Growth Spurt for Greentech

Germany’s efforts to transition to a sustainable economy have provided a major boost to funding for greentech start-ups. International companies are flocking to Germany to benefit from the boom in environmental technology and generous government incentives.

September 2022

A short visit to Berlin to attend Fruit Logistica – the world’s biggest trade show for fresh produce – was enough to convince Nikita Gulin that Germany’s vibrant capital was the place to grow his business. The cofounder of the agricultural technology start-up Agranimo relocated from Chile to Berlin in 2021, which helped secure an investment of EUR 2 million from Netherlands-based Nector Holdings.

Agranimo provides real-time data that enables farmers to use water, fertilizers and pesticides far more efficiently than when they employ conventional methods. The data also helps reduce CO2 emissions by enabling food retailers to improve cold chain and inventory management.

“Without digital monitoring of climate, soil and crops, farmers overirrigate a lot, and the same is true for fertilizers and pesticides,” Gulin says. “If a supermarket has a heads-up on incoming shipments, it can arrange a promotional campaign rather than dumping produce whenever there is an imbalance between supply and demand.”

The Bottom Line

Germany has more greentech start-ups than anywhere else in the EU. And the German government is offering attractive incentives and support to keep those numbers growing.

No longer niche

Greentech has grown into a major segment of the German start-up scene, bolstered by the government’s pledge to cut CO2 gas emissions by at least 55 percent of 1990 levels by 2030.

According to the German Startups Association’s Green Startup Monitor 2021, 30 percent of German start-ups are now greentech enterprises – a 21 percent increase from 2019. Germany has even taken the lead in terms of “climatetech start-ups” in the EU, adds the VC fund Speedinvest’s European Climate Tech report, with over 250 companies. That’s more than twice as many as France in second place.

It’s no surprise then that last October, World Fund – Europe’s biggest dedicated climatetech venture capital fund – was launched in Berlin. It aims to raise EUR 350 million by the end of 2022.

“Sustainability has long ceased to be a niche topic among German founders, who are the pioneers in new-type economic activity,” says Christoph J. Stresing, director of the German Startups Association. “The research landscape in Germany is a real treasure, with government programs such as the EXIST Business Start-up Grant lending important support for innovation and commercialization.”

50%

of emission reductions to reach the net-zero benchmark will be due to technology
Source: International Energy Agency (IEA)

Investing for the future

Women are particularly motivated to invest their money wisely in anticipation of dwindling purchasing power as they get older. “Starting around age 35, financial provision for retirement becomes increasingly important for women in Germany,” says Decker. She adds that taking control of their financial destiny and building up their assets help women look to the future with confidence and optimism.

According to a recent study, women accounted for only a third of all company share owners in Germany in 2021. But Decker says that’s changing and anticipates great growth potential in the market. That’s why she’s planning to expand and is currently hiring: finmarie is seeking talent in the areas of technology, product management and digital security.

$3.4BN

is the amount of venture capital invested in German climatetech start-ups in 2020
Source: Speedinvest

Connecting start-ups and SMEs

The Digital Hub Initiative also supports green­tech innovation. The 12 hubs throughout the country provide networks, incubators, accelerators and coworking spaces to facilitate projects between start-ups and SMEs.

Agranimo is part of the Dresden/Leipzig hub, whereas Appanion – a provider of data services for the precise evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions from freight transport – is a member of the Hamburg hub. The data Appanion analyzes from digital order management systems in trucks and cargo ships provides “emissions transparency” throughout the entire shipping process.

“If a logistics company invests in an electric truck fleet, the purchasing manager of their contractor, e.g. an automaker, can understand this change through our platform, allowing the electric trucks to become a competitive advantage for transportation providers,” says Martin Jacobs, Appanion’s business development lead. “The purchasing manager can then shift orders toward this supplier, bundle batches or shift transport modes, for example, from road to rail, and reduce the CO2 footprint.”

In the Munich digital hub, the start-up ­eco.­mio aims to reduce emissions caused by business travel with an algorithm that integrates with the client company’s booking tool. It benchmarks travel behavior, proposes the most climate-friendly travel mode for business trips and promotes cheaper and eco-friendlier offers.

“By not only cutting CO2 emissions but also costs, our algorithm has the perfect selling point, which opens the doors wide for a green­tech start-up like we are,” says Katharina ­Riederer, eco.mio’s CEO.

FDI PERSPECTIVE

Last year Nector Holdings, the agritech arm of the South African food producer HL Hall & Sons, invested EUR 2 million in a Berlin-based company called Agranimo. The start-up enables farmers to use water and chemicals more efficiently on the basis of real-time data. The deal will fund the development of deeper on-farm analytics to support supply chains; it also facilitated a swift exit for Agranimo’s accelerator VC after just 20 months.

“Over the last 12 months we have developed a strong partnership, one that is based on a shared vision for technology in the food value chain, as well as a common culture and set of principles,” says Nector’s managing director, Richard Franklin. “The Agranimo leadership team has built a dynamic, forward-thinking business that tackles some of the core challenges in agriculture today.

2M

The capital injection into Agranimo by Nector, the agritech arm of HL Hall & Sons

130

The number of years the fresh produce supplier HL Hall & Sons has been operating

6

The number of years the Berlin agritech start-up Agranimo has been in business

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