Stronger together – startup networks in Germany

Sonja Alt | May 02, 2017

This year, RKW Kompetenzzentrum (RKW Competence Center) is analyzing municipal and regional networks in the startup scene

Germany is home to many local startup networks that strengthen their startup ecosystems in the local area and support founders throughout all phases of their projects. Some of these networks were formed as part of the nationwide Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Germany, while others have been in place since as far back as the late 1990s. Although it is difficult to measure their direct influence on the startup scene, it is definitely apparent across the board that the shared presence networks provide in dealing with external audiences and the partnerships among local institutions – from universities, chambers and associations to banks and insurance providers – give rise to great synergetic effects, significantly greater visibility and strong external impact while also, and especially, fostering greater trust and confidence among partners themselves. The networks’ goal is, for example, to make local supporting structures more transparent, organize joint offerings, such as events and consultations, and initiate dialogue and sharing of experiences between startup founders.

Global Entrepreneurship Week Germany has been focusing for some years now on forging cooperative ties between its now more than 1,000 partners all over Germany and promoting the formation of networks. At RKW Kompetenzzentrum, there is an especially close link to the “Gründerökosystem” (Entrepreneurial Ecosystem) project, which the Department for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has been working on for three years.

In 2017, RKW Kompetenzzentrum is working extensively with startup networks in Germany. With this in mind, a systematic approach to surveys and a set of survey guidelines were developed at the start of the year. Based on these materials, the center is surveying a number of existing networks between late March and early May as a first step. Areas of emphasis include internal organization of network partners, the measures implemented and public image. The studies will also concentrate on the composition of the network and the partner structure and on cooperation with external partners, such as SMEs based in the local area. The goal is to develop an improved understanding of how the networks work, spark dialogue, enable mutual learning and develop measures to support the formation of further cooperative initiatives.

Startup networks that wish to participate in the project or learn more about the results of the process are more than welcome to get in touch with RKW Kompetenzzentrum.

This map provides an overview of startup networks with which we are working in the first part of the study. It will be updated on an ongoing basis.

Sonja Alt