Highlights of start-up year 2021

Hamburg's start-up scene presents success stories
23 December 2021

Start-ups are well able to overcome challenges which were not scarce this year. Being able to react flexibly and innovatively to difficult situations gives many a company an edge over rivals. Many Hamburg-based start-ups were among the winners this year. The following are just some of this year’s success stories.

Record financing round

Founders are always keen on investments. And Taxdoo came up trumps after raising a record EUR 57 million in December based on its tax software. Exporo followed with EUR 16 million, Tomorrow with EUR 14 million and HAUSGOLD with EUR 10 million all of which operate in the financial services. Localyzed, one of the few start-ups founded by women, raised around EUR 10.5 million. The start-up helps employers attract foreign professionals.

Founders of Taxdoo
© Taxdoo
Founders of Taxdoo
Founders of Traceless
© Traceless
Johanna Baare and Dr Anne Lamp

Rising stars 

Founded in late 2020 by Dr. Anne Lamp and Johanna Baare, Traceless made headlines with its compostable plastic substitute after securing its first investment of millions in May. An exclusive partnership with OTTO followed in September and further millions from the European Innovation Council in October. Traceless topped it off in November with first prize in the Darboven IDEE-Förderpreis for female founders.

Award winners of 2021

Traceless also came second in the Future Hamburg Awardbut was outdone by the Hamburg-based Breeze. The start-up took first prize for its air quality technology. Other prestigious wins were secured by Plancraft at the Gunnar-Uldall-Wirtschaftspreis, as well as drone developer Beagle Systems and spice start-up Ankerkraut at the Hamburger Gründerpreis while Karl-Heinz Hebrok, a packaging manufacturer, accepted the lifetime achievement award. 

Founder Prize 2021
© Romanus Fuhrmann
Winners of Founder Prize 2021
About You goes public
© About You
Hamburg's first unicorn: About You

IPO of 2021

Tarek Müller, founder of ABOUT YOU, has long since become a role model for Hamburg’s start-up scene. Hopes are now high after the company ventured the long-awaited IPO on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. An initially promising share price had dipped below the initial value by late December on the heels of a generally poor mood in the industry. However, the long-term prospects are positive, experts say.  

Hotspot of the year

The history of Hammerbrooklyn has not been without complications. Time and again, the flagship project has been caught in the crossfire of business and politics. Then, in February, Factory Berlin took over the reins. The building, which is modelled on the U.S. pavilion at the 2015 World Expo, opened in May and is set to become a hotspot of Hamburg's creative and digital scene. Factory Hammerbrooklyn, located in the same-named suburb, is due for completion in 2022. Factory Berlin has been the meeting place of the capital’s start-up scene since 2014 with its vast international network. 


© Julia Schwendner
Factory Hammerbrooklyn

Startup-Unit Hamburg 

Hamburg Invest's Startup-Unit is the main point of contact for potential entrepreneurs and founders focusing on knowledge and technology-oriented business models. If offers a wealth of information about offers for start-ups, financing as well as important events and networks in Hamburg. The Startup Unit backed several promising founders through networking events, co-operation projects, webinars and trade fair appearances this year.