AI beyond the hype

Some two hundred Artificial Intelligence (AI) enthusiasts from European national banks and ECB attended the conference in Frankfurt to learn about AI. Koenraad de Geest, the Director General of Information Systems at ECB, had the opening words and defused the commonly believed threat of mass unemployment caused by AI. The coming 4th industrial revolution will require some of us to reskill, but at the same time offers an amazing opportunity to take advantage of this new technology. Today, ECB uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze the markets perception on ECB’s communication. Additionally, ECB scraps data from the internet to predict inflation. The message was to embrace the new era and not to be threatened by the science fiction fear scenarios.

The human helper vs. The super human


In the discussion around whether we are in a hype regarding AI or not, Magi Clave, Deputy Director of General Information Systems at ECB interviewed Nuria Oliver, a computer scientist and researcher. The start of AI was in 1950 when Alan Turing, a well-known English computer scientist, developed the test to measure a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour. After several ups and downs, the last boom of AI started in 1993 and by 1997 the first computer was able to beat a human in chess. Nevertheless, the AI and computer intelligence as we know it today is still limited to one task or subject and can’t be compared to human intelligence. The uniqueness of our human brain and its ability for incremental and constant learning, puts us apart from machines. We are very efficient in comparison to machines. A child needs to see a cat only a few times to know it is a cat, but a machine using unsupervised machine learning needs hundreds of repetitions to learn the same. What is unique for us humans is our ability to adapt quickly and the ability to keep several hypotheses active at the same time until we have enough information to decide which is the right one.


AI – an aid or the terminator?


The level of AI used today is called “narrow AI” where machines beat humans on narrow fields of expertise such as chess. The next step is the “general AI” where machines compete with humans, although we are not there yet. The last stage “the super intelligence and singularity” is the vision of some that machines will take over the human race. There clearly potential threats even today, such as how is the information collected on us being used. It can be used by companies and governments to profile us. In the end, they know us better than we know ourselves. Even the seemingly anonymous data (videos, social media, sensors, pictures) can be personalised when different data sets are combined. In future, the one who dominates AI dominates the world. We need to educate people both of the opportunities and threats of AI.


From banking to fashion


The move from theory to practice was moderated by Ram Shoham, founder of Accelerator Frankfurt, the leading Fintech-focused accelerator in Frankfurt. Startups INNAAS, a Fintech, and The designerAI, a Fashiontech, are part of Accelerator Frankfurt’s portfolio companies and demonstrated how they have implemented AI to solve a real problem. The main point for success is to have access to good-quality input data, and prioritising engineering over data science. Every startup knows that resources cannot be wasted, therefore lean methods, quick execution, and abolishment of a method that does not work, increases the chances of success. AI is all about algorithms, but once understanding that they do not really matter, it is more important to just pick one that works and choose performance over perfection.


INNAAS data helper with AI


Easy access to structured information was demonstrated by Simone di Somma, the founder of INNAAS. He validated this by showing the usual pain points companies have dealing with big data sets. Dashboards are developed to showcase information that databases contain, but few people ever use them. The more user-friendly solution is to use NLP (natural language progressing) with SQL queries to help users quickly access the information they are looking for. Today, banks and other corporation with large data sets use their solution. For a mobile product, it is vital that it works over a large number of channels such as SMS, Slack, Alexa, etc. INNAAS enables a personal proactive feed of data with help of AI. Additionally, an autonomous training of the machine provides the user with a personal and intuitive interaction with the data. The ease of use is what determines if the users will adopt the product or service. This was clearly demonstrated with mobile and web applications during the presentation. A predictive software that learns from previous queries makes it very intuitive to use the product. 


The designerAI digitalising Fashion


The fact that fashion is visual and very emotional, makes it difficult to systemise. A machine can see as well as a human, but it is unable to interpret what it sees. It can only identify the information it has been trained with. Co-founder of the designerAI, Maria Pennanen, presented the vision on how the Fashion industry can be digitalised with the help of computer vision. The challenges of computer vision in fashion is the complexity of the human body. The seasonal nature of the fashion industry creates immense amounts of data, making it impractical to manually describe large data sets of images. This is where AI is implemented to help make sense of it all. The aim is to bring added value to designers and retailers. Designers can do their design process steps more efficiently and get input on preferences of potential consumers. The retailer is able to better match their offering to the targeted client group. The designersAI’s vision is to create standardized data sets of images to enable fashion creation more efficiently without taking out creativity from the equation.


“It always seems impossible until it is done” – Nelson Mandela


There are many positive use cases of AI in the fields of autonomous driving, medication, research and personalised data feeds. However, it can also be used to manipulate behaviour, to keep us in an information bubble and in the worst case to produce destructive weapons. The only way to influence it is to be a part of it.


