Taxi app gets first prize in Hanover

The backers hope to help foster a more startup friendly culture in Europe

Intelligent Apps' myTaxi won €25,000 (US$33,000) plus two years of mentoring as the top prize among 50 contestants in CODE_n12 competition at the Cebit trade show.

CODE_n12 is the brainchild of the management at IT consulting company GFT, with the goal of fostering a more startup-friendly culture, according to CEO Ulrich Dietz.

The myTaxi applications, which are available for iOS and Android, connect people who are looking for a taxi with available drivers. Users can see where available taxis are and the drivers get passenger requests directly to their phones.

The jury was particularly impressed by the speed at which Intelligent Apps, a Hamburg-based startup, are changing the German taxi market, according to a statement. Today, over 8,000 drivers are taking orders through the myTaxi app across Germany, as well as in cities such as Vienna and Barcelona. But the strongest cities are Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, according to Intelligent Apps.

In total, CODE_n12 attracted more than 400 applicants from 42 countries. One third were from Germany, according to Dietz. From that pool of applicants, 50 were chosen to exhibit at the show and compete for the top prize.

The final top 10 applications also included Finnish company Transfluent, co-browsing service Synchronite and car sharing service DriveNow from Germany.

Transfluent offers a fully automated translation service for companies that want to make their Twitter and Facebook messages available in languages other than their own. The translation is done by a network of 15,000 professionals rather than machines, the company said.

The average time for a translated Twitter or Facebook message to arrive is 15 minutes at a cost of €0.14 per word.

Startups like Intelligent Apps and Transfluent are not less creative than those from the U.S., but Europe needs to become better at helping them become successful, according to Dietz.

"There has to be a much better startup culture," said Dietz.

Governments can open up innovation centers, help provide access to seed capital, and put in place tax systems that help new companies. Also, universities need to become better at teaching entrepreneurship. Today, there is big gulf between what is taught and what is needed in business, according to Dietz.

GFT is considering launching a CODE_n Lab and doing more networking activities within the CODE_n community. The doors will also be opened to companies that want to invest and participate in the initiative, according to GFT.

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