In the German digital scene there is a select group of startup founders, investors and lobbyists who are particularly close to the federal government: the Young Digital Economy Advisory Board (BJDW). Since 2013, the committee has been advising the incumbent Minister of Economic Affairs on all questions relating to new technologies and better growth conditions for startups – and thus also has an influence on politics.
Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) re-appointed the Digital Council in August (full list see below). The advisory group met for the first time on Monday afternoon in a video conference lasting just under two and a half hours. Four main topics were discussed: recruiting skilled workers, artificial intelligence, promoting female founders and Europe’s digital sovereignty.
For the first time, more women than men on the Digital Council
Although the startup rescue package is still an urgent topic for many founders, the corona aid was not on the agenda. According to reports, there should be a separate meeting. However, with a view to the crisis months, Minister of Economics Altmaier indicated that the digitization of the economy had obviously become more relevant for him. The corona pandemic “once again made it clear that we have to get faster and better here.”
Half of the new Young Digital Economy Advisory Board is made up of founders and half of investors and digital associations. In addition to smaller startups, big names such as Flixbus, Celonis and Getyourguide also appear. Only one member of the advisory board comes from science. The newly elected BJDW chairmen Miriam Wohlfarth (Ratepay) and Christian Vollmann (Nebenan.de) are both familiar faces in the start-up scene. For the first time, more women than men were appointed to the advisory group (15 vs. 14).
Here is the complete list of the founders, investors, lobbyists and academics who sit on the 29-member advisory board:
1. Startup bosses and founders
Anne Kjær Bathel is the founder and boss of ReDI School of Digital Integration. With her programming school she teaches refugees IT skills and wants to contribute to integration. Bathel is recognized as an expert in digital education.
Lina Behrens is managing director at Flying Health. The company advises startups and established players in the medical sector on the subject of digitization.
Eckart Diepenhorst is the European boss of the taxi app Free Now, which is part of the joint mobility offensive by BMW and Daimler. Diepenhorst was previously with the Free Now predecessor Mytaxi and is considered an expert in the field of new mobility.
Julia Freudenberg, Managing director of Hacker School, advocates access to digital education. Your charitable project is aimed primarily at young people.
Finn Age Hansel is the founder and head of the cannabis startup Sanity Group, which sells cosmetics based on CBD. As the former managing director of the moving start-up Movinga and ex-manager at Rocket Internet, he knows the ups and downs of founding the company well.
Anna Kaiser is the founder and managing director of the job sharing platform Tandemploy. She is a sought-after discussion partner on the topic of digital change in the world of work.
Tom Kirschbaum is the founder and managing director of Door2Door. The software startup develops on-call bus apps for local public transport.
Tina Klüwer is the head of the AI startup Parliament. The startup is developing software for intelligent speech recognition that, for example, automatically answers customer e-mails.
Bastian Nominacher is the founder and co-CEO of the Munich company Celonis, which is one of the most valuable startups in the country with a valuation of 2.5 billion euros. Celonis is a global leader in the field of intelligent process optimization and is often mentioned in the same breath as Germany’s largest software group SAP.
Maria Piechnick is the founder and product manager at the Dresden robot startup Change bots. The startup wants companies to focus on Industry 4.0. prepare by developing a simple solution for controlling robots.
Johannes Reck is the founder and head of the Berlin travel platform Getyourguide, which with a valuation of more than one billion euros is one of Germany’s greatest startup hopes. Reck has meanwhile become an influential voice in political Berlin. Most recently he had campaigned for employee participation in startups.
Stephanie Renda is the founder of the IoT startup Match2blue and has been campaigning for the interests of the startup scene for many years. Among other things, Renda initiated the nationwide network of women entrepreneurs within the startup association.
André Schwämmlein is the founder and managing director of FlixbusParent company Flixmobility. The platform for bus and train travel had suffered heavily in the wake of the travel restrictions of the past few months. As the founder of a former student start-up, Schwämmlein knows the challenges of startups in the growth phase well.
Christian Vollmann has the neighborhood network Nebenan.de founded. He has also invested in several startups as a business angel and is Vice President of the Federal Association of German Startups.
Miriam Wohlfarth is one of the most famous faces of the German fintech scene. The payment service provider is one of the founding companies Rate payment and the loan startup Banxware.
Lea-Sophie Cramer is the founder of the online erotic shop Amorelie. Since retiring from the management, she has appeared more as an investor and supports female founders with a mentoring program.
Alexander von Frankenberg runs the state investment fund High-tech start-up fund and is therefore closely involved in the federal government’s startup funding.
Christoph Gerlinger is the head of the investment firm German Startups Group. The venture capitalist holds stakes in Soundcloud, Onefootball and Mister Spex, among others.
Lisa Gradow is a business angel and board member of the startup association. Until June she was the head of the start-up Usercentrics, which offers solutions for user consent for websites. Gradow is therefore also an expert in data protection and the GDPR.
Ute Günther is the board member of the association Business Angels Network Germany (BAND), which represents the interests of private investors.
Fabian Heilemann is a partner in the venture capitalist Earlybird. The investment firm is one of the country’s oldest startup financiers. Her holdings include N26, Eyeem and Ui Path.
Ulrike Hinrichs is the managing director of Federal Association of German Private Equity Companies. The association represents the interests of 200 associated companies.
Gesa Miczaika is the founder of the investment firm Auxxo – the first German angel investor consisting of a pure female investor team. Her team mainly invests in female-led startups. Miczaika is therefore particularly in demand when it comes to female founders.
Judith dada is the managing director of the Berlin early-stage investor La Famiglia. Your fund manages money from well-known entrepreneurial families such as Siemens, Mittal or Swarovski. According to its own statement, La Famiglia sees itself as a bridge builder between the old economy and the startup ecosystem.
3. Digital associations
Jörg Bienert is chairman of the Federal AI Association. The lobby association works to ensure that the concerns of companies in the field of artificial intelligence are heard in Berlin.
Oliver Green is president of Bundesverband IT-Mittelstand. The organization represents more than 2,000 IT companies and, according to its own statement, is the largest professional association for medium-sized IT companies in Germany.
Lena Sophie Müller directs the Initiative D21. The association sees itself as a network for the digital society and wants to advance digital policy in Germany – for example with regard to digital education, infrastructure and regulation.
Florian Noell is the former boss of Federal Association of German Startups and therefore one of the longest-serving members of the Young Digital Economy Advisory Board. In November 2019, he switched to management consultancy PwC, where he heads the startup initiative NextLevel.
Dominik Michels is the only voice from science that the Federal Ministry of Economics has appointed to the advisory board. As Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics he teaches at the Saudi Arabian King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Before that, he held positions at Stanford University and the University of Bonn.