German and British Startups Named to 2020 ContentShift Accelerator

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With jury enthusiasm ‘in no way diminished’ because of this year’s pandemic-driven restrictions, the Börsenverein’s program for startups now begins its three-month mentoring stage.

Image – iStockphoto: Tzido

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘The Wide Scope of Today’s Content Sector’
In this year’s round of competition, the German ContentShift program announces today (June 25) that it will again award a €10,000 grant (US$11,211) to its “Content Startup of the Year”–to be named at the October 14 to 18 Frankfurter Buchmesse.

Publishing Perspectives readers are very familiar with the ContentShift program, which since 2016 the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels–Germany’s Publishers and Booksellers Association–has been operating to identify and support startups working in spaces relative to books and media.

While last year three nations were represented in the shortlist of six companies chosen for the accelerator, this year only Germany and Britain are represented. The program says that there were a few more applications than last year, 39 over 2019’s 36. The group of finalists is up from last year’s five to six this year.

ContentShift 2020 Finalists

These are the six startups–chosen in a preliminary round of pitching:

  • Artificial Connect GmbH (Germany): Working in automated text summaries for editing systems
  • SciFlow (Germany): Working on a collaborative online text editor that enables users to create, manage, and format scientific texts
  • PlusPlural (Germany): Developing a hybrid of book and tactile learning toy used as a barrier-free medium for blind and sighted children
  • Freya Sense (UK): Working with an algorithm that uses cognitive science and behavioral economics “to identify triggers and catalysts for customer and target-group behavior”
  • Scriptbakery AI (Germany): Working on a digital receipt, management, and analysis of submitted manuscripts using machine learning
  • Questlog (Germany): Working on wooden storage boxes that combine analogue and digital travel memories using cloud folders in the covers

As in most activities, the work of the program this year is being handled digitally for safety in the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. In the next three months, the six startups will participate in coaching sessions and a co-creation workshop. These events are intended to give them opportunities to discuss their business models with jury members and explore current challenges and opportunities for cooperation.

Each startup is assigned a mentor who will accompany provide guidance during the program.

During Frankfurter Buchmesse, the cash-award-winning startup is chosen in a pitching session.

The accelerator is funded again this year by companies in the book and media industries, with each sending a representative to sit on the jury.

This year’s jury:

  • Carmen Udina (Friedrich Oetinger Publishers)
  • Sabine Haag (Wiley-VCH)
  • Nina Hugendubel (Hugendubel)
  • Per Dalheimer (Hugendubel Digital)
  • Leif Göritz (Thalia)
  • Olaf Carstens (Cornelsen)
  • Detlef Büttner (Lehmanns Media)
  • Ronald Schild (MVB)

Carmen Udina

In a prepared comment, Oetinger’s Udina, as jury spokesperson, is quoted, saying, ““Our six finalists reflect the impressively wide scope of today’s content sector.

“This year’s business models range from artificial-intelligence (AI) relevant applications to innovations in craftsmanship involving both analogue and digital approaches.

“What all of the six startups have in common is that they provide us with new perspectives on established workflows and processes. One finalist gives us insight into the more efficient data processing of texts, while another shows us the opportunities to foster reading among children with and without visual impairments using tactile feedback.

“We were not able to experience the pitches live this year, but instead via digital means. This in no way diminished our enthusiasm. For all of us on the jury, it was a great pleasure to have the opportunity to ask the startups further questions about their ideas, to delve more deeply into their subject matter, and to get a real feel for their visions.”

The ContentShift effort stands with the Börsenvereinsgruppe’s Eisbrecher Events (icebreakers) in programming to cultivate new business models and innovation.

Notes on the Coronavirus’ Impact

At this writing, the 7:37 a.m. ET update (1137 GMT) of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reports that Germany has 193,291 confirmed infections and 8,936 deaths in a population of 83 million.

In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the BBC reports, German authorities have reimposed lockdown on some 500,000 citizens in the area of a meat packing plant that has had more than 1,500 workers test positive for COVID-19.

The British numbers from the same update: 308,337 cases and 43,165 deaths in a population of 67 million.

Adam Bienkov at Business Insider reports this morning that Ireland now will quarantine British travelers because of the United Kingdom’s “significantly poorer” response to the contagion.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the ContentShift program is here. More from us on the German market is hereand more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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