Thomas Schröter: Opportunities and prospects for start-ups in the capital region


Berlin is the German centre for creative minds and entrepreneurs in the IT sector. The impressive dynamics of the sector is reflected in the number of IT start-ups. The ­sector developed its own hip culture which is quite unique compared to other sectors.

Berlin/Brandenburg. It is no longer a secret that Berlin attracts entrepreneurs in the IT sector and the city has emerged as the strongest growing entrepreneurial hub in Germany.

The reasons are as diverse and manifold as the city itself. No other city in Germany provides entrepreneurs and start-ups in the IT sector such a scene and such excellent conditions for their own purposes and their developments as the melting pot Berlin. One reason for this is the historical development and the interwoven diversity of the city. Another reason for the attraction is the constant change of the city since reunification.

This is where stories are told. This is where success stories are written. Here, the opportunities that the city offers seem to be endless for young people thanks to many small and micro cultures and its unique and diverse lifestyle offering something for everyone. In Berlin they can experiment; they are allowed to, and in fact must, think creatively without any boundaries if they want to be make their way in the city. Berlin’s very special mix of poor and rich provides exactly the freedom to young people that they are seeking in order to be creative, to experiment, to exchange ideas, to jointly develop ideas and ultimately implement them.

Everything that makes up the start-up scene has grown on its own over the past years and it keeps attracting other talent to the “incubator Berlin”. Be it in tech communities, meet-ups, conferences, cafés, bars or restaurants – the “Silicon Valley on the Spree river” is the place where innovative young entrepreneurs and young creative minds get together or where they meet with investors or experienced company founders for business meetings or networking. The temporary work places and mobile offices, equipped with laptops and mobile phones, are now part of everyday life. Naturally, it is also a perfect position to head off to the city’s nightlife. Life in Berlin is colourful, international and still afford­able when it comes to commercial properties.

In addition, the capital region possesses an excellent university landscape, from which outstanding start-ups have evolved in the past and which offers creative and intelligent people a tremendous range of development opportunities for taking the first steps as a start-up.

As Berlin is the place to be with a growing international talent pool, the city also provides an important fertile ground for securing capital. An increasing number of major companies are focusing on the capital. Business angel activities, professionalised incubators – privately-­owned and institutional IT start-up centres provide the basis for the IT start-up landscape and the necessary flexibility that it requires to turn ideas into marketable products that can be made available to customers. Thanks to the growing commitment of corporate venture capital as incubators from major corporations, such as SAP, Google, Microsoft or Lufthansa, traditional venture capital companies or the diverse options available from public funding, the capital region opens its doors for financing young entrepreneurs while providing quick know-how transfer at the same time.

People moving to Berlin not only feel at home in a hurry, they are welcomed with open arms. Furthermore, they can incorporate the inspiration from the strongly in­­ter­­connected community as a kind of “free offer” into their ideas, projects and new business models. Free mem­­ber­ships in the business association of the IT economy in the capital region, SIBB e.V., for example, allow quick contacts and provide important tools for corporate management and company development, networking with companies in the same sector or interesting user industries.

Be it Kreuzberg, Mitte, Charlottenburg, Prenzlauer Berg or Adlershof – the city is so large that there will be plenty of space for new business ideas and the settlement of new, young companies over the next years and allow these hotspots to reinvent themselves or change.

But it is not only the start-up landscape that benefits from the start-up boom in the capital. Established companies also have excellent opportunities to discover young professionals. Those who are open to new business models and are prepared to immerse themselves into this con­­temporary world are quite likely to benefit from a profitable know-how transfer. There is huge untapped growth potential in the area of internalisation of companies – be it from or in the capital region, not the least thanks to the strong “Berlin Partner” network and diverse networking opportunities. This is also an en­­cour­­agement for everyone who can present corresponding business ideas.

But despite all the euphoria, an important fact remains that Berlin needs to continuously foster the opportunities that result from the settlement activities of this motivated and young start-up generation and further boost its attractiveness. In this context, it is important that the new airport is completed as soon as possible, as it is a driver for further internationalisation. Berlin needs affordable living space to preserve its historically rooted charm. Everyone, including those who come from abroad, should be able to settle here as quickly and easily as possible – no matter if they start a business, want to study here or are highly qualified professionals. It is important to equip the supporting units – talents and, for example, the professorial landscape at the universities – with the required tools. The associated pulling effect will ultimately benefit the entire capital region.

8489-DruckThomas Schröter
Thomas Schröter, a founder and a managing partner of software companies in his earlier days, is now the Managing Director of the förderbar GmbH, a funding consultancy specialised in the IT sector and digital economy. Thomas Schröter has been the Chairman of the Board of the IT industry association SIBB e.V. in the capital region since 2014.