Special thanks to ECB for letting us take part of this event.

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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Dear Friends, Dear Colleagues,

Summer is well underway, and we hope you are all enjoying the warm weather. Blockchain Labs is launching in September with Wave 6 of Accelerator Frankfurt. We are working hard on our final selection of the top blockchain startups who will come to Frankfurt in September. The blockchain labs fosters strategic partnerships between corporates and blockchain technologies. With access to our international network, blockchain companies will be put in touch with the relevant corporations and banks in order to accelerate implementation. If your company would like to be part of our ecosystem, please write us at

We wish you a fantastic summer.

Accelerator Frankfurt team
Apply to our blockchain labs at the bottom of the page.
Monday, 24.06.2019 by Ram Shoham
Down below you will find the link to the presentation Maria Pennanen delivered at the KPMG Isreal Fintech Week. A great presentation discussing the different use-cases of blockchain technology in the finance industry.
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Dear Friends, Dear Colleagues,

We are very proud to announce that Accelerator Frankfurt was featured among the World’s Best Financial Innovation Labs of 2019! In it, Accelerator Frankfurt is ranked among the top 25 best innovation labs of the world! In the article, our founder, Ram Shoham, talks about how Blockchain will bring a new asset class altogether:
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Go check out the full article by clicking on title below

Thank you.
Accelerator Frankfurt team
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Dear Friends, Dear Colleagues,
We invite you to our coming Smart Contracts event held at our office on May 22nd, where we focus on Scaling the public blockchain for payments. Our mission is that you leave informed, inspired, and better connected. 

Scalability, high transaction costs and unclear regulatory requirements are a problem. We will host three unique blockchain projects addressing the scalability issues of open blockchain: Raiden, Perun, & Lightning Network

Additionally, Carsten Lösing from White & Case will present the legal qualifications of tokens in the payment side. Drinks and light food will be served courtesy of White & Case. Please register using this link.

Founders of Smart Contract Meetup: Ali Pasha Foroughi, Miguel Vaz, and Accelerator Frankfurt.

Thank you.
Ram -
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Liebe Freunde und Kollegen,

In der heutigen Zeit muss jedes etablierte Unternehmen ihr Geschäftsmodell innovativeren, um konkurrenzfähig zu bleiben.
Auf der anderen Seite sehen wir junge Blockchain Unternehmen, die innovative Produkte und Dienstleistungen anbieten, aber aufgrund des Alters des Unternehmens der Zugang zum Kapital und dem richtigen Netzwerk verwehrt wird.

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Als etabliertes Unternehmen profitieren Sie, indem Sie Ihre Beziehung zur Blockchain Technologie aufbauen und vertiefen. Sie können in der Community die neuen innovativen Lösungen nutzen und testen. Die Blockchain Unternehmen werden vor der Aufnahme von uns geprüft, um ein hohen Standard zu gewähren. Somit können wir auch für Sie die Arbeit des Dealsourcing abnehmen.

Unsere Expertise spiegelt sich im Erfolg der letzten Jahre unseres Accelerator-Programms wider. Nun möchten wir auf Grundlage dieser eine neue Plattform aufbauen, welche sich komplett auf die Blockchain Technologie fokussiert.
Wenn Ihr Unternehmen Interesse an der Blockchain Technologie haben und ein Teil dieser Community sein möchten, können wir sehr gerne einen Termin für ein Meeting oder Telefonat vereinbaren.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Ram -
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Dear Friends, Dear Colleagues,

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For those with children, check out our entrepreneurship summer camp below.

Thank you
Ram -
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Dear Friends, Dear Colleagues,

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Thank you.
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Dear Friends, Dear Colleagues, Happy 2019! 

The start of a new year brings along new resolutions, renewed energies and for me personally, a lot of reflections on the year behind us. What is most important for us at the accelerator, is stay passionate about what we do and while this might sound cliché, it works for everyone that is part of Accelerator Frankfurt. As Steve Jobs said: “The only way to do great things, is to love what you do”. This is also true for our entrepreneurs, which is one of our key selection criteria.

