Starting up in Berlin
Europe’s hotspot for founders
With around 500 new tech startups popping up each year, Berlin is a thriving hub for entrepreneurs. In 2018 Berlin was entitled to be the hotspot of the German startup scene: 40 percent of all financing rounds were invested here. That’s almost 3 billion euros of venture capital. Around 50 percent of all startups in Germany are founded in Berlin. According to the EY Start-up-Barometer Germanyof January 2019, 460 million went to the Auto1 Group, 172 million to Home24, 132 million to the FinTech company N26 and 132 million to GoEuro. This means that four of the 5 largest investments in Germany went to Berlin-based companies.
The city attracts young, qualified people from all over the world. The high quality of life at comparably low living expenses, the vital scene life and international environment are the reasons for young entrepreneurs to implement 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 Belin 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
For presentation and pitch situations, it’s vital for every business idea to be organised into a clear business plan. If your still in the process of writing your plan or are wondering what needs to be included, many coaching programmes are offering support. The Berlin-Brandenburg Business Plan Competition (BPW) is Germany’s largest regional startup initiative. The programmes provide 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 Gruendercoaching Deutschland, IBB bank’s Coaching Bonus and BBB start.
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 a guideline to pick 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.
Berlin enjoys an investment-friendly climate and benefits from Federal State and EU supported funding programmes for startups at all stages of development. In their Business Support Guide, the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) provides a wide range of support programmes for founders in Berlin – from business loans, funding, investments and 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:
- Berlin Start (Loan – IBB)
- BHT-Gründerstipendium or Startup Incubator Berlin (Scholarships – Beuth Hochschule and HWR Berlin)
- ProFIT early phase financing (grant/loan combination – IBB)
- Coaching BONUS (subsidized coaching – IBB)
- Innovation Assistant (Labour cost subsidy – IBB)
- Gründungs BONUS (Subsidy – IBB)
- bmp (Contact)
- Earlybird (Contact)
- estag (Contact)
- Hasso Plattner Ventures (Contact)
- IBB Beteiligungsgsellschaft (Contact)
- Point Nine Capital (Contact)
- Ventegis Capital (Contact)
If your uncertain, which option is right for you, the online tool of the Berlin chamber of commerce and industry (IHK), can be of help. They also offer a Beginner’s guide on starting a business in Berlin. Finally The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) also provides information about available funding programmes in Berlin.
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 for their Real Estate Portal, which provides an overview of the commercial real estate and spaces offered by public sector and private owners.
Additionally, these technology and new business centres in Berlin offer affordable office space, a chance to network with other entrepreneurs’ advice, consulting and other services:
- Charlottenburg Innovation Centre – CHIC
- Innovation and Incubation Center – IGZ – Campus Berlin-Buch
- WeiberWirtschaft – Centre for Women Establishing New Businesses
- Innovation and Business Incubation Centre Berlin-Adlershof – IGZ
- International Business Incubator Berlin-Adlershof – OWZ
- Wuhlheide Innovation Park
- Medien-Technologie-Centrum – MTC
- Spreeknie TGS Technology and Start-up Centre
- Women’s Business Centre Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf – UCW
When it comes to coworking spaces, you will find plenty of options in Berlin, with over 100 shared office spaces across the city – and 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.
Especially in 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 solely go to business events and talk about work all the time. Therefore, 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.
Berlin Partner offers special service packagesthat 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: Christoph Naumann