The founders of Leftshift One: CEO Patrick Ratheiser and CTO Christian Weber (from the left)
Photo: Luef

Leftshift One: “Munich Offers Startups and High-Tech Companies an Extremely Attractive Environment”

Leftshift One from Graz in Styria has developed an AI operating system that takes account of ethical criteria when making decisions. The Austrian startup is currently opening an office in Munich, which is also their first branch abroad. One of the topics we spoke with the founders about was why they chose Munich.

Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do? Please introduce yourselves!

Leftshift One: We developed Europe’s first operating system for artificial intelligence that respects data protection and ethics. Our AIOS (which stands for Artificial Intelligence Operating System) is a technical development environment in which different applications – so-called “skills” – run. They make it possible, for example, to automatically interpret texts, to create text from speech, to edit images and to precisely analyze data. However, it’s not only skills from in-house development that run on the operating system, but also complex “AI” skills from certified third-party providers.

Leftshift One was founded by CEO Patrick Ratheiser and CTO Christian Weber. We currently employee a team of roughly 40 people in two locations, at our headquarters in Graz, and now in Munich. The US magazine Forbes recently selected us as one of the 30 most promising young companies in the German-speaking region in the field of artificial intelligence. The international investment club Eqventure and ARM founder Hermann Hauser are among our investors.

CEO Patrick Ratheiser studied business administration and computer science in Graz. After holding positions as a software developer, he worked as a project and engagement manager at different companies in the fields of telecommunication and big data. CTO Christian Weber, born in 1990, is already considered one of the Europe’s AI pioneers: That is based on his work as a software developer and IT project manager at an international corporation. Weber studied business information technology.

Munich Startup: What problem does your company solve?

Leftshift One: With our AIOS, it’s possible to assign and aggregate job applications 1,800 times faster than a person could. This example demonstrates that the skills of our AIOS replace routine tasks – which gives companies the leeway and capacity for new developments. What’s significant is that our AIOS provides European security standards – which can be “on premise” if necessary, meaning in your own infrastructure. The concept with job applications can be transferred to many other industries: Offers, requests or even photos for quality control can be automatically processed with our skills.

Leftshift One: “There is definitely a certain cultural proximity between Munich and Austria”

Munich Startup: You recently opened your first location abroad with your Munich office. Why did you choose Munich?

Leftshift One: The economic region of Munich offers an extremely attractive environment for startups and high-tech companies. The many different branches of the economy – from the automotive sector to mechanical engineering, electrical and medical engineering and a flourishing software and finance sector – demonstrate the city’s high level of innovative strength, which, as is well known, is also reflected by the multitude of DAX companies that are located here. We strongly believe that our AI operating system, which can be used across industries, can fill a technological niche in the Munich ecosystem.

Munich Startup: Did a certain cultural proximity perhaps also tip the balance in favor of Munich?

Leftshift One: There’s a reason that Bavaria is considered Austria’s tenth state: There is definitely a certain cultural proximity between Munich and Austria – and perhaps most particularly in Styria. But it’s not just dirndls, lederhosen and specific traditions that connect the two states – it’s also the innovation: Styria – similar to Bavaria – with a research and development rate above five percent, is one of the most innovative regions in the EU.

Munich Startup: What else do you have planned?

Leftshift One: For the future, we already have groundbreaking innovations on the agenda: For example, it’s already possible to access applications from third-party providers via the AIOS. This allows customers to easily integrate existing AI concepts, and that we address the whole world of artificial intelligence in one operation system. Always adhering to the credo of improving people’s lives – in the symbiosis between man and machine. In the medium term, we want to become the market leader in Europe with this concept driven by data protection and ethics. To achieve that, we’re working in close collaboration with high-tech partners and are investing roughly a third of our development efforts in research.