How do you build a startup ecosystem in your region?
How to Build a Startup Ecosystem
In 2011, Udo Schloemer wanted to create a European Silicon Valley. He quickly realized that he had to solve a hen-egg problem:
What attracts the good people to a region?
In Berlin, there was already a great strength that made the city so attractive: what is important is not what happens between 9 and 17 clock, but what happens between 17 and 9 clock “. Berlin’s club scene has essentially driven the startup scene and the ecosystem has developed almost by itself. It just had to be sorted and organized with “courage and money”. Until 2 years ago, Udo was still sure to have to bring all the good people to Berlin in order to stand against China and the United States.
“Our strength in Germany is decentralization”
The business models that have made it in the US are rather trivial and for the mass market. The engineering DNA in Germany will take on more complex B2B business models.
Combining the strengths of SMEs and startups
“We have to make sure that the good people do not even have to leave attractive areas” Doro Bär had emphasized right at the beginning of the exchange. She also emphasized the importance of not just sitting in his own ecosystem bubble, but to think outside the box. Incidentally, she did not only refer to the Berlin startup scene.
In order for Germany to become a successful digital nation, we must not rest on our success as an industrial nation. For medium-sized companies, this also means expanding their position and seeking cooperation with start-ups. So can bsw. a market leadership as in automotive sensors, which are 50% of the world come from German manufacturers, continue. Because if there is one thing that is needed for machine learning in general and autonomous driving in particular, then that’s data from sensors.
But even you as Minister of State was clear: even if bad politics in the digital will not prevail in the long term, it can still be a drag on important innovations and necessary developments in the short term.
What makes Ostwestfalen-Lippe so good as a startup ecosystem?
One big advantage of an ecosystem like OWL was that Udo Schloemer said that you can always find your way and create something new.
And a great prejudice that could be cleared even further with the hinterland is that those in OWL always sit in the office, work and think. That party can be made just as much here as in Berlin, we have proven.
But especially for the industry, the OWL ecosystem is ideal: many strong international companies are located here, the bsw. missing in the Berlin environment. Especially the productive and innovative exchange below these companies is incredibly important because:
China no longer just copies, but even delivers great innovations
Something that more and more characterizes the East Westphalian middle class is the ability to go out and leave the company. Something like the Pioneers Club would have been unthinkable a few years ago: “We are not sitting in the same room with a competitor and watching each other as we work on a webshop. Today, this is quite commonplace in the PC” Dörrenberg described the digital reality in today’s OWL.
This closeness and the understanding to work together to strengthen one’s region is one of the easiest ways to get away from Silicon Valley, because of course, Engineers from Twitter and Facebook meet in a bar in the evening to discuss solutions and issues.
We need more investor culture
And not just in East Westphalia-Lippe, but throughout Germany and even at European level. Because:
The greatest innovations and most successful unicorns do us no good, if at the latest in the C-rounds with 3-digit million tickets only American and Chinese investors buy out the startups, the know-how and ultimately the return.
Both medium-sized family businesses and German pension funds have enough capital to invest the corresponding amount.
We have to ask ourselves how we make sure that money and know-how stay in Europe. It’s all about investing in ideas and people. Because even if a startup failed, there is usually a great team behind it, which can drive an upcoming project super forward.
How quickly know-how and people can be tapped Udo clarified with an anecdote when he was quoted with the headline “I build the next European Silicon Valley” on Techcrunch: The then Google CEO Eric Schmidt called him personally the next day and made the offer: “I’ll give you 1 million euros if I’m allowed to train people.” Money in exchange for access to the talent.
And so Udo finally asked the German family business to the attitude:
Whether we now with 1 billion or 1 million on the account cede does not matter. rather 999 million invested well in our own business models, talents and future!