Munich: The hidden champion
When it comes to digital start-ups, Berlin might be pre-eminent but Munich has a longer and perhaps more impressive CV. In 2014 the Bavarian capital was designated
Europe’s number one internet communications technology hub by the European Commission, and it has a global reputation as a leading cluster for IoT.
Attracted by the high level of specialist talent produced by the Technical University of Munich (TUM), U.S. giants Microsoft, Intel and IBM are investing heavily in their Munich outposts (IBM is setting up a global development center for IoT there). “We have a very elaborate ecosystem which combines academic centers for technical innovation, big business, SMEs, start-ups and incubators,” explains Rita Roider at the city’s department of labor and economic development.
The wide range of entrepreneurship schemes at the TUM, the University of Munich and Ludwig-Maximilians University are driving some of Germany’s most successful start-ups, such as Navvis, an interior digital mapping company. Konux, another TUM spin-off, received a $7.5m (€7m) investment from Silicon Valley for its technology which monitors the condition of machines.
Munich for B2B
Munich’s natural advantage is its industrial landscape, especially the automobile, aerospace, medical technology and plant construction sectors. If your target customers are Siemens, BMW, Audi or Bosch, then Bavaria is a logical location. Several corporations have their own incubators here, including Siemens Next 47, BMW Startup Garage and the broadcaster Pro7 (for innovative digital media). There are also 25 incubators and accelerators in the area.
Munich cannot compete with Berlin on the number of funded start-ups (last year 56 from Munich received risk capital, compared to 220 from Berlin, according to EY), but it can boast the highest percentage of foreign entrepreneurs (15.1 per cent) of any German city and the highest average number of employees per start-up (31.1 compared to Berlin’s 28.1). “Because we have global players, we have a very international workforce and lots of foreign students,” says Roider.