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While the debate still rages on whether or not Berlin will become Europe’s new tech hub, it’s not stopping some major players from placing their bets. A new accelerator from Germany will allow startups — from all around the world — dreaming of a Silicon valley experience, to get a foot in the door.
Axel Springer, the German mega media company behind publications such as Bild.de and Die Welt is teaming up with Plug and Play Tech Center, the Silicon Valley-based to fund and accelerate early stage startups.
Plug and Play Tech Center has a network of over 300 tech startups and 180 investors and boasts alumni such as PayPal, Dropbox, Zoosk and Danger. In total, startups from the American Plug and Play network have raised over one billion US dollars in venture capital so far. Axel Springer, who has acquired startups like Stepstone, Zanox and Idealo, claims 160 companies as part of its online portfolio.
The goal of the partnership is to “shape the future of digital multimedia,” giving an indication as to which startups will find favour. The accelerator is called The Axel Springer Plug & Play Accelerator and will serve as a link between Europe and Silicon Valley, utilising the Plug and Play Tech Center’s 100 global corporate partnerships. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to “think big and reach global scale through connections to key investors, mentors and technology influencers in Europe and Silicon Valley.”
The programme is open to international founders with “digital and innovative business concepts which have high market potential and are technologically pioneering.” Emerging markets such as Africa, with its high number of software startups is well poised to enter.
Starting in May 2013, up to ten participants will receive three months of coaching, office space in the heart of Berlin and seed financing of 25.000 euros. The coaching includes mentoring by founders of companies, workshops, as well as the exchange of ideas with the partners’ international network. The programme concludes with a “Demo Day”, in which all of the teams present themselves to a selected audience of international investors for follow-up financing. The most innovative startups from this crop, will be given the opportunity to extend the programme at the Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley.
“Participating startups benefit from the experience of the partners, high visibility and excellent contacts from our network. We pay particular attention to individual coaching. Axel Springer sees itself as a partner that increases value and that respects the creativity and independence of young entrepreneurs,” explains Ulrich Schmitz, Chief Technology Officer at Axel Springer.
Axel Springer and Plug and Play Tech Center, each hold a 50 percent stake in the accelerator. In exchange for financial investment, coaching, and office infrastructure, startups that are accepted into the programme should expect to a relinquish a five percent stake to Axel Springer Plug and Play.
Saeed Amidi, CEO and founder of the Plug and Play Tech Center: “We are looking forward to getting in touch with the Berlin startup scene und its numerous creative founders. We guide and assist innovative startups on site with our accelerator and give them access to our international network.”
The application phase for the first accelerator programme will end on 19 April, 2013.