The German Autonomous Driving Startup Landscape
We at UVC Partners recently teamed up with appliedAI — the Initiative for Applied Artificial Intelligence — and the Digital Hub Mobility to examine the German autonomous driving startup landscape. We’ve identified over 70 startups by using data sources such as Crunchbase and Tracxn, and own research.
Our methodology separates the autonomous driving landscape in two main categories: “Autonomous Driving System Startups” and “Ecosystem Startups”. The former category encompasses startups that directly enable semi or fully autonomous vehicles while the latter entails startups working on customer applications and supporting mobility infrastructure solutions. Moreover, the following subcategories were used:
Data & Simulation: Image annotation and segmentation, training data-as-a-service and simulation tools provide the data needed to train self-driving systems. The more data and the more different driving situations available, the safer the autonomous vehicle will be.
Sensing: Sensors help the vehicle to perceive its surrounding and thus to navigate safely in it. Autonomous vehicles are equipped with a range of sensors such as radar, LiDAR (light detection and ranging), ultrasound and cameras.
ADAS: Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) aim at augmenting the driver’s capabilities to improve safety and increase driving comfort. Typical features include automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warnings. Some auto OEMs see advancements in ADAS technology as a gradual path toward fully autonomous driving.
Localization & Mapping: High-definition maps are a crucial ingredient for autonomous driving as vehicles need to localize themselves with very high accuracy. These machine-readable maps come with additional information such as lane sizes, intersections and crosswalks.
Communication: To detect objects outside of a vehicle’s field of view as captured by on-board sensors, advanced communication technology is needed. Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) functionalities enable autonomous vehicles to communicate with their environment such as with other vehicles (V2V) or roadside infrastructure (V2I).
Full vehicles: Companies in this category aim at building fully autonomous vehicles from the ground up and sometimes that even includes reinventing the vehicle body itself. While fully autonomous vehicles for the transportation of people are still a few years away, they have established itself in areas like mining and construction.
The 71 startups in focus raised over € 180 million in venture capital funding to date. Most of the funding was raised by ecosystem startups (€ 125 million) while autonomous driving startups raised a meager € 55 million. Overall, it seems that the German autonomous driving startup ecosystem is just starting to evolve as a lot of the startups were founded less than 18 months ago.
After having invested in mobility startups such as Blickfeld, FAZUA, Flixbus, Free2Move, TWAICE Technologies and Vimcar, we at UVC Partners remain excited about the mobility space and especially about autonomous driving. We believe there are exciting opportunities in areas such as cyber-physical systems for autonomous vehicles, localization & mapping, V2X communication & data transmission, machine vision solutions and full-stack autonomous driving systems. Thus, if you are a founder working in the mobility space, and in particular in the autonomous driving space, we would love to hear from you.
Disclaimer: UVC Partners is an investor in Blickfeld, Free2Move, TWAICE Technologies and Vimcar.
About UVC Partners
Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners (UVC Partners) is a Munich-based early-stage venture capital firm that invests in technology-based startups in the areas of industrial technologies, enterprise software and mobility. The fund typically invests between € 0.5–3m initially and up to € 12m in total per company.
Portfolio companies benefit from the extensive investment and exit experience of the management team as well as from the close cooperation with UnternehmerTUM, Europe’s leading innovation and business creation center. With over 180 employees and more than 100 industry partners, UnternehmerTUM can draw from many years of experience in establishing young companies. This cooperation enables UVC Partners to offer startups unique access to talent, industry customers, and other financial partners. The portfolio includes investments such as FlixBus, Carjump (Free2Move), KONUX, Blickfeld, 3YOURMIND and Vimcar.
The appliedAI Initiative, Europe’s largest non-profit initiative for the application of artificial intelligence technology, aims to bring Germany into the AI age and offers its wide ecosystem of established companies, both large and small, researchers, and startups neutral ground in which to learn about AI, implement the technology, and connect with each other. NVIDIA, Google, Allianz, Porsche Consulting, and many more are founding partners of the initiative, which started in early 2018.
About Digital Hub Mobility
The Digital Hub Mobility is part of the Germany-wide Digital Hub Initiative, launched by the country’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. At twelve interconnected locations, established companies work together with innovation partners from the scientific world and the startup scene. The Digital Hub Mobility is located at the UnternehmerTUM and makes use of this unique ecosystem to create the digital mobility innovations of the future.