When you think of start-ups and young companies in Germany, you might be more tempted to associate them with big cities, such as Berlin or Frankfurt. However, within the economic landscape of the state of Baden-Württemberg, fast growing start-up companies are often situated in relatively small towns. For example the town of Walldorf (Baden), with a population of 15,000 is home to the headquarters of SAP, now one of the largest software companies in the world, and is also home to the long established manufacturing company Heidelberger Druckmaschinen which hosts 5000 employees at its Walldorf/Wiesloch branch. Walldorf, along with Mannheim and Heidelberg, is one of 9 start-up ecosystems in Baden-Württemberg, all of which we are proud of.
Within the start-up Monitor of 2017, carried out by the government-owned KfW-Institute, Baden-Württemberg comes ninth, having improved immensely from its lowly position in 2015. We are cooperating with many partners to further improve this positive trend.
There are a number of start-up hotspots in our state, with different drivers focusing on different industries. Whether in Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Aalen, Heilbronn, Freiburg, Ulm, Konstanz, Albstadt or in the Stuttgart region – local authorities, chambers of commerce, trade associations, universities and research institutes across Baden-Württemberg are working with corporates, investors and start-up associations, setting up powerful networks to provide financing and subsidies in start-up and technology centres, which, in turn, support, promote and strengthen new companies.
These start-up ecosystems are hives of activity, where the seeds for tomorrow’s economic landscape are sown, nurtured and cherished. Start-ups are being initiated across a wide spectrum of technology in Baden-Württemberg.
This is no coincidence. Baden-Württemberg has long been home to lots of successful companies, positioned at the forefront of technological advancement for many decades. These companies want to ensure the continuity of their success, and are constantly looking for ideas to maintain this level of excellence. As a result an increasing number of large corporate and medium-sized companies are getting involved with start-ups as partners and mentors, providing venture capital and setting up accelerator programs. This culture of excellence, activity and corporate involvement has been ingrained in Baden-Württemberg for some time. As a result, the climate for start-ups is extremely productive, as well as internationally open.
Baden-Württemberg is home to a wide range of start-up initiatives that have yet to receive the attention they deserve. Start-up BW are intending to change this with our involvement in economic policy, a strategy which is already paying off. A good example of our success is the fact that Baden-Württemberg has the widest range of school-based entrepreneurship education measures of any EU region.
Our start-up scene is dominated by opportunity-based start-ups, which is very positive. Opportunity-based start-ups are initiated through choice, rather than through pressure of circumstance (such as unemployment). They originate from a great idea, combined with real enthusiasm for a product or a service. People who are thus driven to start a business are commonly referred to as opportunity entrepreneurs. It is well known that opportunity start-ups produce more innovations in the marketplace, employ more people and survive competition far longer than businesses started out of necessity.
Our grandparents in Baden-Württemberg earned a nationwide reputation for being hard-working. The aim of ‘Start-up BW’ for the future is to complement this with a reputation for creating innovative and successful new businesses. We want to use this campaign, within national and international boundaries, to represent Baden-Württemberg as a start-up state, to increase its visibility and recognition around Europe and the world, and to promote the idea that start-ups can grow and prosper here.
People who start a business in BW are basing their decision on an innovative business idea which has the potential to grow; their numbers are increasing even though the number of start-ups is decreasing across the Federal Republic of Germany generally. Innovative business ideas with a potential for growth are the real start-ups, of which we need more.
“Start-up BW” represents a high-performance network of partners from a variety of regional or institutional backgrounds. It is the umbrella brand under which we bring together all relevant actions and subsidy options, allowing us to increase the level of service and transparent support for start-ups from within Baden-Württemberg. It is just as important, however, to encourage entrepreneurs from other states and also from other countries to start up in Baden-Württemberg. We want to attract the best start-ups. With Start-up BW, Baden-Württemberg is taking start-up financing and professional support to a level of international excellence.
Start-up BW must also encourage people who live in Baden-Württemberg to come on board and start a business and/or to support their children and grandchildren to follow their entrepreneurial aspirations. We encourage the view that failure presents opportunity and that it is important to act now instead of waiting for the perfect moment to arrive. Starting your own business requires this kind of courage – in the same way that it requires partners, consultants, coaches and investment capital. Start-up BW are placing our faith in the concept of courage first.