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The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) has launched a 10-point start-up strategy to strengthen Germany – and Europe’s – position as a start-up location to 2030. The EUR 30 billion initiative will improve the availability of venture capital to start-ups, address a skilled worker shortage and eliminate bureaucratic hurdles. Ten fields of action to be supported with a series of measures are documented in the 34-page policy paper. Germany’s venture capital market will be strengthened with EUR 10 billion in funding administered by the Future Fund through to 2030.
There are also plans for a “Growth Fund Germany” as a fund of funds for growth capital, which is intended to tap new investor groups for the German venture capital market. “Economic policy projects for the future must be driven forward, especially in difficult times like these. The German government’s start-up strategy is therefore a very important signal. Start-ups are young innovative companies that want to grow. They develop new ideas and drive innovation. Start-ups push us toward the future. If we improve the conditions for start-ups in Germany and Europe, we simultaneously strengthen ourselves as a business location” said Robert Habeck, Federal Minister for Economic Policy and Climate Action.
The start-up strategy also highlights the critical role start-ups have to play in taking positive climate action – around one in three start-ups currently make a significant contribution to the sustainable transformation of the country’s economy through climate and environmental protection measures. The German government has included the German Energy Agency (dena) SET Hub program and the Future Energy Lab under its umbrella of policies and measures in order to promote innovation in the start-up ecosystem. According to BMWK Digital Economy and Start-ups Commissioner Anna Christmann, all of the proposed measures should be implemented by the end of the legislative period in fall 2025.
Berlin venture capital company Earlybird has set up an “Earlybird Fund Uni-X” to provide pre-seed and early seed funding to very early stage start-ups and academic spin-offs. The new venture includes direct cooperation with 45 professors from leading universities including the RWTH Aachen University, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Imperial College London.
The new commercial fund seeks to promote deep-tech innovation in the fields of AI, mobility and robotics. According to Earlybird, 75 percent of deep-tech-innovations from European universities fail on their way to becoming start-ups. Only half of the between 45,000 and 60,000 new technologies and innovations developed in European universities make their way into spin-off company activities, with only half of these start-ups seeking financing. "Basic and cutting-edge research at Europe's universities remains absolutely world-class. Thousands of groundbreaking ideas are generated here every year yet we are still underexploiting this potential. Far too many technologies get stuck on their way out of universities. Especially in light of accelerating innovations in the deep tech sector, we urgently need to commercialize more of these ideas and technologies” said Earlybird co-founder and partner Hendrik Brandis.
Hamburg circular economy start-up Resourcify has developed an all-in-one waste management and recycling platform that it claims can help actors in a number of industries to reduce their waste costs by up to 30 percent compared to traditional analogue waste management solutions. The platform supports companies to handle their day-to-day efficiency and cost challenges on the way to zero waste. The company claims that its software solution allows large waste generators to identify recycling streams within their operations in order to trigger increased optimization for more sustainable business practice.
A Canadian fintech that provides a revenue-based financing to start-ups has launched its operations in Germany. Clearco – formerly Clearbanc – launched in Germany with plans to lend EUR 500 million to local businesses. The company foregoes equity stakes in companies for revenue share to be paid back as companies grow. The company claims to have provided investment of more than USD 2.5 billion to more than 5,500 start-ups worldwide since its inception in 2015.
A spin-off from the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology has developed a small optical laser module for lightweight augmented reality (AR) glasses that can be used for computer games, virtual travel and even as an aid for surgical operations. Itzehoe-based Oqmented is making the technology available to larger manufacturers of AR devices. Founded in 2019, the company, which now has 75 employees, won the state of Schleswig-Holstein’s start-up competition of the same year. The “light engine” is able to reflect light in the visible spectral range onto the glass in the user’s field of vision, making an array of new applications for AR glasses that project information into view possible. International manufacturers have expressed interest in the module, with the first products for the B2B sector likely available in 2025.