The shortage of skilled workers is a challenge for many startup founders in Berlin. Therefore, the expansion of talent promotion is also one of the five pillars of the Berlin 2026 start-up agenda, which the main representatives of the Berlin economy from IHK, the Chamber of Crafts signed on Friday, in the AI campus, not far from the Nordbahnhof.
Another pillar is the current problem of diversity and, in particular, the still low proportion of female founders. “It can’t be that we’re that bad,” says Stefan Franzke, director of Berlin Partner. He was recently in Dubai and discovered that half of the startups are women.
With nine senior representatives appearing at Friday’s event, the Senate wanted to underscore how important the start-up scene has become for the capital. In fact, the mayor governor had planned to participate, but he had to take care of the refugees from Ukraine. Economy Senator Stephan Schwarz was absent on short notice due to a positive corona test.
Secretary of State Michael Biel said of the young companies: “They are of the utmost importance for the backbone of the Berlin economy.” Therefore, the launch agenda was deliberately included as one of four items on the Senate’s 100-day agenda.
60 percent of venture capital in Germany flowed to Berlin
According to the new Berlin start-up report, more than 600 new start-ups are created every year. In the previous year, investors invested more than ten billion euros in the companies, which is three times more than in 2020. In addition, 60 percent of the venture capital invested in Germany flowed into the capital.
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“The Berlin start-up scene is going from one record to another,” says report author Hergen Wöbken of the Institute for Strategic Development (IFSE). “It’s a driver of the economy in Berlin and sets the pace in Europe.” It is more difficult to determine how many jobs will be created as a result of the unclear statistical allocation. “Depending on the definition, we have 25,000 or 250,000 jobs,” says Wöbken. If you limit the age of companies to ten years, local start-ups employ more than 80,000 people, half of them in Berlin.
Startups should help authorities with digitization
Another point on the agenda should be the better integration of start-ups in the tedious digitization of the authorities. “They are the key to digitizing our administration well,” Biel said. “We can’t do that alone.” However, changes to the award procedures are necessary, says Bitkom state spokesman Maxim Nohroudi: “We have to structure the tenders in such a way that the public sector becomes an active client of start-ups.” The transformation of the economy towards greater sustainability is also central to the agenda: “Start-ups provide innovative answers to the problems of tomorrow,” says Biel.
To promote this, there will soon be a “first public impact fund with a volume of 30 million euros” from the investment bank Berlin (IBB), said Hinrich Holm, a member of the board. This is remarkable given the bank’s circumstances, after all it has invested a total of €90m in start-ups to date. And: “For every euro we invest, another seven comes from other investors,” says Holm. However, the majority, especially the high investments, come from the US and China. “Dependence on foreign capital is no different from fossil energy,” says Nohroudi. “If the coal stops coming, we are ruined.”
Since the economic boom of the last few years is over, more funding records should not necessarily be expected. The Senate also sees this danger, but has limited room for manoeuvre. “The federal government must play more of its financial support role,” says Secretary of State Biel. The Senate must develop concrete financing measures by October.