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Wednesday, 09.01.2019 by Ram Shoham
Dear Friends, Dear Colleagues,
2018 has been a wonderful year yet again. We have had great startups which are still growing strong and raised an amount of EUR 12 million in combined investments. Most importantly, these companies are setting their footprint in the German market and we are proud to have them in the Frankfurt-Rhein-Main region.
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Thank you and all the best for 2019.
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Dear friends and colleagues,
On Monday the 26th of November, we welcome you to our office for another learning session on Crypto Trading Strategies. Expand your trading skills and understanding on cryptocurrencies with one of the top gurus in the space, Maksim Balashevich. Please register here or simply send me an email if you wish to join

Best regards, 
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Blockchain & Crypto Assets, plus Korean startups networking
Dear friends and colleagues,

Our community is once again gathering at the Santiment Blockchain Hub on October 24th, for an evening not to be missed. We strive to enrich our knowledge in the Blockchain and crypto field and want you to be part of this journey. Santiment is a global leader providing financial and crypto market data to investors, hedge funds and academia. Santiment’s data scientists are making regular discoveries in the crpyto space and are giving its community a close insight to such revelations. Join our coming meetup with Maksim Balashevic, CEO of Santiment, and moderated by the internationally renowned moderator, Mr. Peter Hopwood. If you are curious to keep learning, sign up here.

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Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

Accelerator Frankfurt is inviting its community to our launch event, which will be held in our new office location at MINDSPACE Frankfurt in the city center. A new batch of Fintech and Cybersecurity startups will be attending, as well as a few blockchain and post-ICO companies. We would like to thank our strategic partners, d-fine next, die firma, and Taylor Wessing and in Israel, atobe entrepreneurship center. For registration to the launch event, click here.

Best regards, 
Maria and Ram
Tuesday, 03.07.2018 by Ram Shoham
Dear friends and colleagues, 

Summer months are here already but we at Accelerator Frankfurt are continuing at full speed ahead. The 4th Wave Demo day is over with great success and achievements. Currently we are traveling extensively meeting new startups, investorsand mentors. We are preparing for our next Go-to-Market program, with a strong focus on Blockchain. Below we are happy to present our July newsletter edition. 

We are always happy to get your feedback and comments and would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who replied and advised.  


Maria and Ram
Accelerator Frankfurt
Sunday, 03.06.2018 by Ram Shoham
Dear friends and colleagues, 

A few days before the 4th Wave Demo day (June 19) which reflects the work our startup has achieved throughout the Go-to-Market program, we are happy to present our June newsletter edition. Events' demos, meetings and mentoring occurred this month and we would like to share some of the events here. 

We are always happy to get your feedbacks and comments and would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who replied and advised.  


Maria and Ram
Accelerator Frankfurt
Tuesday, 03.04.2018 by Ram Shoham
Dear friends,

We are excited to present our April 2018 newsletter and share with you our recent activities as well as the coming events in our ecosystem. 
The past few weeks have been very intense with the launch of the 4th Wave of our Go-to-Market program. Also, we have participated in major global events and hosted workshops and meetups. We look forward to seeing you in our next activities as a growing and developing international startup ecosystem in Frankfurt. 

Save the date: Demo Day June 19th.


Maria and Ram
Accelerator Frankfurt
Tuesday, 30.01.2018 by Maria Pennanen
(Frankfurt am Main, 21.01.2018) Accelerator Frankfurt successfully completed its third wave. The startups Cogia (Big Data Analytics / Textmining, Germany), Cytegic (Automated Cyber Risk Officer, Israel), Enterpay (Fintech Payments, Finland), INNAAS (Fintech Digital Concierge, Italy), Robosig (FX AlgoTrading, USA) and Spobi (SportTech, Germany) with our wildcard from first wave Fenror7 pitched for a full house of 200 investors and bankers on 17th of January. The startups pitched in front of the distinguished international jury.
Tuesday, 01.08.2017 by Maria Pennanen
(Frankfurt am Main, 01.08.2017) Accelerator Frankfurt offers a “Go-to-Market Program” for later stage startups in need to accelerate their business development. Accelerator Frankfurt is a private initiative and works in close cooperation with the finance industry and SMEs in Germany.
Sunday, 16.07.2017 by Maria Pennanen
(Frankfurt am Main, 16.07.2017) Accelerator Frankfurt successfully completed its second wave. 
The startups Adjesty (Adtech, Israel), Aeroplan (Insurtech, Israel), AsiaFundManagers (Fintech, Germany), EcoKraft (Fintech, Germany), Norma (Cybersecurity, Korea), Smart Mile Solutions (Smart Cities, Netherlands) and Travel to Live (Traveltech, Canada/Sweden) pitched for a full house of 200 investors and interested stakeholders on 13th of July. The acceleration program condenses two years into four months.
Thursday, 29.06.2017 by Maria Pennanen
ACCELERATOR FRANKFURT's second DEMO DAY! Come see our passionate entrepreneurs pitching together with our guests from VABN. We invite investors from Europe to participate!

