Matchmaking: SMEs + KI-Startups

MISSION AI, appliedAI Institute for Europe, Technology Park Heidelberg, and IPAI bring medium-sized businesses and AI startups together.

Press Release: April 10, 2024

Identifying their own AI needs, selecting providers, and implementing solutions tie up many resources for medium-sized companies. This is exactly where a joint project of MISSION AI, the appliedAI Institute for Europe, the Technology Park Heidelberg, and IPAI comes in: In three steps, medium-sized companies are accompanied on the path to tailored AI projects. First, the AI challenges of the companies are identified, then suitable AI startups from across Germany are selected, and in July 2024, the selected project partners will be brought together at an event. Currently, medium-sized companies from Baden-Württemberg are actively invited by the organizers, but they can also apply for the program themselves.


Medium-sized companies should get to know AI technologies and find tailored solutions from AI startups. This allows the medium-sized sector easier access to new technologies as well as concrete applications of AI. For AI startups, the format should provide a platform to strengthen their visibility, make contacts, receive feedback on their solutions, and win customers. Ideally, partnerships for actionable projects will be formed. Participating AI startups should be actively introduced to the market but have been founded no longer than five years ago.

Manfred Rauhmeier, Managing Director of acatech - German Academy of Science and Engineering, emphasizes: "As part of this project, we are bringing together regional medium-sized companies with AI startups from all over Germany. The strong middle class in the regions is an engine of the German economy, but of course, it is subject to the same degree of digital transformation as the economy worldwide. AI does not stop at the regions, the pressure for innovation is high. That is why we will analyze the specific needs of the participating companies and bring them together with selected AI startups so that tailored solutions can be created for internationally competitive companies."

Thomas Weber, President of acatech – German Academy of Science and Engineering, is pleased with the project launch: "With the matchmaking, MISSION AI meets the demand to promote the growth of AI innovations with targeted measures. The project creates a bridge between the specific needs of the regional medium-sized companies and the innovation strength of nationwide AI startups, which accelerates the transfer of competitive AI innovations to the market. MISSION AI thus sets targeted impulses for a growing AI ecosystem – an important signal for technological sovereignty and the sustainable design of the innovation location Germany."

Dr. André Domin, Managing Director of Technologiepark Heidelberg GmbH, explains: "The connection of established medium-sized companies with emerging AI startups is a win-win for both sides. The middle class gains quick access to innovative technologies to improve its own competitiveness. The startups can validate the value contribution of their technology and gain reference customers. In addition, local competence holders are networked regionally and made known as drivers of innovation."


In an interview, the individual innovation needs of the participating companies are determined. Subsequently, tailored AI startups from all over Germany are scouted based on this foundation. The selected 10 companies and 12-15 AI startups will be brought together at a networking event to exchange ideas on potential collaborations directly.

The goal is for companies and AI startups to define projects and initiatives based on the identified AI needs and then implement them together. The implementation will be developed bilaterally by the interconnected project partners, the medium-sized company, and the startup in the subsequent process.

The matchmaking is the prelude to various measures of MISSION AI, which will start in the coming months. To support medium-sized companies in developing trustworthy AI applications, MISSION AI, together with other partners, is opening AI innovation and quality centers at several locations in Germany. In these AI centers, companies will have access to know-how for implementing AI systems, among other things. In addition, MISSION AI also supports spin-offs of AI applications from research.

Application for companies until April 26, 2024:



MISSION AI – National Initiative for Artificial Intelligence and Data Economy is a joint project of acatech – German Academy of Science and Engineering and the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV). The leverage project of the digital strategy of the federal government aims to strengthen digital competitiveness. The initiative pursues three goals: Firstly, MISSION AI aims to expand the data basis for AI innovations and network data spaces across sector and national borders. Furthermore, MISSION AI aims to create transparent AI quality and testing standards and, based on this, define voluntary AI standards according to German and European values. For this purpose, MISSION AI establishes innovation and quality centers, i.e., testing and experimentation environments and public experience spaces. Moreover, MISSION AI aims to support the growth of AI innovations. To achieve this, MISSION AI connects founders with investors and companies.



Dr. Peyman Khodabakhsh

Project Management MISSION AI – National Initiative for Artificial Intelligence and Data Economy

acatech – German Academy of Science and Engineering

M +49 30 20630964-5


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About acatech – German Academy of Science and Engineering

acatech advises politics and society, supports innovation policy decision-making, and represents engineering sciences internationally. The academy fulfills its mandate independently, based on science, and oriented towards the common good, as assigned by the federal government and the federal states. acatech illustrates the opportunities and risks of technological developments and advocates for turning ideas into innovations and innovations into prosperity, welfare, and quality of life. acatech brings together science and business. The members of the academy are outstanding scientists from engineering and natural sciences, medicine, as well as humanities and social sciences. The senators are personalities from technology-oriented companies and associations as well as the major science organizations. In addition to the acatech FORUM in Munich as its headquarters, acatech maintains offices in Berlin and Brussels.

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