Lively start-up scene
Supported by the strong digital sector, the proximity to research and development and the innovation-friendly climate of the entire region, a flourishing start-up scene has developed in Karlsruhe. For start-ups, the fan-shaped city is a place where they can not only find technical expertise and first-class trained specialists, but also support from the orientation phase through to the start-up and maturity phase.
Start-up support already begins during studies. The xLab at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences gives students the opportunity to learn how to think and act entrepreneurially and to work on their start-up project at an early stage. The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has created several platforms for potential start-ups with the Gründerschmiede, the PionierGarage and entrepreneurship training through EnTechnon.
After graduation, accelerators such as the CyberLab or the energy accelerator AXEL in the Technologiefabrik support start-ups with intensive coaching on the way to founding a company. In contrast, start-up centers, so-called incubators, are more general and operate on a medium-term basis. Start-ups can rent office space there, exchange ideas with other founders and make use of the existing infrastructure.
Including the accelerators, there are twelve start-up centers in Karlsruhe with a total area of around 33,000 square meters, which are home to over 250 companies. Another start-up and growth center is currently being created on the Hoepfner Brewery site with the Smart Production Park, which is part of the CyberLab. The 5,400 square meter start-up space will offer start-ups related to IT, AI, IT security and smart production access to 150 mentors and 1,200 companies – all in a central, inner-city location.
Applied artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the topics of the future that has the potential to change our world for good. Karlsruhe recognized this early on and pooled the expertise of local institutions that had developed over decades. The fan-shaped city was recognized as a Digital Hub for Applied Artificial Intelligence by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) back in 2017. Today, the region is considered one of the most important locations in Germany for the development and application of AI.
The transfer of knowledge and technology from research to application plays a central role in this context. Or to put it another way: only close cooperation between business, science and administration makes it possible to move AI methods and technologies from mere theory to practical application.
The Digital Hub Karlsruhe draws on a strong network of around 4,800 IT companies, over 30 AI start-ups, 26 research and development institutions and 10,000 computer science students. This gives companies in the region the unique opportunity to integrate AI solutions into their business models during the development phase – and at the same time support researchers in their work with data from practical applications.
The optimization of district heating networks, the intelligent processing of data in the construction industry and AI-supported diagnostics in medicine are just some of the projects that the de:hub has implemented in recent years with a network of business, science and education.
There are excellent universities and renowned research institutions within a radius of a few hundred meters in Karlsruhe. Embedded in strong networks, established companies meet ambitious founders. The resulting innovative strength has given rise to several important centers of excellence in the Karlsruhe region.
The Competence Center for Applied Security Technology (KASTEL) is one of three competence centers for cyber security in Germany. It represents research and teaching in the field of information security and reliability at KIT. Founded in 2011, it has successfully advanced IT security research. KASTEL focuses on IT security in the areas of Industry 4.0 and 5G network expansion.
In line with the de:hub for applied AI, the regional competence center “Artificial Intelligence for Work and Learning in the Karlsruhe Region” (KARL) was launched in 2021. The focus here is on the transparency and traceability of AI applications as well as data protection and answering ethical and legal questions. If you like, everything revolves around people, which should increase the acceptance of artificial intelligence in society in the medium term.
Karlsruhe is also home to several competence centers for SMEs 4.0, which are driving forward the digital transformation in small and medium-sized enterprises. The Karlsruhe Research Factory for AI-integrated Production by KIT and Fraunhofer, meanwhile, is dedicated to the future topic of “intelligent production”, which is being researched and developed there in a practical way using real processes.