27. April 2020

Turning wonder into meteorological intelligence

Adlershof start-up MeteoIQ prepares weather forecasts as a basis for business decisions

MeteoIQ © WISTA Management GmbH
The MeteoIQ founders Jan Hoffmann, Evelyn Müller and Dennis Schulze (from left to right) have the weather in their sights. Picture: © WISTA Management GmbH

At MeteoIQ, the name says it all: the three founders have specialised on the smart use and useful preparation of weather data for customers from the insurance, construction, and energy sector. The Adlershof-based company aims at making weather risks more predictable.

The origin of this founding story hails back to the 1978/79 winter. Then, a blizzard swept over Germany from the north and buried villages under snowdrifts several metres high. What was named a ‘six-day war against the snow’ by the media deeply fascinated Dennis Schulze and Evelyn Müller. Usually treated with some neglect, the weather now held a whole country hostage. Both later turned this fascination into a career.

They became entrepreneurs in late-2019. Together with Jan Hoffmann, who, as a lad growing up in the Black Forest, often watched the thunderstorms and later hunted tornados in the States, they form the management of the Adlershof-based MeteoIQ GmbH. ‘We humans like to think that we’re in control. But this is far from the truth,’ says Müller. Extreme weather and an insidious climate change create risks. Managing those risks requires meteorological intelligence and quality-assured weather forecasting. This is where MeteroIQ come in: the founders aim at making weather risk management more efficient by verifying forecasts from governments and private weather companies. By providing their customers with reports and consulting, they help them to create more precise forecasting systems, better calculated insurance policies, and, lastly, smoother claims settlement following extreme weather events.

The entrepreneurial trio built this meteorological know-how across various career stints spanning two decades. Meteorology is based on complex physical and mathematical models, which are now visualised using software. Weather companies calculate their forecasts using data produced by a closely-knit network of weather stations. The three founders are deeply familiar with these structures. Schule and Müller worked at the MeteoGroup for many years – he was an executive for meteorological services, she was a researcher in quality control. With his own company, Geomatix, Hoffmann specialised on translating meteorological knowledge into software: ‘Our key areas were weather radars, data visualisation, statistical forecasting as well as weather warning systems,’ he says. The founders have one thing in common: ‘Our aim is to translate the complicated realm of numbers and physics into easy-to-use products and added value for our customers,’ says Müller. Their services range from expert reports to ‘bite-sized’ data processing for weather apps.

The start-up’s products also include independent analysis of forecasting quality. By doing so, the founders provide their customers with reference points for choosing a weather forecast provider and a price model based on their needs. Energy suppliers, for example, who use weather forecasts to manage production, rely on other time ranges and forecasting quality than, say, insurance companies which calculate schemes for several years and require as much data as possible on weather risks and loss probabilities. The start-up founders make quality measurable and enable their customers to access to historical weather data. Additionally, they are capable, for example, after severe weather such as hailstorms, to determine where damage has occurred at the address-level. ‘Hailstorms usually follow very narrow routes that can be traced with great precision,’ Müller explains. With highly accurate findings at their disposal, insurance companies can process claims notifications faster – even automated, in many cases.

‘Verification is important and sought-after in many ways,’ says Schulze. MeteroIQ has the necessary expertise and the benefit of not starting out with nothing. Since their former employer MeteroGroup did no cater for their niche, the three founders were able to take a loyal group of customers with them as well as access to software and data from over 900 professional weather stations. ‘We hit the ground running and plan on moving to the fast lane,’ he says. In view of climate change and the associated medical and biological risks, MeteoIQ say they are open for partnerships and for pooling know-how from various disciplines. In plenty more ways than the networking aspect, of this the founders are sure, Adlershof is a great location to do so.

By Peter Trechow for Adlershof Journal