Since its launch in 2016, Merantix has already spun off five AI start-ups, with ten more to follow in the next four years. To achieve this goal, the Berlin-based company raised a €25 million fund in early 2020 and recently added two long-time Merantix employees to the management board. The founders Adrian Locher and Dr. Rasmus Rothe are now manifesting their vision of establishing a European ecosystem for AI with Merantix by building the "AI Campus" in Berlin-Mitte.
The "AI Campus" is a not-for-profit project with the goal of further developing the AI community in Berlin to make Germany and the EU more attractive as an AI location. The "AI Campus" is being built on the second floors of a new building in the center of Berlin (Mitte) and offers space for more than 20 companies and start-ups to rent at cost price.
Blueprint for other AI initiatives and modern (office) work
So far, the AI ecosystem in Berlin has been organised in a rather decentralised way. The idea behind the “AI Campus” is now that the AI transfer can only be successful if the various stakeholders come together and work in a central location. The “AI Campus” can then also serve as a blueprint for further transfer hubs in other federal states of Germany.
An innovative “Future of Work” concept by interior design specialist Vitra will enable contemporary interaction and collaboration in the “AI Campus”. Even if modern forms of work such as remote work or home office are becoming increasingly important, physical presence in a stimulating atmosphere is still needed to validate ideas. The heart of the AI Campus is therefore – in addition to various modifiable office and studio rooms – the 700 square metre “Connection Space”. The exchange between the individual teams and domains, which will be promoted there, is expected to lead to considerable leaps in AI development and application. In addition, individual offices, meeting rooms and workshop and laboratory-like maker spaces offer all other possibilities for modern working.
Companies who are interested in becoming a part of the “AI Campus” can now get in touch with Merantix about it.
Adrian Locher, CEO of Merantix: “Germany is struggling to establish the ‚Made in Germany‘ seal of quality in the AI sector. There is a lack of real, groundbreaking initiatives on the part of politics, for example. This is why we are deliberately building the ‚AI Campus‘ not far from the country’s main political artery. Our motto: ‘Don’t wait for another AI strategy paper, but finally create facts!’”
Dr. Rasmus Rothe, CTO of Merantix: “The collaboration of experts from different domains is a decisive success factor for AI solutions: Only if the latest research is combined with visionary ideas to work together on data sets and business models can AI be developed sustainably. With the ‘AI Campus’ we are creating exactly the right place for this – and not just in three, five or ten years, but in just a few months.”
Christian Rickerts, State Secretary in the Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Business: “Berlin as an AI location offers a unique variety of research institutions, start-ups and companies. Initiatives like the ‘AI Campus’ are ideal for bringing all these players together in one physical location and making them even more visible through joint projects.”
Rafael Laguna de la Vera, Director of the Federal Agency SprinD: “Disruptive solutions are created where the latest research meets customer-centric applications. The ‘AI Campus’ is an ideal place to make exactly that possible – and to advance ‘AI made in Europe’.”
Jack Thoms, Director at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Berlin: “I am delighted that Merantix is building this hub here in Berlin and is sending a strong signal for Berlin as an AI location. It will bring the ecosystem closer together, enabling many synergies.”
Joerg Bienert, President KI Bundesverband e.V.: “The ‘AI Campus’ offers further visibility for AI and start-ups by further bringing together and developing the Berlin ecosystem. It offers the ideal breeding ground to build further bridges from start-ups to SMEs, and thus to bring everyone forward.”
Merantix (https://www.merantix.com) is the world’s first venture studio for artificial intelligence. By building up start-ups, Merantix drives the transfer of AI research to application in the economy.
Merantix was founded by Adrian Locher (CEO), a Swiss series founder and investor, and by Dr. Rasmus Rothe (CTO), an internationally renowned AI and computer vision expert from Bremen.
Since 2016, the team of more than 70 scientists, technologists and founders has been building up start-ups from Berlin in areas such as healthcare (Vara), Big Data (SiaSearch), business intelligence (Kausa) and biotech (tba). With Merantix Labs, there is also a team specialised in project work with established companies and groups (e.g. Lanxess, Volkswagen and TÜV).
At the beginning of 2020 Merantix set up a venture capital fund with 25 million euros. It is mainly supported by investors such as Trusted Insight, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and various European family offices. With the help of this fund, Merantix intends to establish ten new AI start-ups over the next four years.