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Videos, Dating and AI 21.06.2024

It’s that time again: the jury has nominated ten outstanding startups – this year with very different approaches – to participate in the 2024 CONTENTshift accelerator.

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It’s quite an impressive feat: not only did we once again receive submissions from a large number of startups (36 to be exact), these applicants also came from vastly different countries, including the Netherlands, South Africa and Rwanda. After reviewing each application from this diverse group, the jury selected ten finalists who will now go on to compete for the coveted five spots in the coaching and mentoring programme.

An overview of the nominees

One of the key problems facing the creative industries today (and something the CONTENTshift team has been working tirelessly to overcome) is the conundrum whereby content creators have limited economic means at their disposal, while financially strong investors lack the information to invest in a targeted manner. The startup known as ClipStake is eager to tackle this problem and build bridges in the realm of videos: their platform makes it possible for investors to support their favourite YouTubers by purchasing tokens, which then gives video-makers more freedom to develop their creative vision. Both sides benefit from this approach in that investors receive a percentage of the video creators’ success – it’s a perfect win-win situation!

The team at Dskrpt has come up with a solution to a different problem: this digital writing and learning platform is aimed at teachers and students active in text-based subjects such as law. Professors can use the app to create lecture materials, while students can then read these materials, discuss them with others and, in doing so, absorb the content in a much easier way. The idea is to make it possible for students to access lecture scripts, but also legal texts and judgments, and to be able to share notes with others. The startup is based at Hamburg’s Bucerius Law School and is still very new; at the moment, it’s in a closed beta phase that’s being tested at select universities. 

Vienna-based equalizent also focuses on education – in particular on German and Austrian sign language. The platform connects e-books to its own database, which then provides explanations and translations. At present, the platform offers more than 10,000 terms. This helps with the translation of digital books into sign language; when users tap on a word, a video opens showing the corresponding term. As many deaf people find reading challenging, the platform conveys content in a straightforward and low-threshold manner.

Books made interactive: Gamebook Interactive Books Platform is designed in equal measure for authors, publishers, agencies and bloggers. Gamebook provides its services along the entire digital production chain of books, including appraisal and monetisation, but also preparing them to be even more attractive to young and game-savvy audiences. For example, they transform books into interactive adventures that allow readers themselves to become heroes. Thanks to AI-based instant translation, the platform also enables books to transcend international barriers. In other words, this startup gives us a glimpse into the future of books and perhaps even the entire book industry!

It’s a well-known fact that sex education in schools is often not as good as it could be. Equally well-known is the fact that kids are in urgent need of high-quality sex education that can help them learn early-on how to set their own borders and accept others’ boundaries, but also how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and avoid getting infected with diseases. This is where KNOWBODY can help. It’s an app intended for use by children starting from the 6th grade and features learning units covering subjects like sexuality, bodies and relationships. The app is based on the sex-ed guidelines issued by Germany’s Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the ministries of education in each respective German state. The content of the app is conveyed using games, videos, audio clips and a separate handbook.

For many people, it’s a dream come true: newspaper articles from global daily newspapers, all bundled in one app. Kompreno makes it possible. Readers can use the app to access over 10,000 AI-translated texts from 14 European countries, thus gaining a well-founded overview of events from a multiplicity of voices. Speed is not the priority here: instead, it’s all about gaining fact-based knowledge by drawing on the expertise of 30 different media houses. In Germany, DIE ZEIT and brand eins are two of the highly respected papers involved in the app, which fulfils the need of readers to be able to consume international reporting from a number of different voices.

Publish your work in several different languages with no unnecessary detours: Booknet is not a self-publisher but rather a network of self-publishing platforms. In other words, it has several million users per month and offers authors simple publishing opportunities, including – thanks to AI translations – worldwide distribution. All of this is possible even before a novel is finished: authors can sell drafts or publish them one chapter at a time. They can even earn money while they’re still writing thanks to the subscriber system – and they might even find themselves inspired by readers’ feedback.

The relationship app myndpaar aims to revolutionise psychotherapy and, in particular, couples counselling. Psychologist Ulrich Wilken and his daughter Leonie Wilken joined forces to launch the app, basing it on a standardised approach to treating each individual couple. Drawing on a wealth of over 10,000 real-life therapeutic cases, the father-daughter duo created an “AI companion” that can accompany couples through all phases of life. myndpaar claims to have already helped several thousand couples, 94% of whom said they experienced an improvement in their relationship. Wow! 

Qualitative data analysis made easy with QInsights, a software tool from Queludra. Unlike conventional generative AI, this tool isn’t focussed on general, context-free knowledge; instead, it’s looking to achieve a depth of understanding and precision. The almost entirely intuitive AI filters content according to users’ wishes, which makes it possible, for example, to exclude AI-related biases. The tool can also link results with theoretical foundations by integrating context-related pillars, i.e. information such as goals, details on participants and more. The advantage: by automating the initial phases, researchers are able to concentrate entirely their interpretation of the results.

Who doesn’t remember those play mats we used to romp around on as children? Tapari combines these traditional play mats with audio adventure stories, all designed to foster the cognitive development, decision-making capacities, creativity and motor skills of children aged three to eight. How does it work? The play mat functions as an interactive play surface with several stations where children can actively influence the course of the story, each in keeping with the motto of the startup: “The best graphics card is your own imagination”. 

What happens next

At a pitch event on 19 June in Frankfurt, these ten startups will present their innovative ideas to the jury, who will then choose a final group of five to participate in the coaching and mentoring programme. The five finalists will be given access to a network of high-ranking industry experts and also take part in coaching sessions tailored to their needs. On 17 October at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the winning startup will be chosen and awarded the €10,000 funding prize.

The accelerator receives support from companies active in the book industry and media sector, with each sending representatives to act as members of the CONTENTshift jury. The members of the 2024 jury are the following: Martina Fiddrich and Olaf Carstens (Cornelsen Verlag), Carla Scheunemann and Jonas Konrad (Community Editions/Bastei Lübbe), Alexander Woge (KNK Customer Engagement), Stefanie Penck (TeNeues Verlag), Nina Hugendubel and Per Dalheimer (Buchhandlung Hugendubel), Leif Göritz and Detlef Büttner (Lehmanns Media/Buchhandlung Thalia), Philipp Lindinger (Herder Verlag), Ronald Schild (MVB) as well as Lennart Schneider, an independent strategic advisor and external partner to the programme. The accelerator is also accompanied by Harald Henzler (International University SDI München) and Okke Schlüter (Hochschule der Medien Stuttgart/University of Applied SCiences Stuttgart) in an advisory capacity.

Text: Isabella A. Caldart

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