Elaborations by Adrian Thoma, Regional Representative for Baden-Württemberg of the German Startups Association
3-Sentence Pitch on the local Startup Ecosystem:
Baden-Wuerttemberg is not only the region of Daimler, Porsche or Bosch but also the home for many so-called hidden champions and international innovation leaders. A vibrant and fast-growing startup scene is evolving around that corporate infrastructure, providing an outstanding breeding ground for especially b2b oriented ventures where the regional corporates are not only potential customers and cooperation partners but also promising strategic investors.
Within the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, there are five main regional hubs with a different industrial focus:
- Stuttgart – Automotive
- Karlsruhe – IT
- Mannheim / Heidelberg – MedTech
- Tübingen – Biotech
- Heilbronn – Industrial Internet
Sectoral Focus of the Startup Ecosystem
Baden-Wuerttemberg has a very decentral and versatile startup scene. Local hubs/cities claim specific focus sectors such as “Automotive” in Stuttgart, where the Automobile has been invented.
Local Financing Landscape/Presence of VCs
There are many publicly funded programs financing entrepreneurship, especially in the very early (pre-seed) stages. Unfortunately, there is only a few venture capital for seed- and startup-stage ventures available. However, there is a growing availability of corporate venture funds, such as Robert Bosch Venture Capital, MAHLE Ventures or Trumpf Ventures.
Presence and Industrial Focus of Established Industries
This is one of the main advantages of Baden-Wuerttemberg: it has the highest share of its GDP spent on research and development and the highest number of patent applications per million inhabitants. Not only in urban areas where industry giants like Bosch, Daimler, Porsche or Sony Europe run important R&D activities, but also in the rural areas where most of the hidden champions are located. One-third of Baden-Wuerttemberg inhabitants are directly or indirectly employed in the manufacturing industry, which is definitively the most important industry.
Presence of Incubators/Accelerators
Startup Autobahn (www.startup-autobahn.com) is certainly the most international program in Baden-Wuerttemberg as it is operated by Silicon Valley-based Plug&Play Accelerator with a focus on mobility and automotive startups. International startups are very welcome to apply.
Presence of Research Institutes and Universities
Within the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, there are various research institutes with different research focuses.
- Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (www.kit.edu) – IT
- University of Stuttgart (www.uni-stuttgart.de) – Mechanical Engineering
- Fraunhofer IPA (www.ipa.fraunhofer.de)- Manufacturing Engineering and Automation
- Fraunhofer IOSB (www.iosb.fraunhofer.de/servlet/is/12481) – Optronics, System Technologies, and Image Exploitation
new.New Festival (www.newnewfestival.com)
Cyber One (www.cyberone.de)