Farm & Food 4.0
International Congress Berlin
Farm & Food 4.0
Credits: Leo Seidel

10. February 2020

Startups in Germany: Dino meets Unicorn

A review of the workshop on the AgTech ecosystem at Farm & Food 2020

How could our ecosystem for startups in germany improve? This question was the focus of the AgTech Ecosystem Workshop. Lack of funding in Germany makes life difficult for innovators. There is a lack of capital, investors, partnerships and networks. We ask: How can we build an ecosystem for innovation in Agtech in Germany? Who and what is necessary for this? We addressed startups, funding institutions such as banks and state support programs, VCs and CVs, knowledge providers and consultants, incubators and accelerators. 

By Laura von Ketteler and Sarah Liebigt

Moderated by Prof. Dr. Katrin Schnitker. Participants: Jobst von Petersdorff (KWS Group), Dr. Klaus Heider (BMEL), Ralf Borchers (NBank), Sebastian Schauff (, Prof. Dr. Bastian Halecker (HUNGRY VENTURES) Dr Katrin Jakob (California Business Associates), Eva Piepenbrock (f3).

The fishbowl format not only allows for broad discussions, but above all the active participation of the audience. The following text traces the discussion in extracts.

Challenges for startups in germany:

  • A stronger cooperation with Cooperatives is important. Startups can learn from successful companies and receive financial support if necessary. Companies in turn benefit from the spirit of innovation.
  • In Germany, corporates are currently more interested in already developed ideas and are reluctant to take risks.
  • Startups have no difficulty in obtaining investments and funding, but this support is usually limited to the beginning of the startup. In Germany there is a lack of funding in later phases of the startup.
  • Cooperation between startups and stakeholders is particularly important. A good idea can only work if, for example, the farmer is convinced of the product.
  • Bureaucracy is often an obstacle and takes an extremely long time, which is easier in the USA.
  • Education and the teaching system often do not include the topic of innovation in their curriculum. There are some exceptions, such as the University of Applied Sciences in Osnabrück. But students are not encouraged to think innovatively.
  • Startups are often too focused on problem solving, and profitability is at least as important.
  • Often investors lack the necessary knowledge in the agricultural and food sector.
  • In contrast to the USA, failure is a no go. This is why the willingness to take risks is low.
  • Risk distribution is often the sole responsibility of the founders
  • There is not yet a functioning ecosystem (network of investors)


Workshop Ecosystem Agtech, Farm & Food 2020


Wishes and solutions for startups in germany:

  • We need VC education and mentors who help startups
  • Accelerators in connection with platforms, such as experimental fields
  • Startups need to be more open to practitioners.
  • The exchange must become more international.
  • The motto must be “Dino meets Unicorn”: Cooperatives and startups must work together.
  • Universities should set a focus on innovation
  • Germany needs funds / agrifood funds
  • There is also a need for more incubators specialised in the market.
  • There must be an exchange between founders.
  • We need interdisciplinary teams in order to be able to develop practically.
  • More trust of the investors in the founders.
  • Founders must think internationally right from the start.
  • Products must be tested at an early stage, and then staying power is required.

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