GEW/Germany Kicks Off in Düsseldorf
Jonathan Ortmans @jortmans
Nov 10, 2012
With the Euro economic crisis drawing so much attention to Germany, I decided to kick off my GEW Tour today in Frankfurt where I met with representatives of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and members of the RKW Competence Center, which is organizing Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Germany. On Friday, November 9 in Düsseldorf, they kicked off a week of fairs and networking events for entrepreneurs where more than 900 partners will host nearly 2,000 events – including a nationwide National IT-Summit taking place in Essen on November 12-13.
Germany has a “tribal” history with autonomous states and other jurisdictions often operating independently of each other. We were delighted therefore when the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology approached us in 2010 about providing national leadership in hosting what is called here “Gründerwoche” (“Starting-up-Week” – entrepreneurship is hard to translate into German). The Ministry’s objective is to create a nationwide network in order to promote the entrepreneurial spirit all over Germany. To achieve this, the Ministry has successfully tapped into economic organizations across all 16 states in Germany as well as many business umbrella associations
Their support for GEW coincides with the 2010 redefined strategy of Federal Ministry of Economics for economic prosperity throughout the population. That year, the Ministry launched the initiative called “Gründerland Deutschland” (Startup Nation Germany) and thereby officially joined the global movement of “start-up nation” initiatives. Germany is now one of top public spenders on entrepreneurs. This commitment is important for a nation which announced today that even with increased public spending, its deficit is going down.
According to the Federal Association of German Entrepreneurs (BDI), although more than 95 percent of all German companies are family businesses, this typical organizational structure has not limited their size. Among the most successful German family businesses are behemoth carmakers Volkswagen and BMW, for instance. Altogether, these businesses represent 41.5 percent of German business volume and employ more than half of all German workers.
These entrepreneurs have also been great innovators. The latest Regional Innovation Scoreboardd shows that, within the EU, Germany is third after Sweden and Denmark in the overall innovation ranking. Innovation capacity in Germany is often attributed to firms’ embeddedness in a highly decentralized system of application-oriented universities and research institutions, according to the German Center for Research and Innovation . And Germany is building on its decentralized network of startup communities fitting in with current thinking in the field that suggests start-ups are best fostered in neighbourhoods and cities, not at the national level.
The German strategy for amplifying their entrepreneurial and innovative capacity encompasses many areas, including immigration. Although a proven source for entrepreneurial energy, Germany is among the few countries to seriously leverage immigrant entrepreneurship, along with Chile, Australia, Britain, Canada, and Singapore, all of which offer variations immigration initiatives as part of aggressive efforts to recruit entrepreneurs.
The hardest task for Germany I was told remains regulations and the need to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy hampering business creation and the already inherently difficult goal of growing a start-up. Here, startup costs can get much higher than in many other countries, and failing, which is the most likely scenario for most startups, is still not easy in the German legal system. Maybe GEW will shed some light on constructive ideas in this regard.
For a complete list of what is to come this week in Germany, visit the GEW/Germany site. I will check back next from Jeddah.