Brandenburg is a founder state and provides extensive help for people who want to become self-employed. By now, in Brandenburg the percentage of entrepreneurs and freelance professionals has climbed to 12.3 per cent, with that the state is above the national average of eleven per cent. Brandenburg offers – on many points together with the city of Berlin – multifaceted support for entrepreneurs from the initial business idea to the start of the company.
This includes in particular the ‘German Founders and Entrepreneurs Days’, deGUT (Deutsche Gründer- und Unternehmertage), an annual event on the last weekend in October. In 2010 the deGUT already took place for the 26th time. As the most important trade show for business creation and entrepreneurship in Germany, the deGUT (www.degut.de), commissioned by the Ministry for Economic and European Affairs of the state of Brandenburg and the Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Women’s Issues of the state of Berlin is organised by the Investment Bank Berlin (IBB) and the Investment Bank of the State of Brandenburg (ILB). Fortunately, in 2010 the trade show again posted a record attendance of visitors and exhibitors. More than 5,800 visitors gathered information on site at the Berlin Luckenwalder Street. Over 120 exhibitors, more than 30 consultants and deGUT representatives, such as Jochen Schweizer (Jochen Schweizer GmbH), Valerie Bönström (Mrs. Sporty) or Vural Öger (ÖGER Tours) offered solid advice to the visitors for two days and made intense contacts possible. Invited to deGUT were also the 16 winners of the national KfW founder champion competition (KfW is a promotional bank of Federal Republic of Germany and the federal states conducted on the state level), three national winners were selected. Amongst them was the HatiCon GmbH, based in the town of Schwedt, national KfW-founder champion 2010 in the category of “economically successful as service company”. HatiCon was founded in 2006 by Gido Genschorek and seven other colleagues. Patented systems out of aluminium and stainless steel for the mounting of photovoltaic systems are manufactured by the 650 employees of this company. The production ranges from pre-assembled frames for wholesalers to user specific solutions.
Another instrument to strengthen the founding idea is the Businessplan Competition Berlin-Brandenburg (the BPW, Businessplan-Wettbewerb Berlin-Brandenburg), which was launched 15 years ago. It takes place once a year and is intended to support potential founders in the development of their business concept. For this, a free and practical support programme (www.b-p-w.de) was developed. Under the umbrella of the BPW, numerous institutions, associations and companies are assembled to assist the founders with help and support. The BPW consists of three stages. During each stage coaching services are offered, contacts can be established, seminars attended and individual feedback of the jurors can be used advantageously. The requirements on the content and scope of the business plans increase from stage to stage until at the end of the third stage, a complete business concept has been developed out of the business idea. Those interested can enter at any stage up to each deadline into the competition, which also includes the disbursement of prize money.
The Internet website of the ‘Foundation network Brandenburg’ (Gründungsnetz Brandenburg/www.gruendungsnetz.brandenburg.de), offers comprehensive and clear information for the first steps to your own enterprise. Behind the founders network is a broad alliance of representatives of various ministries (ministries of economics, labour, science and education), the Brandenburg chambers of economics, the employment agency Berlin-Brandenburg, the Brandenburg universities and the Brandenburg Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (BIEM e.V.), the Brandenburg Economic Development Board (ZAB), Investment Bank Berlin (ILB), Guarantees Bank Brandenburg and the State Agency for Structure and Labour (LASA).
The activities of the alliance members are adapted to create transparency, to avoid duplication of activities and offers and to ensure short channels for the new entrepreneurs. The foundation network Brandenburg is intended to help increase the number of successful start-ups, to improve the entrepreneurial climate in Brandenburg and to more strongly exploit the start-up-business potential. Instruments of the founding initiative include the commonly shared information exchange, a coordinated public representation and the improvement of the general conditions for founders. The joint website is informative and is updated constantly.
The state of Brandenburg supports the universities with new and additional measures which are designed to improve the entrepreneurial environment at universities and transform business ideas into concrete economic activities. The promotion of the so-called location managers aims to improve the conditions for entrepreneurial independence at universities and to increase the number of technology-oriented and knowledge-based start-ups in Brandenburg. Founding and location managers at universities act as first point of contacts. They offer first and orientationinformation and communicate – in line with the goals of the individual business idea – tailor made to the different founder-consultants.
The projects BPW, deGUT, location management at the universities and the website of the foundation network Brandenburg are sponsored by the Ministry for Economic and European Affairs of the state of Brandenburg funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The author (born in 1956), holds a Masters Degree in social sciences, is married and has five children. Christoffers graduated from vocational training as boat builder as well as metal worker. Academic studies of social sciences followed at the Academy of the SED (Socialist Unity Party). Since 1994, he has been a member of the Parliament of Brandenburg, since November 2009, Minister of Economic and European Affairs of the state of Brandenburg.