Deep Tech Momentum 23
EUROPE’S DEEP TECH ENTHUSIASTS MEET IN AACHEN FOR A FOUR-DAY INTENSE BOOTCAMP
Deep tech innovation is often overlooked or even consciously neglected by VCs, mentors, industry leaders and incubators alike – despite its unparalleled disruptive power and profound impact on people and planet. Reasons may vary from longer time-to-market periods, more investment-intense product development, higher regulatory hurdles, slower growth rates, and later break-even points as compared to more shallow technological inventions. As a result, many technologies with groundbreaking potential never find their way into society.
AACHEN: IN THE HEART OF EUROPE AT PULSE OF DEEP TECH INNOVATION
From 24 to 27 May 2023, more than 350 deep tech enthusiasts came together in Aachen to change that: Over 250 founders, 50 mentors and 25 selected VCs from all over Europe joined forces to strive for much-needed momentum – Deep Tech Momentum. The four-day bootcamp saw many promising technologies – whether in (aero)space, 3D printing, AI/ML, AR/VR, advanced vision, biotech, climate tech, cloud computing, IoT, deep learning, IT infrastructure, Industry 4.0, legal tech, mobility, natural language processing, new energy, next-gen healthcare, robotics, supply chain transportation, logistics, or semiconductors.
In its second year, the initiators from RWTH Aachen University and Techstars Berlin invited the growing DTM community to Aachen, a hotspot for deep tech founders with RWTH as the birthplace of numerous cutting-edge technologies and RWTH Innovation as a leading integrated deep tech incubator in Europe. Embedded into the STARTUP WEEK AACHEN, the event marked the grand finale of an action-packed week of celebrating innovation in the region. With the ATEC23 as Day 0, the DTM participants had the chance to explore the vibrant Aachen start-up community first-hand. The final panel discussion of the day on “Building Europe’s Deep Tech Titans” focused on how to clear the path for new space, robotics, quantum, and more. The panelists Thomas Sattelberger, Fannie Delavelle, Dr. Charlotte Bruce, Prof. Malte Brettel and Dr. Martin Schilling highlighted the great opportunities but also the great roadblocks of deep tech, defining basic requirements, outlining different approaches and demanding bold action for such innovation to thrive.
TEAMBUILDING, MENTOR MADNESS, WORKSHOPS, PITCHING
On Day 1, Prof. Malte Brettel and Dr. Martin Schilling picked up right where they had left off the day before, kicking off the bootcamp with a commitment to turn words into action. The goal for the day was to build a strong team and set an attractive north star. To do so, the founders and joiners started with a co-founder matchmaking session. Afterwards, the existing and newly found teams spent the afternoon in interactive workshops in order to create a successful pre-seed fundraising pitch deck and prepare a north star canvas for six key questions that investors seek answers to. The day ended with an open working session, allowing the teams to get to know each other better and apply the workshop input to their specific business.
The second official day of DTM was all about refining the teams’ direction with the help of top-notch mentors and investors. In a three-hour “Mentor Madness”, the teams had the chance to get in touch with expert mentors in their respective field. In up to eight 20-minute one-on-one ‘speed-dating’ sessions, the teams discussed their business cases with one of the more than 50 on-site and virtual mentors to get feedback on whatever topic or question they had. The afternoon was packed with deep-dive workshops on different topics, offered by DTM’s corporate and VC partners. All founders and joiners were free to choose from a pool of eight in-depth workshops, depending on their needs:
- Amadeus Capital Partners: From Stealth to Exit: What you should know about Terms and Valuation in Deep Tech
- Chemovator: Build and Launch Products with Confidence - A Patent is no Guarantee to win Customers
- Earlybird Venture Capital: Building Bridges: The Art of Cultivating Strong Founder-Investor Relationships in the Deep Tech Space
- Hightech Gründerfonds: From Lab to Market: Achieving Product-Market Fit in the Deep Tech Space
- Lakestar: Navigating the Investment Landscape for Deep Tech Startups: Fundraising Strategies and Best Practice
- Microsoft: Supercharging Venture-Building with Azure OpenAI
- Orrick: Employee Participation Programs – VSOP, ESOP and Growth/Hurdle Shares
- VSquared Ventures: Investing in the (seemingly) Impossible: Understanding the Criteria for Deep Tech VC Funding
Day 2 was rounded off by a fireside chat with Brad Feld, co-founder of Techstars, who joined the event live from his home in Colorado and told the community in Aachen about his ‘give first’ philosophy. Afterwards the teams had time to prepare their pitch deck for the final day.
The purpose of Day 3 was to present the progress made over the last days and pitch a fundable venture. For this special occasion, the DTM community moved down the road to the digitalCHURCH Aachen, a former church that is now home to the digitalHUB Aachen e.V. The intense days of learning and training culminated in a tight pitching session. More than 50 teams seized the chance to pitch their start-up in 60 seconds, with only eight teams making it into the finals. For a chance to win one of the Investment and Accelerate Awards, the teams had to not only convince the expert jury of investors, but also win the favor of the public vote by all participants. The mixed voting resulted in the following finalists:
- Silica Corpora
- Lúnasa Space
- Xena DX
In the Pitch finale, the nominated teams had the opportunity to deliver a more detailed pitch, followed by a Q&A session with the jury consisting of Susanne K. Schorsch (Amadeus Capital Partners), Markus Kückelhaus (High-Tech-Gründerfonds), Philipp Semmer (Earlybird Venture Capital), Steven Jacobs (Lakestar), and Niklas Hebborn (Freigeist Capital). After careful consideration, the jury announced the following winners:
- Investment Prize by Earlybird Venture Capital: Gemesys
- Investment Prize by High-Tech Gründerfonds: Veecle
- Accelerate Award by Lakestar: Silica Corpora
- Accelerate Award by Freigeist Capital: Lúnasa Space
- Accelerate Award by Amadeus Capital Partners: Gemesys
Apart from the winners of the pitch contest, there was another winner: the DTM community. With the official agenda of this year’s bootcamp coming to end, many participants decided to stay in order to further connect with the community, share experiences, exchange contact details, explore Aachen, and make plans for future meetings and visits.
Together with our co-initiators from Techstars Berlin, we want to thank everyone who made DTM23 a success! We are truly impressed by the diversity, determination, and disruption that everyone brought to the table, and we are looking forward to following your journey. The future is deep – and together, we create Deep Tech Momentum.