Berlin was the second stop on this year’s Innovation Weekend world tour, and took place on July 7th 2016. Earlier in the visit to Germany, the Innovation Weekend team visited Munich to host the first Tokyo Munich FinTech Symposium to examine the similarities and differences of FinTech innovation in each city.

As this trip marked the second visit to Germany for Innovation Weekend, with the first time only stopping in Berlin, the differences between Munich and Berlin as cities were quickly identified. Each unique and beautiful in their own right, Berlin is more receptive to innovation and interesting as a startup hub while Munich seems to be a better place for startups and large corporations to work together.

Leading up to the date of Innovation Weekend Berlin it was soon realized that it coincided with the semi-final match of the Euro 2016 soccer tournament. Germany was playing France. The nation was captivated. Due to the massive interest in the game, the schedule of Innovation Weekend Berlin needed to be adjusted to allow for a public viewing of the game to be streamed at the venue.

On the day of, Innovation Weekend went off without a hitch. The event was hosted at the office of INFARM. INFARM is an innovative vertical farming startup who was the winner of Innovation Weekend Berlin in 2015 and who went on to win the 2015 Grand Finale. In addition to a research facility and factory, their office serves as a beautiful event space.

Ikuo Hiraishi, kicked off this year’s Innovation Weekend Berlin with a detailed overview of the current startup and venture ecosystem in Japan. Next, Erez Golanski, CEO of INFARM, provided the audiences and startups about to pitch with a description of his experiences participating in and winning Innovation Weekend in 2015.

The startup field in Berlin was strong and well representative of the cities eclectic, diverse and innovative atmosphere. Among the ten companies that pitched, three were selected to travel to Japan later this year to share their companies. The winner of Innovation Weekend Berlin was Conichi, a hotel application that utilizes beacon technology for seamless check in and access, with CEO Maximilian Waldman who delivered the pitch. The runner up of Innovation Weekend Berlin was OptioPay, an online payment platform which increases payments by offering higher-value gift cards as a payment method, with CEO Oliver Neumann delivering the pitch. One additional startup, Mimi, was awarded the Hack Osaka Award and a chance to participate in 2017’s Hack Osaka conference in Osaka Japan. Mimi, led by CEO Bernd Kopin, allows users to create a personal earprint to better hear music through their proprietary technology.

Upon the conclusion of Innovation Weekend Berlin, the Euro Cup 2016 was streamed at INFARM’s office. Everyone enjoyed great food, innovation and a close match. We will be sure to come back in 2017.