Silicon Valley, Deutschland

Since the 1980s the region around Karlsruhe has been the nucleus for innovations in artificial intelligence. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) recently brought it into the de:hub fold, awarding it its own Digital Hub Initiative.

October, 2018

In February, a press release from the startup Things Thinking caused a stir: “Artificial intelligence from Karlsruhe examines coalition agreement: SPD performs well,” read the headline. The machine experts had examined whether the contract – which sets out the future cooperation of the political parties in government – contained more content from the CDU/CSU parties or the SPD.

The result surprised technologists as much as it did political commentators: for an algorithm to analyze various texts and draw comparisons was a huge step forward, because until now human brains have been streets ahead of algorithms in terms of understanding speech. Now Things Thinking is shifting this paradigm.


Percentage of all students at the Karlsruhe universities who are enrolled in degree programs in the field of ICT.

Source: DIZ – Digitales Innovationszentrum

The startup from Karlsruhe is part of a cluster of institutes, companies and educational institutions now widely recognized as Germany’s most important location for the development of AI. The second biggest city in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg is home to 26 research institutes, ten incubators and 4,400 digital companies. Within a 400 meter radius you can find renowned research institutions such as the FZI Research Center for Computer Science, the corporate network Cyberforum, the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, Systems Engineering and Image Evaluation, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

It was no surprise, then, when the BMWi decided to award Karlsruhe its own Digital Hub, as a part of the de:hub initiative, in the specialist area of Applied Artificial Intelligence. Since the launch of the de:hub initiative in early 2017, twelve digital hubs have been launched under the umbrella brand. They form an overarching network that strengthens the Federal Republic as a digital location and makes it easier for foreign companies to invest.


Number of companies from the digital economy that have settled in Karlsruhe and the surrounding area.

Source: De:hub

Within the network there are many startups that claim to be producing groundbreaking products, services and disruptive technologies. There are also bigger companies such as the internet service provider 1&1, the software manufacturer Adesso and the financial services provider Grenke, which is joining forces with the newcomers to drive forward innovation.

“We are currently working on attracting foreign companies to the network,” explains project leader Simon Sulzer, who coordinates de:hub activities in Karlsruhe. Karlsruhe is a magnet for foreign companies who come not only to invest but to find qualified professionals: roughly a quarter of the 44,000 students in the region are studying information and communication technology.

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