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Stuttgart and the surrounding area provide the ideal conditions for start-ups to prosper: a dynamic entrepreneurial scene, successful industry, co-working, financing and consulting. Successful corporate groups and strong medium-sized businesses are equally at home here – in industries from mobility to mechanical engineering and the creative economy. Corporates and start-ups enjoy great connections across the region. The excellent research and university landscape represents a valuable resource for young businesses and new ideas.
The Stuttgart region is the birthplace of the automobile. And the area continues to play a leading role in automotive and mechanical engineering to this day. It has also witnessed the development of an IT industry and a vibrant creative economy. These have been joined by the biotechnology, environmental technology and financial services industries. Overall, the Stuttgart region is one of the best-performing economic regions in the world and is characterised by a mix of global players and innovative medium-sized companies.
In addition to this economic strength, it also boasts a great research and higher-education landscape that cooperates closely with local companies. 45 % of the research and development capacity of the whole state is concentrated in this location. In terms of third-party funding obtained, Stuttgart University was the most successful university in Germany in 2013, recording a total of 744,000 Euro per professor. In the Stuttgart region, there are two dozen universities, colleges and academies, more than 60,000 students, four Fraunhofer Institutes, a Fraunhofer information centre, two Max Planck Institutes, numerous renowned research and development centres from the private sector and more than a dozen regional competence and innovation centres founded thanks to support from the economy, science and the public sector. These share the objective of forming clusters of innovative talents and converting outstanding research into successful everyday products.
Stuttgart and the surrounding area now hosts a strong start-up ecosystem, thanks to the support of numerous partners. Major corporate players in the Stuttgart region, such as Daimler, Bosch, Porsche etc. work closely with start-ups. The Autobahn start-up, a consortium of several companies led by Daimler, is a good example of this. There is also a host of institutions that offer a wide range of support services for start-ups to provide consulting, training programs and events, locations and financing.
In the consulting area, this includes traditional consulting services from the Starter Center at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) of the Stuttgart Region and the Board of Trade Region Stuttgart or the Start-up Office for State Capital, Stuttgart. There are also programs specifically for start-ups (provided by Accelerate Stuttgart, Activatr and CODE_n, for example). Plans are in motion to group accelerators and hubs that work with the topics of mobility, IT and Industry 4.0 under the de.hub umbrella. The first steps in this direction were recently taken with the approval of the Stuttgart de.hub “Driving.Future.Industries”.
Research institutions, universities and colleges also provide services for start-ups and incubators (e.g. TTI, Generator, Fraunhofer) and the extra-occupational Masters course of study entitled Intra- and Entrepreneurship (tech). There is also a diverse range of locations for start-ups, including everything from traditional office space to start-up centres and co-working spaces, in Stuttgart and the surrounding area (CODE_n-Spaces, Wizemann.Space, Coworking0711, G-INNO, for example). Live at Work in Stuttgart helps to develop new ways of working. The “Social Impact” area is now also represented in Stuttgart. There has been a Social Impact Lab in the Merzakademie since 2017 and a Social Impact Community in the Wizemann.Space. There are primarily focused on start-ups that concentrate on the subject of sustainable development.
Financing is also an important topic for start-ups. The region is working constantly on improving the range of options in this area. In addition to the traditional financing offered by banks and the extremely dynamic network of the Business Angels Region Stuttgart (supported by the economic development department of the Stuttgart region), there are also VC companies (such as the Mittelständische Beteiligungsgesellschaft BW GmbH, LBBW Venture Capital GmbH or Grazia Equity GmbH) and an increasing number of Corporate Venture Capital institutions that provide additional funding options for start-ups (e.g. EnBW New Ventures GmbH, Vector Venture Capital, Trumpf Venture GmbH or Robert Bosch Venture Capital). The ecosystem also benefits from a tight network of international partners.
The Startup Stuttgart e.V. association has set itself the objective of driving the ecosystem forward in the Stuttgart region. The association organises monthly start-up barbecues, to bring together entrepreneurs, start-ups and companies together in a relaxed environment.