Is Baden-Württemberg’s new startup policy a “dramatic strategic mistake?” – An open letter to the German Startups Association.
19. May 2016
Dear German Startups Association,
Dear Florian Nöll,
Is Baden-Württemberg’s new startup policy a “dramatic strategic mistake?” From your column published in t3n, the answer to this question is frankly unclear. On the contrary. In our opinion, you’re actually engaging in “bashing” here in the preliminary stages, which is neither constructive, respectful nor helpful for the further development of startup ecosystems in Baden-Württemberg (BW).
There can be no doubt that the new state government’s objective to turn BW into the most dynamic startup state in Europe is ambitious. But it’s ultimately a question of formulating a vision and deciding on objectives. No one goes into something hoping for second place. That is why we fully welcome the new plans to support the startup scene in BW for the time being. Whether these measures are sufficient is, of course, debatable. But does the focus always need to be on policy? We can hardly blame policy for the lack of available venture capital and the alternative – for this to be compensated by state resources and therefore the taxpayers’ money – is not an option either. So we should stop pointing the finger at others, and it is really bad form to assign sweeping criticism to individuals even before they set foot in office. We urgently need to recognize our own corporate responsibility, including with regard to digitization.
The issue is that, in order to meet the planned targets and because we need more top startup centers in Germany and in Europe, we must create an ecosystem that is accordingly friendly to startups and businesses in which networking and cooperation between businesses and startups is an essential component. Unlike in virtually any other state, there is a growing network of corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises and global market leaders in Baden-Württemberg. In this context, for startups it’s a question of market access and financial support. For established companies it’s a question of access to innovation methods, technology and a new type of corporate culture and therefore a question of overcoming the challenges posed by digitization.
The incoming state government has already recognized much of this, but as things stand, only generic plans have been laid out in the coalition agreement. All sides must work together in coming up with concrete plans and their implementation. We must demand more from our policy, and from our economy, educational system, research institutions, special interest groups and associations if we are to make Baden-Württemberg the most dynamic startup state in Europe. That is why we at Accelerate Stuttgart and etventure would like to invite politicians, the German Startups Association and business representatives from Baden-Württemberg to engage with us in dialog so we can join forces and figure out how to reach the objectives set for BW in terms of it becoming a startup state and in terms of digital transformation – together.
Philipp Depiereux, Founder & Managing Director of etventure
Johannes Ellenber, Founder & Managing Director of Accelerate Stuttgart