Bechtle: Strengthening the AI location Rostock with Planet AI

April 29, 2024. Bechtle AG is increasingly relying on the Rostock location as a hub for innovative AI applications from Planet AI, which are marketed throughout Europe by the entire Bechtle Group. The proximity to the University of Rostock, with which Planet AI has been working closely for years, plays an important role here. A cooperation agreement concluded in January 2020 forms the basis for joint application-oriented AI research, which is now to be further expanded. Both partners have already successfully carried out several joint projects in the field of AI deep learning funded by the EU and the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

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Jochen Schulte, State Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Tourism and Labour of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, also emphasizes the support for strengthening the location. He holds out the prospect of further funding. “The growth of Planet AI underlines our determination to strengthen the existing AI ecosystem in Rostock. Outstanding networking of university research and industrial application is already a reality here, supported by the ‘Center for Artificial Intelligence in MV’, among others. Together, we will continue to expand the digitization competencies of SMEs in order to promote economic success and innovation,” says Jochen Schulte, State Secretary for Economic Affairs.

Planet AI focuses on the development of AI-based solutions for intelligent document analysis and process automation. Bechtle has held a majority stake of 51 percent since October 2023. The aim is to combine application-oriented AI research with the sales strength of Germany’s largest IT system house. Both partners also aim to strengthen the AI ecosystem in Germany and Europe and play a leading role in future innovations.

“With Planet AI, we are now taking the next step and consistently developing the Rostock site into our central AI innovation hub. The framework conditions with the proximity to the university and the state’s commitment to our growth plans have encouraged us in this endeavor. Digital transformation is inconceivable without AI. We are clearly focusing on an ecosystem with a future here,” says Michael Guschlbauer, CEO IT System House & Managed Services, Bechtle AG.

Close cooperation with the university ensures young talent

Jesper Kleinjohann, CEO of Planet AI, came to Rostock as a student. The mathematician wrote his thesis on neural networks at Planet AI and is now regarded as a role model for excellent location retention, which opens up attractive, long-term career opportunities for students in application-oriented research. “The close cooperation with the CITlab at the University of Rostock has not only proven itself over the years in successful joint projects, but also in the recruitment of numerous top talents for our diverse and constantly growing team,” says Jesper Kleinjohann.  Planet AI employs almost 50 people, mainly in research and development – more than half of them are graduates of the University of Rostock.

AI ecosystem with hubs in Rostock and Heilbronn

Bechtle also combines its activities in Rostock with its membership of the Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence (Ipai) in Heilbronn, which is in the immediate vicinity of the Neckarsulm headquarters. Together with Planet AI, the company is involved in the European lighthouse project for artificial intelligence. With Ipai, a center for AI is being created with funding of up to 50 million euros from the state of Baden-Württemberg. The aim is to establish an innovation-promoting ecosystem in which different partners work together on future-oriented AI solutions. As part of the cooperation, for example, the AI-based application IDA (Intelligent Document Analysis) developed by Planet AI is to be made available as a demonstrator at Ipai.

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