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Start-up News | May 2024

Continued innovations in Germany’s start-up sector are continuing to attract international investment.

Berlin start-up turns sewage sludge into power

A Berlin company claims it has devised a process that can help turn sewage facilities into power plants. 

Berlin start-up Shit2Power is using the waste byproduct from sewage treatment facilities to help generate electricity and hydrogen. Sewage sludge is recycled at the point of production, thereby increasing independence from sewage treatment facilities through the production of local energy and hydrogen. 

According to the company, Germany’s nine thousand sewage treatment facilities do not currently make use of the energy creation potential of sewage sludge, paying EUR 500 million annually for its disposal when it could be used to generate in the region of 460,000 MWh of energy. 

Using mechanical and thermal processing, the start-up converts sewage sludge into an energy-rich synthesis gas from its constituent elements. Toxic and environmentally harmful compounds are destroyed by the high process temperature, leaving ash as the sole by-product of the process. The use of an adsorber module allows the hydrogen in the synthesis gas to be extracted and made available as an energy carrier. The whole process takes place in a container that the company rents out to sewage treatment plants.

To date, the process has only been implemented in the company’s two test laboratories, but Shit2Power believes that the cash savings and energy generated for own use will act as an incentive for sewage treatment facilities around the world to sign up for the service. 

Leipzig Graduate School of Management accelerator among Europe’s top start-up hubs

SpinLab, the Leipzig Graduate School of Management (HHL) accelerator, is one of Europe’s leading start-up hubs according to the most recent “Europe’s Leading Startup – Hubs 2024” study of 125 start-up hubs in 19 European countries conducted by the Financial Times and Statista.

 In a Germany-wide comparison, the HHL accelerator ranked second nationally and secured twelfth spot in Europe. "This recognition is a notable validation of our team's accomplishments” said SpinLab CEO and founder Dr. Eric Weber. “Our strategy revolves around consistently and sustainably enhancing start-up ecosystems in cities with significant potential. We are committed to further refining the quality of our services for startups and esteemed corporate partners like K+S, VNG AG, and AOK Plus. Moreover, we have plans to extend our impact through new initiatives at additional locations” he added.

The survey rankings, based on weighted criteria of alumni ratings (85 percent), start-up success rate (10 percent) and expert recommendations (five percent), were based on participant responses for the period July to October 2023. Start-ups can benefit from the six-month funding program free in order to benefit from coaching and mentoring services. 

SpinLab has announced plans to open a new site in Germany, with the planned expansion underpinning the group’s efforts to establish its successful model in more locations and increase national support for start-ups across the country. Plans are also afoot to expand the model internationally, with eastern European cities being the focal point of initial expansion activities. 

Qdrant launches first vector database as managed hybrid cloud solution

Berlin-based company Qdrant has launched the first vector database as a managed hybrid cloud solution for enterprise deployment. 

According to the company, its vector database solution can sort huge and complex sets – consisting of images, audio and video – automatically. In high demand in the growing AI market because of their ability to drive the development of generative AI, vector databases efficiently index, query and retrieve critical high-dimensional data required to build and run AI solutions. 

According to Qdrant co-founder and CEO Andre Zayarni, companies are clamoring for an AI-based assistant to replace time-consuming internal documentation searches, with a cloud-based approach also providing a solution to those enterprises unable to upload their own data to the OpenAI cloud. This is of particular relevance to those clients whose sensitive proprietary data must stay within the company’s own security perimeter for reasons of compliance and data privacy. 

Vector databases have not been offered in managed hybrid cloud contexts because of the prohibitive effort required to develop these types of service. However, according to Qdrant, increased flexibility helps ensure privacy, security, compliance, and cost-efficiency and will see hybrid cloud deployments grow in market importance. 

The company successfully completed a series A funding round at the start of the year, securing new capital investment of USD 28 million from Spark Capital and existing investors Unusual Ventures and 42CAP.

WHU start-ups raise USD 583 million VC funding in 2023

Start-ups found by students or alumni of the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management raised USD 583 million in fresh venture capital in 2023 – equivalent to almost nine percent of total USD 6.7 billion invested in start-ups in Germany. 

WHU start-ups also maintained their relative strong position, bucking the general decline trend that saw the drop to USD 6.7 billion last year from USD 10.5 billion in 2022. 

According to a study based on Crunchbase data conducted by WHU Chair of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technological Transformation Professor Doctor Dries Faems, WHU student and alumni start-ups were involved in four percent of all VC transactions in Germany last year.

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