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Starting up in Berlin

Europe’s hotspot for founders

Around 30% of all German startups are based in Berlin. And by far the most venture capital flows to Berlin. In the first half of 2021, 241 startups raised 4.1 billion euros. According to the EY Start-up-Barometer of July 2021 that is 54% of the total sum invested in German startups. The most important area was Fintech with more than 1.6 billion euros and thus over 83% of the German total in this sector. 

Why Berlin?

In the latest edition of the Startup Heatmap Europe, Berlin has overtaken London as the founders’ choice for the best city to start a company in. Why is that? 

The city attracts young, qualified people from all over the world. The high quality of life with still comparably low living expenses, the lively nightlife, and the international environment are the reasons for young entrepreneurs to grow their business ideas here. The starting conditions are advantageous: office and location expenses are still lower than in many other major cities. Berlin has the most coworking spaces in Germany, strong networks and numerous business incubators. The diversity and creative environment are a major plus: 80 percent of Berlin startups agree that the ecosystem benefits from immigration. There are also 50 percent more female founders than in other German cities.  

Turn your idea into a business

Every startup starts small. And the most important thing is to convince others of your ideas and vision. For presentation and pitch situations, it’s vital for every business idea to be organised into a clear business plan. If you’re still in the process of writing your plan or are wondering what needs to be included, many coaching programs offer support. 

The Berlin-Brandenburg Business Plan Competition (BPW) is Germany’s largest regional startup initiative. The program provides entrepreneurs with support in the development of their business concepts, with over 100 events and a network of more than 300 consultants.  

Other great choices are ERP Start-up Loan and IBB bank’s Coaching Bonus.  

If you’re already at a later stage, we’ve put together a 7-step-plan on how to set up your business in Berlin containing many helpful links and tips, as well as guideline to picking the most suitable legal form for your company

If you have already established your business and are based in one of our Start Alliance Cities, you might also qualify to try out the Berlin market and startup ecosystem for free! For information on upcoming programs, please see the Start Alliance website

Find the best deal

Besides bold ambition and innovative ideas, you’ll need money to make your business a reality. Fortunately, Berlin has the most investments in startups nationwide, numerous business angels and startup centers

VC investment in Germany
(c) statista

Berlin enjoys an investment-friendly climate and benefits from Federal State and EU supported funding programs for startups at all stages of development. The Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) provides a wide range of support programs for founders in Berlin – from business loans, funding, investments to loan guarantee. Have a look at the various offers that are available.  

Since applications are only accepted in German, please contact Berlin Partner if you need help with the process.  

Here are some of the top local funding programs as well as Berlin-based venture capitalists:

Funding programmes:

Venture capitalists:

Settle down in the right location

Finding the right location isn’t always easy in a city where space is in high demand. The team at the business location center is happy to help you with your search for suitable office space. You may also register in their Real Estate Portal, which provides an overview of the commercial real estate and spaces offered by public sector and private owners. 

Communication and media companies have settled along Berlin's "Mediaspree"
Communication and media companies have settled along Berlin's "Mediaspree" © carol_anne -

Additionally, these technology and new business centers in Berlin offer affordable office space, a chance to network with other entrepreneurs’ advice, consulting and other services: 

When it comes to coworking spaces, you will find plenty of options in Berlin with over 100 shared office spaces across the city – and that number is growing. Spaces are affordable, flexible and accommodate a range of working styles to include everything from quiet zones to more social spaces, and beanbags to standing desks. Coworking spaces are also ideal spots to connect, cultivate ideas, and collaborate. 

Make friends

© Buro Millenial / Pexels

Especially in a socially-minded city like Berlin, it is crucial to invest time into building a quality professional network. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go to business events and talk about work all the time. We have put together a list of tips that you should keep in mind when connecting to the German and Berlin startup-scene.  

If you need some hints where you are most likely to encounter the crowd you’re looking for, we have also compiled a list of startup events, conferences, and hotspots for networking

A very valuable and comprehensive resource for information about the Berlin startup ecosystem is the Berlin startup map. There you’ll find even longer lists of VC investors (including Business Angels), accelerator programsworkspaces, and of course startups that are already here.  

Berlin Partner offers special service packages that are designed to fit your company’s individual needs. All support is provided free of charge! Feel free to reach out anytime for any further assistance.

Header image: iStock - LanaStock

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