-up's launch, RESTUBE is now involved with roughly 500 distributors in 20 countries. More than 30,000 water sports enthusiasts and several professional athletes currently rely on the safety device, which is priced from 59 to 129 euros. The product has already saved numerous people from drowning, testimonials of which can be found on the company's website.

RESTUBE is the official safety partner for a variety of international water events like RedBull's "Outrow" in the U.K., "Battle of the Sund" in Sweden and Denmark, and "Swim the Island" in Italy. Each participant in these competitions is equipped with a RESTUBE. The start-up also cooperates with other key associations worldwide, such as the Swiss Lifesaving Association (SLRG), the German Association of Windsurfing and Watersports Schools (VDWS), and the British Stand Up Paddle Association (BSUPA).

For more information, visit: To watch an in-depth ZDF report (in German) about RESTUBE, click here. For a Deutscher Gründer Preis video (in German) about the start-up, click here.

Source & Image: RESTUBE GmbH

Dirk Kanngiesser is a technology start-up entrepreneur and investor based in Silicon Valley. He has more than 25 years of start-up, operational, and investing experience in Europe and the U.S., and has been instrumental in founding a number of start-ups. 

He is the co-founder and CEO of the German Accelerator, a German government-sponsored program that supports German start-ups with U.S. market entry via the Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and New York City ecosystems. He also currently serves as CEO of Seebright Inc., an augmented and virtual reality start-up located in Santa Cruz and Palo Alto, California.

In his interview with GCRI, Mr. Kanngiesser discusses how Germany's start-up landscape has changed over the past decade and where he sees it heading. He also describes his role in establishing the German Accelerator as well as his vision for its future. In addition, Mr. Kanngiesser touches on some of the challenges that German start-ups face when entering the U.S. market. Lastly, he addresses how universities can foster a culture of entrepreneurship and offers his advice to young entrepreneurs. To read the full interview, click here.

Mr. Kanngiesser is an angel investor and board member of technology companies in both Europe and the U.S. and has been actively involved in many European venture capital investments and I.P.O.'s. He formerly served on the task force of Deutsche Börse for the creation of a new stock market.

Specializing in global technology company building and corporate spin-offs, Mr. Kanngiesser is also very interested in start-ups around the mobile phone value chain and in the cleantech realm. He holds an electrical engineering degree from the TU Dortmund in Germany and an MBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Source & Image: German Accelerator


Autistic adults frequently have difficulties securing or maintaining a job - often despite extraordinary analytical abilities and a high IQ. In fact, a mere 20 percent of Germans with Asperger's syndrome are currently in mainstream skilled employment. 

auticon, the first German enterprise to exclusively employ adults on the autism spectrum as IT consultants, is seeking to change this situation of high unemployment and untapped potential. Pattern recognition, logic, precision, sustained concentration, and an ability to intuitively spot errors are only a few of the outstanding qualities that employees with high-functioning autism bring to the labor market. These skills are of great value in areas such as security and deep web analysis, compliance and reporting, testing and quality management, transformation and migration, and data and business intelligence. In order to assist with any communication difficulties autistic consultants may have in social situations, auticon offers the support of specially trained job coaches who operate as intermediaries between consultants and clients and help to facilitate workplace adjustments.

auticon is a win-win-win situation for job seekers on the autism spectrum, clients, and society. Since its launch in 2011, auticon has employed 45 autistic adults, facilitating their entry into the mainstream labor market as well as their financial independence. By integrating auticon consultants into teams, auticon clients not only gain loyal and highly skilled employees, but they also significantly contribute to their company's in-house corporate social responsibility strategy and an increasingly inclusive labor market.

Two-thirds of German stock index (DAX) enterprises are auticon clients, including Vodafone, Infineon, and Siemens. The company has six branches across Germany with approximately 70 staff, 45 of whom are autistic. 61 percent of the company's autistic employees were unemployed before working at auticon.

