10 promising Cologne-based startups to follow in 2021 and beyond

At the beginning of the year we hunted down 10 exceptionally promising German startups to watch in 2021, and, in case you missed it, more recently we covered 10 super promising startups both from Düsseldorf and Frankfurt. Today, we’re shifting the focus to Cologne. 

The German city is known for its cathedral, the largest Gothic church in northern Europe, a walk along the Rhine River, and, more importantly for us today, it recently made it into our annual ranking of Europe’s biggest startup hubs.

For this article, we’ve scouted exceptionally promising early-stage startups based in Cologne, founded between 2018 and 2021, taking into consideration team size, funding, growth rate, innovation, and market size. Here are the 10 Cologne-based startups to watch in 2021 and beyond:

VYTAL aims to establish a digital reusable system that finally offers every person, restaurateur, supermarket, and delivery service an affordable and sustainable alternative to disposable and plastic waste. Born in 2019, the startup has raised over €2 million to operate a digital and deposit-free reusable system with high-quality, leak-proof food packaging. Customers can borrow freshly washed bowls from each partner and bring them back. With reminders, incentives, gamification, and promotions, users are motivated to regularly use and return the bowl in order to maximize the economic and ecological added value of the system.

Sunvigo offers a solar system for free combined with a flexible electricity contract, meaning customers only pay for what they use. Sunvigo provides solar power from customers’ roofs and certified green power from the grid. That means full supply to 100% from renewable energies and with only one contractual partner. Sunvigo aims to simplify access to 100% emission-free and renewable energy and give everyone the opportunity to advance the goal of a sustainable world. Founded last year, the startup has raised more than €3.5 million. They’re also working on further expansion stages such as in sustainable heat and electricity storage.

Founded last year, _blaenk is a hybrid marketplace for urban lifestyle products offering a holistic online and offline experience. Consumers are offered personalized, experience-oriented shopping. The focus is on high-quality lifestyle products that stand out through special features such as innovative character, longevity, or sustainability, ranging from fashion to food to technology. Brands can book flexibly in the _blaenk omnichannel marketplace via “Retail as a Service”, and are offered a modular system of stationary placement, shop fitting and personnel, marketing activities, payment processing, and fulfillment.

buynomics is a next-generation SaaS for pricing and product optimization. buynomics employs large-scale simulation technologies to digitize customers and predict their purchase behavior in any environment. Companies use buynomics to make data-driven decisions about their current and new products, overall portfolio structure, pricing, promotions, trade terms, and more. Founded in 2018, the startup has raised about €2.2 million to achieve over 95% forecast accuracy and help customers see up to 70% higher profitability compared to the status quo.

Sastrify is a virtual SaaS procurement service, helping finance and tech teams to optimize the management and cost of SaaS tools in digital-first companies. They aim to bring transparency, centralize procurement, provide companies with a clear overview of applications and licenses, and negotiate with their suppliers to get the best deals. Born in 2020, the startup has raised over €1.1 million for its mission to help businesses reduce their SaaS spend. Sastrify saves companies the valuable time they would otherwise have to spend in vendor calls and negotiations.

CheMondis is a B2B marketplace for chemicals, connecting buyers and suppliers from the chemical industry. Founded in 2018, CheMondis aims to create a global professional network to provide information and new business opportunities by combining customer centricity with tech and chem know-how. Buyers have access to a precise product search by filtering the preferred incoterm, packaging type, or delivery country, and compare different offers. Suppliers can acquire new customers, and reduce the order processing time by getting complete and real-time customer and order information directly into their ERP.

how.fm is a training and performance support platform for manual operations, transforming how manual workers are onboarded, trained, and upskilled. Founded in 2018, the startup has raised nearly €2.4 million to provide high-volume training solutions for workers speaking any language based on easily documented and updated standards across sites. how.fm is primarily empowering the multinational deskless workforce in warehouse operations and production lines across the world. Using how.fm’s digital coach, businesses can save time and money, increasing productivity and empowering employees in a more efficient way.

Founded in 2019, Lumoview develops an analysis technology intended to simplify building analysis. The startup provides super-fast building analyses through an easy-to-use system to empower owners and managers to digitize their buildings and optimize the energy efficiency of their buildings. Their measurement systems offer visual documentation, floor plan, wall temperature distribution, and thermal bridge identification, allowing clients to identify and prioritize the parts of buildings that need refurbishment as well as improve energy efficiency.

ONIQ offers Process Mining and Process Analytics software for production and operations processes in various industries. Born in 2020, their platform, IQ/A, supports customers in continuously analyzing and optimizing production processes and adjacent value-added areas. Based on process mining, IQ/A creates transparency around the real production process and identifies hidden process inefficiencies. In combination with artificial intelligence, especially machine learning, IQ/A gets to the bottom of production processes by detecting root causes. ONIQ also aims to reduce the production’s carbon footprint.

Neutron Star Systems is on a mission to enable the next generation of spaceflight capabilities and inspire humanity for generations to come. Founded in 2019, the startup develops disruptive and robust electric propulsion (EP) systems and subsystems based on superconductor technology. This space electric propulsion technology is suitable for three main markets: Automated Transfer Vehicles for spacecraft servicing, lunar transportation, and Mars cargo missions. This technology can generate significantly stronger magnetic fields with much lower power consumption, lower mass, and more compact design.

By the way: If you’re a corporate or investor looking for exciting startups in a specific market for a potential investment or acquisition, check out our Startup Sourcing Service!