State of Mind - Start-Up Germany

Authors: Kerstin Bock (Co-Founder & CEO, Openers) & Sabine Petzsch (Content Manager, Openers)

It’s been a good year for European startups – the venture capital firm Atomico’s State of European Tech report reveals that European tech is now growing five times faster than the rest of Europe’s economy, and that total investment into tech has hit $23bn. Which slice of the pie does the German ecosystem occupy? The news continues to be good, with just over $4bn being invested in German tech and 15 IPOs in the past year.

This leads to an increasing amount of people being employed in the tech sector (2018 saw a 4% year on year growth in the tech workforce). But the startup scene is more than just cool cafés in Kreuzberg and playing beer pong in Berlin: Germany has a great advantage in having more professional developers (851.000) than anywhere else in Europe and pushing for increasing digitalisation in almost all sectors. And these talents aren’t just flocking to the capital but choosing to settle in different cities across the country, creating a network of talent and knowledge exchanges. Additionally, Brexit looms large over the tech trends of 2019: Germany benefits from the uncertainty in the UK, as many talents are now heading to the continent and choosing cities in Germany to migrate to.


In 2019, the birthplace of the automobile is further making moves and increasingly investing into mobility: Even arch-rivals BMW and Daimler are putting aside their differences to beat the onslaught from ridesharing services such as Uber and collaborating on becoming a single source for sustainable urban mobility services. At the German House, we will invite experts from all aspects of mobility to debate the roads that future mobility is taking. This includes the role of autonomy and tech in the creation of new vehicles, developments in electric vehicles and alternative powertrains, the battle between rural and urban options, and the role of cities and communes in championing safer, cleaner and more affordable solutions.


The conversation of mobility extends to old industries such as travel and insurance being upended by young upstarts, as well as new industries (think anything from medical marihuana over digital therapeutics to industry 4.0, sector coupling or cobots) making their mark and convincing investors in 2019.


In the dialogue about how Germany and the tech sector are structuring their future plans, one facet has become central to the discussion: ethics. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) having been implemented and companies scrambling to stay on the right side of the law, questions have arisen about how individual consumers are protected, and how access to data leaves many vulnerable. The news is full of data breaches such as Collection #1, a breach detected by security researcher Troy Hunt earlier this year.


Going beyond the access to individual passwords and usernames, the tech scene also has to ask bigger questions and actually provide workable solutions when it comes to the ethics of its creations: what cost is involved with autonomous vehicles? How do we keep the human when all around us digitalisation is leading to accelerated development? And how do we keep providing jobs that have dignity when we are looking at a future where many lower-level employees will lose their livelihood to robots and AI?


At SXSW 2019, German Haus aims to tackle these questions and gather a variety of opinions and solutions from experts in different sectors. It is a space that enables visibility, networking, and learning, whilst also “prosting” new connections and opportunities for growth.