The Berlin-based consulting firm has been featured in international media like The Guardian, BBC, and The Financial Times and has won an array of awards, including the 2015 Xing New Work Award, the 2015 Deutscher Gründerpreis, and the 2015 Land der Ideen Ausgezeichneter Ort prize. To learn more, click here for an Al Jazeera English video report.

Source & Image: auticon GmbH    

Despite rapid advances and massive growth in information technology in recent decades, data exchange between patients and doctors remains firmly stuck in the 20th century. Aside from antiquated systems like paper and CD files, in most countries no standard format exists for the exchange of health data between patients and doctors.

The LifeTime app - a freemium encrypted portal for health data on smartphones - however, empowers patients to take their health into their own hands. For doctors, the small plug-n-play hardware - LifeHub - enables any healthcare IT system to provide seamless mobile data exchange with its patients. Most importantly, these products enable the secure and local exchange of data without having to transfer and store private medical information via an Internet connection and cloud-based service.

A patient can initiate the transfer of data by opening the LifeTime app on his or her smartphone and holding it near the LifeHub at a doctor's office. With this simple gesture, patients can provide their doctors access to an overview of their medical history and important information to be taken into account during treatment. Following an appointment, patients are able to digitally receive new diagnosis data on their smartphones.

LifeTime, which is being developed by, may be the missing link between the rapidly growing, smartphone-driven consumer healthcare market and the outdated medical IT ecosystem. Since the company's founding in 2014 by Hamburg physician and software developer Dr. Johannes Jacubeit, the idea has garnered media attention. It has been featured in press outlets such as the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Handelsblatt, and NDR Fernsehen. Dr. Jacubeit's team has already received numerous awards, including the Best Pitch Award at the Healthcare Innovation Weekend Berlin 2014, 1st Prize for Best App Idea at the Handelskammer Hamburg App Contest 2014, CeBIT CODE_n Finalist for the Top 50 International Start-ups at CeBIT 2015, and 1st Prize in Biotech/Life Sciences at the Best of Both Leipzig 2015.
Source & Image:

Germany and California are world leaders in developing new environmental technologies to tackle climate change. To take advantage of both regions' innovation ecosystems, the Borderstep Institute for Innovation & Sustainability, an applied research institute and think tank, together with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), established a forum on green innovation in 2014 to bring together thought leaders in the field. The premise behind this Network for Global Innovation (NGIN) is that cleantech start-ups, SMEs, accelerators/incubators, investors, and researchers from various parts of the world can benefit substantially from networking and collaboration.

To support this vision, Borderstep and LACI also established the Landing Pad Program, which aims to simplify the process for young and established companies to approach-and eventually enter-cleantech lead markets in California and Germany. The program supports German and U.S. green start-ups and growth enterprises throughout the market entry process, from the development of strategic partnerships and client acquisition to business model testing and the securing of funding.

Likewise, LACI's Cleantech Global Showcase (GloSho), an annual summit held in Los Angeles, provides a forum for German and international start-ups, SMEs, and stakeholders to exchange ideas with their U.S. counterparts and pitch for funding. In the future, winners of Borderstep's StartGreen Award, a national start-up competition dedicated to the "green economy," will be given the opportunity to present at GloSho.

At Borderstep, experts in business management, IT, and engineering work in interdisciplinary teams - internally and in collaboration with partners - to prepare market research and other studies for government, private sector, and civil society clients on how innovation and entrepreneurship contribute to sustainable development. In addition to hosting a number of conferences and workshops, the institute also initiates collaborative projects with innovative businesses, universities, and trade associations, such as the StartUp4Climate project, the first ever national start-up initiative for the green economy. Borderstep is supported by numerous funding partners, including a variety of German federal ministries, the Volkswagen Foundation, Hessen Trade & Invest, and the Umweltbundesamt (UBA).

Joerg Geier coordinates NGIN on behalf of Borderstep and LACI and helps access new markets for green technology companies. For more information, contact
Source & Image: Borderstep Institute for Innovation & Sustainability gGmbH