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Research on AI Ventures & Growth in Collaboration with K.I.E.Z.

While there is much known about how "traditional" digital ventures grow - how do we scale AI-based ventures?

Our goal is to better understand what distinguishes AI ventures and which mechanisms enable accelerated scalability from an entrepreneurial perspective.


Workshop on AI Venturing

Workshop on AI Venturing


To get closer to this goal, we continuously conduct interviews and surveys in a scientific framework with founders, decision makers and investors who have gained experience with AI ventures. 

The rapid emergence of ventures based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) calls for investigating to what extent known IS concepts translate to AI based ventures. Recent studies assume that AI ventures scale differently compared to digital ventures. This may be due to a different set of processes, technology and talent needs. Therefore, we investigate what scaling challenges AI ventures face and how AI ventures organize digital and human resources for scaling. To do so, we carry out a diverse set of studies, with a strategic framework for building scalable AI ventures as its final outcome. Besides being publicly accessible, the framework will be applied in the offers of the initiative Artificial Intelligence Entrepreneurship Center (K.I.E.Z.) by the Berlin University Alliance, with the goal to support AI startups in their development and growth.

Practical Contribution: 
To contribute to decision makers in practice the findings of my research will inspire the development of a set of tools which support decision makers in AI ventures as well as other stakeholders, such as innovation intermediaries working of AI ventures, in creating scalable AI products, AI business models and scaling strategies for the AI context. The tool set will consist of workshops, whitepapers and informative material. 

Theoretical Contribution: 
By creating data and insights about the scaling behavior of AI ventures I connect to the ongoing debate about the deployment of AI for value creation, as well as the discourse about growth and scaling in digital ventures, of which AI ventures form a subset.

We invite you to contribute to a better understanding of AI-based companies and help us strengthen the European ecosystem with this insight. Our findings will be published in conference and journal outlets. 

Recent Publications

Zebhauser, J., Rothe, H. & Sundermeier, J. (2022). Scaling AI Ventures: How to Navigate Tensions between Automation and Augmentation. Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), January 3-6, USA, Link.


Make an appointment with the research team:

We are happy to include you in our updates regarding our research, as well as winning you as interview partners. Interviews will take place in a digital setting. We pseudo- or anonymize personal data - companies and persons are not traceable for external parties. We will arrange the time according to your options. For the interview we schedule approx. 45 minutes.


Alternatively send us an email to jonathan.zebhauser@kiez.ai with the subject Interview and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Contact person:

Jonathan Zebhauser,
AI Innovation Manager at the Digital Entrepreneurship Hub,
FU Berlin / K.I.E.Z., Science & Startups.


Since May 2021, we are a excited to take part in Berlin’s new K.I.E.Z. – “Künstliche Intelligenz Entrepreneurship Zentrum”. This initiative is dedicated to incubating and accelerating AI ventures. We provide entrepreneurs in AI with scientific expertise, access to capital, industry partners and hiring talent. As project lead for Freie Universität Berlin, at DEH sets its full focus on helping AI ventures grow in order to make Berlin a leading ecosystem for innovations with Artificial Intelligence.


With the K.I.E.Z project, we build on our experience in mentoring and studying digital entrepreneurship. We explore the key factors of scaling AI startups using a design-oriented research paradigm. We can apply our insights directly to the incubation and acceleration of concrete startups in the incubation and acceleration programs at K.I.E.Z.

For us at the Digital Entrepreneurship Hub, the K.I.E.Z project is a great opportunity to drive innovation with potentially disruptive technology at Freie Universität Berlin and in close collaboration with Profund Innovation as well as the technology transfer institutions of Charité, Humboldt Innovation and the Centre for Entrepreneurship at TU Berlin.

K.I.E.Z. is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and complements the incubation services of all network partners.

The consortium project is led by the successful entrepreneur Tina Kluewer. In addition to our scouting tasks, we are responsible for gaining a new understanding of scaling AI companies and providing support measures for this.

Project duration:
05/2021 - 04/2025

Person of contact:
Prof. Dr. Janina Sundermeier (Freie Universität Berlin),
Prof. Dr. Hannes Rothe (Universität Dusiburg-Essen),
Jonathan Zebhauser (Freie Universität Berlin)

Project funding by Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action:
0.5M (FU Berlin), 6.85M (Konsortium)