Frankfurt taking the right steps in becoming a startup hub

It’s about a year ago when I wrote my first blog wondering why Frankfurt, the banking centre of Germany, was not the startup hub for Fintech in Germany. In a year many things have materialised that moved the development to the right direction; some of them planned and some unforeseen. The catalyst for the planned events was the call from Minister Tarek Al-Wazir from the Hessen Ministry of Economy and Energy for different parties to present their concepts of how to build the Frankfurt FinTech Centre. The unplanned booster was the unexpected decision of UK to exit the EU, Brexit.

Current Initiatives in Frankfurt

The event end on January was not only talk, but many of the concept were materialised. TechQuartier that was officially opened last week was the concept developed by the official parties based on the many ideas presented. Aurelis proceeded with their startup co-working project Vabn. Accelerator Frankfurt concept presented at the event was founded and launched 19th of September. When the refurbishment of TechQuartier is completed it will be our new home.

Some projects not part of the Hessen initiative started independently such as the Fintech hub from Deutsche Börse. We have two established incubators in Frankfurt the Main Incubator by Commerzbank and Unibator by Goether Unversity. Coworking spaces are offered by Fintech HQ, Gründermachine, meetnwork and Die Zentrale.

Accelerator Frankfurt program brings Israeli startups to Frankfurt

Being the first accelerator in town Accelerator Frankfurt fills many voids.  One of them is attracting foreign startups to Frankfurt. Three of the eight startups in our program are from Israel. The uniqueness of Accelerator Frankfurt is that we are able to appeal to foreign and domestic startups to the program. Frankfurt has traditionally not been an option especially not for Fintech startups who either go to the US or London. Brexit made many reconsider the London option and this time the odds are on Frankfurt. Proximity to customers such as banks and the HQ of many central players such as ECB, BaFin and Deutsche Börse gives Frankfurt an edge compared to Berlin and other cities in Europe.

Startups in Accelerator Frankfurt’s autumn program with Demo day 16th of January 2017. Alyne (RegTech, risk insights as a service), BeeEye (FinTech, credit scoring using machine learning), Cindicis (SaaS, contextual intelligence platform), Fenror7 (Cybersecurity for enterprises), Pronteo (peer to peer FoodTech), SchnellSpesen (FinTech, automated expense management), SecuredTouch (Cybersecurity for mobile devices) and Wroomer (e-finance platform for used cars).

What two things we need to keep the momentum?

For Frankfurt to be successful collaboration, competition and transparency is needed. To keep the momentum these can be compressed to two things; coopetition; to maximise value creation and transparency for open communication and accountability. The criteria’s for a well-functioning startup hub are functioning ecosystem, attracting talent and creating culture of innovation. This takes time to develop, nonetheless Frankfurt has taken the steps to the desired direction.

We who care about Frankfurt and are passionate about startups, should continue to unite our forces to make Frankfurt attractive even sexy in the eyes of the startups and investors. A great example of this is the joint demo day being planned for 16th of January.

About the Author

Maria Pennanen

Maria is ranked top fintech influencer in the DACH region. She is an investor and CEO of monetizationAI, a FashionTech startup. She is an experienced manager with 20 years of in-depth experience in B2B sales and marketing within Europe and Asia where she developed a passion for learning and profitable growth. She is a qualified executive coach educated in INSEAD. She is involved in numerous German, Finnish and Israeli start-ups and invests in SAAS and Fintech startups.

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