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Ticket to the future 04.03.2024

No less than four new faces are set to join the expert jury at this year’s instalment of the competition organised by the Börsenvereinsgruppe. What exactly are the jury members expecting from the 2024 accelerator?


Winning isn’t everything, right? Still, when you put a lot of effort into competing and don’t win first prize, being told you should “be happy just to have participated” is often little consolation. Fortunately, things at the CONTENTshift accelerator are different. At this competition, it’s actually true that winning isn’t everything! Even if you don’t ultimately take home the top trophy, you will still have gained a tremendous amount. Indeed, simply being nominated to take part in the startup competition will already open doors to key investors and the book industry. 


The Börsenvereinsgruppe launched the CONTENTshift accelerator in 2016 with the aim of connecting up-and-coming entrepreneurs with established book-industry stalwarts. Since then, each group of young startups has brought fresh new ideas to the table and provided the impetus for longstanding companies to set out on new paths to the future. In return, the young entrepreneurs benefited from the know-how of industry insiders and promising collaborations.

Preisverleihung Frankfurter Buchmesse 2023

© Christof Jakob

Each year, dozens of startups from several countries (in 2023, it was 44) submit applications containing exciting and innovative ideas. Among recent CONTENTshift winners were the app GoLexic, which helps children and young people master reading and writing difficulties (2023), and the Immer.App, which fosters digital reading (2022). In 2021, the startups were so strong the jury chose two winners: Read-O, the book app used to track reading progress, and BotTalk, a text-to-speech solution.

“The winning startup receives an additional 10,000 euros in funding - but the contacts made are worth it for everyone.”

Carla Scheunemann und Jonas Konrad

“We hope to find inspiration for the development of business models.”

Carla Scheunemann


“The competition creates an absolute win-win situation.”

Jonas Konrad

This year, as soon as all applications have been received, ten startups will be chosen to present their ideas at a pitch event on 19 June 2024. A jury of high-ranking experts drawn from the book industry will pick five startups to take the next step, which involves participating in workshops, mentoring meetings and coaching sessions. 

Just by taking part, the five startups will be able to make important contacts and gather valuable experience. The final winning startup will also receive a €10,000 grant, but let’s face it, even if your idea doesn’t take home the big prize, your new industry contacts will already be priceless – for all sides. 

Breaking out of comfort zones 


No less than four new faces will be joining the expert jury this year:

  • Carla Scheunemann and Jonas Konrad, co-managing directors at Community Editions (Bastei Lübbe)

  • Philipp Lindinger, managing director at Herder Verlag

  • Alexander Woge, founder and CEO of knk Customer Engagement.

Jonas Konrad was quick to note that he’d always been envious of past jury members, explaining that “the CONTENTshift accelerator creates an absolute win-win situation where established companies are exposed to new and innovative business models while startups gain access to an entire network of potential partners and investors”.


Philipp Lindinger has a similar view: “The accelerator is an indispensable format that allows us to tackle two key challenges facing our industry: the need to break out of our comfort zone and to move away from our traditional silo thinking. In other words, we need to learn even more from others; not just other people, but also other industries”. 


Alexander Woge is also looking forward to his work on the jury. “I actually come from the newspaper and magazine sector, so I’m hoping to learn a lot and get a much better feel for the book industry”. Woge is eager to meet “exciting people with a different perspective on the industry”. 


For Carla Scheunemann, the exchange of ideas with young entrepreneurs is just as important as the interaction among jury members: “We hope to find inspiration for the development of new business models, to explore these new ideas and thus to be able to think differently and take new approaches”.


Philipp Lindinger provides some concrete examples: “Topics such as New Work, digital transformation and generative AI models will no doubt prompt some exciting discussions. I hope we’ll find new and inspiring approaches”. 


AI and other innovations


One characteristic of the CONTENTshift accelerator that is particularly appealing to all jurors is the idea of working with entrepreneurs from outside the industry who bring completely different knowledge to the table.


Philipp Lindinger

“We need to learn even more from others; not just other people, but also other industries”

Philipp Lindinger

Media expert Alexander Woge adds: "Some publishers shy away from the topic of artificial intelligence or don't want to deal with it until everything is settled. I think that's wrong."

Because only those who know what AI is and deal with it can assess what the future holds and how to take the best advantage of the technology for their own purposes. 


Alexander Woge

“Innovations are a glimpse into the future: we need them to survive.”

Alexander Woge

Participation alone is a small victory


One final question: What exactly does the buzzword “innovation” actually mean to the new jurors?


Jonas Konrad from Community Editions has an answer: “Innovation allows us to transform traditional business models, whether in an entirely disruptive manner or merely in parts. We believe there’s a need for this type of innovation in almost every segment of the book industry. For example, we still know far too little about readers and reader preferences, and we simply aren’t making use of all the opportunities available these days to find out”. 


For Alexander Woge, it’s all about the future, “which we’ll need in order to survive”. Herder boss Philipp Lindinger agrees. “Without innovation, it’s not possible to create new business models. And without new business models, we won’t be able to reach the younger generation. We’re therefore going to need sustainable organisational structures that focus exclusively on innovation projects”. 


Whether AI, digital development or entirely new ideas: from now until 1 May 2024, startups are invited to submit their ideas (and innovations, of course!) for the CONTENTshift accelerator. And don’t forget, just participating is a big win in itself. 

CONTENTshift accelerator 2024


Application:Startups have until 1 May 2024 to apply for the competition organised by the Börsenvereinsgruppe: Apply here!


Pitch event: After all submissions have been received and evaluated, ten startups will be selected to compete against one another at a pitch event on 19 June 2024. Based on these presentations, the jury will then choose five finalists.


Other jurors: (Click here for the short profiles): 

  • Martina Fiddrich / Olaf Carlsen (Cornelsen Verlag)

  • Nina Hugendubel / Per Dalheimer (Hugendubel)

  • Stefanie Penck (TeNeues Verlag)

  • Detlef Büttner (Fachbuchhandlung Lehmanns Media)

  • Leif Göritz (Buchhandlung Thalia)

  • Ronald Schild (MVB)

  • Lennart Schneider, first external juror (strategic consultant for subscription marketing, newsletters & community building, Subscribe Now Podcast, Industry Ally)

Coaching: The five finalists will then enjoy three months of coaching from industry experts Harald Henzler and Okke Schlüter. The finalists will also take part in a workshop in mid-September.


Grand finale: The winning startup will be chosen on 17 October 2024 at the Frankfurt Book Fair (grant of €10,000).


About the project: The CONTENTshift accelerator is an initiative of the Börsenvereinsgruppe and has been connecting the book industry with young entrepreneurs since 2016. In 2023, 44 startups applied to participate in the competition.


Project management: Department of Innovation and the Wholesale Book Trade Stefanie Perk ( 

Text: Isabella Caldart

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