Tuesday, 20.06.2017 by Maria Pennanen
After working with startups for years and running an accelerator program, I can confirm that the key to success is quite simple. Obviously after you read this article, my ‘secret sauce’ will not be a secret anymore, so why am I writing this? The reason is that what we have built in Accelerator Frankfurt, cannot be built overnight.
Tuesday, 13.06.2017 by Maria Pennanen
Frankfurt is aiming to win a place as a startups hub in Germany and as a Fintech hub in Europe. Startups are often seen as the disruptors of businesses. The fear is that the use of modern technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Big Data, will make most of the repetitive tasks automated and the people doing them today redundant. On the brighter side the new technologies enable companies find new business models and markets. Big corporates are starting to see the necessity to engage with startups and there are strong reasons why SMEs should do the same.
Wednesday, 10.05.2017 by Maria Pennanen
Six weeks ago Accelerator Frankfurt launched its second wave. Eight diverse startups joined us: three German (, Travel to Live and EcoKraft), three Israeli (Adjesty, Aero-plan and Kensee), a Korean (Norma) and a Dutch company (Smart Mile Solutions) on board. Fintech is still our focus but being in Frankfurt we have seen the demand for Proptech, Cybersecurity, Machine-learning and Smart-city solutions that serve the corporates and medium size companies. We want to bring people with passion to Frankfurt to help the banks and corporates innovate and find solutions that solve their problems.
Sunday, 02.04.2017 by Maria Pennanen
(Frankfurt am Main, 02.04.2017) Accelerator Frankfurt’s second wave of startups began their four-month program on the 27th of March. The startups where presented during our Launch Event at our premises in the TechQuartier in Frankfurt.
Wednesday, 22.03.2017 by Maria Pennanen
Representing Frankfurt: Eric Menges, Ram Shoham, Sebastian Schäfer, Gerhard Kebbel, Peter Feldmann, Peter Buxmann, Jochen Biedermann and Uwe Becker. 
Wednesday, 25.01.2017 by Maria Pennanen
(Frankfurt am Main, 22.01.2017) Accelerator Frankfurt successfully completed its first program with a demo day on 16.01.2017 at TechQuartier. All the eight startups (Alyne, BeeEye, Cindicis, Fenror7, Pronteo, SchnellSpesen, SecuredTouch and Wroomer) that started the program in September, pitched during the final day of their acceleration program. The startups were in areas of FinTech, RegTech, Cyber Security, Predictive Analytics and FoodTech. During the program the startups matured and developed with good results. One of the Israeli startups has already secured a pilot with a German bank and several are in discussion of starting one. In addition, six of the startups have secured follow-on funding while the others will close their financing rounds in the coming weeks. “We are very happy with the results and also in achieving our KPIs: securing a pilot with a major bank and getting over 70% of our startups funded” says Maria Pennanen, co-founder of Accelerator Frankfurt.
Monday, 16.01.2017 by Maria Pennanen
16.01.2017 the startups from Accelerator Frankfurt will have their Demo day @TechQuartier. They are joined by startups from our collaboration partners Deutsche Börse Venture Network Fintech Hub, Main Incubator GmbH and VABN (Aurelis real estate GmbH). We have a full house and the registration for the event is closed. However you can join the live streaming via Startupradio starting 15:50 CET.

A big thank you for our sponsors Deutsche Bank,  Main Incubator, VABN, PWC, Taylor Wessing and Accelerator Frankfurt for making this event possible.
Tuesday, 06.12.2016 by Maria Pennanen
In the startup world we emphasize the importance of teams. Not without a reason; it is what makes or breaks a startup. Success depends on the ability of the team to work together under stressful conditions and still deliver results. Understanding your own and your team’s behavior and blind spots, facilitates finding a solution when a conflict occurs. Diversity is key for good teamwork and the fuel for innovation, however to change and to work in the best possible way requires effort.
Monday, 21.11.2016 by Maria Pennanen
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.
Thursday, 22.09.2016 by Maria Pennanen
(Frankfurt am Main, 22.09.2016) Accelerator Frankfurt’s first wave of startups have started their four month program on the 19th of September. The startups where presented during our Launch Event on Tuesday evening at our office in the Westhafen Tower.
Sunday, 18.09.2016 by Maria Pennanen
Accelerator Frankfurt’s first wave of startups will start their four month program on the 19th of September. The first program will take place in an elevated setting at one of Frankfurt’s main skyscrapers Westhafen Tower.
Wednesday, 29.06.2016 by Maria Pennanen
Maria Pennanen, Mitbegründerin des Accelerator Frankfurt, spricht im Interview mit altii über den Nutzen von Accelerators für Startups, Investoren und etablierte Unternehmen, die Zukunft Frankfurts als FinTech Hub und den Ansatz des Accelerator Frankfurt.