Background. As economies around the world focus on digitalization to maintain (or increase) their competitiveness and ensure future growth, the Frankfurt Rhein-Main region is no exception. When it comes to the digital economy however, the region, along with Germany and even Europe as a whole, falls behind leaders such as the United States or China. According to a joint study by Accenture and Oxford Economics, the share of digital in the German economy was 25.9% in 2016 and is predicted to grow to 30% by 2021. In comparison, the United States‘ digital economy in 2016 accounted for 33.7% of its overall economy, and this is predicted to grow to 36.3% by 2021.
With this in mind, several new initiatives are being put in place across Germany to promote innovation of digital sectors. One of them is the Digital Hub Initiative by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, which recently established 12 digital hubs throughout the country. Another one, made public today, is the Masterplan for the startup region of Frankfurt Rhein-Main, of which TechQuartier and the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Regional development are key actors.
Startups in the Frankfurt-Region
Tech startups are the growth engine for emerging digital ecosystems. Thus, the creation, growth and success of tech startups is crucial for a successful transformation. In Germany, Berlin is often cited as the primary hub for startups, being ranked 7th in the world according to the latest Startup Genome which evaluates startup ecosystems around the world. But Frankfurt is coming along; last year, it was officially introduced as part of the 2017 Genome report, and will be again in 2018.
And with good reason. The region of Frankfurt Rhine-Main is well-equipped to foster the success of startups. It is a very international city and one of the world’s most important traffic hubs. It is also one of Europe’s most important financial centre, home of the European Central Bank, the Deutsche Börse (German Stock Exchange), the Deutsche Bundesbank (German central bank) and many of the world’s largest financial institutions. With such a high concentration of banks, investment funds, insurers and other large corporations, the potential is there for a greater more collaboration with innovative startups that bring forward-thinking solutions to the table.
The Masterplan : a roadmap to success
The plan launched today aims to make Frankfurt not only a leading European Fintech hub, but a global player on the startup scene. To reach this objective, 20 measures along 4 axis have been developped. They are :
Axis 1 — Talent activation
Universities are the base of a dynamic, innovative startup ecosystem. This is why the first part of the plan is to establish entrepreneurship chairs at
all universities in the Rhine-Main region, with dedicated courses and seminars on Entrepreneurship. The goal here is to position advantageously this topic as a central component of university education and solidify the burgeoning interest students have for startups as a serious career option.
Other measures include : University cooperation platform; international exchange programs; mentoring; flagship conference; simplification of the talent search; summer schools; collaboration between students, teachers and startups; establishement of a job and internship portal; job fairs.
Axis 2 — Promotion of cooperation
Major steps will be adopted to create a cooperative ecosystem with international reach. This means establishing an international startup and investor conference once a year in the region. Another prime focus will be put on networking at both the local and international level between founders and investors. Finally, something that has already begun and which is a cornerstone of TechQuartier’s implication is the cooperation between local SMEs and large companies. Corporates are always looking to solve their internal challenges and identify new business opportunities. Startups often have the key, and what is often missing is the simple action of connecting. The goal is to provide ways for both parties to be matched and generate win-win collaborations.
Other measures include : Call for project by the City of Frankfurt to solve urban problems and identify use cases or competitions; position the city as a platform for digital solutions
Axis 3 — Access to capital
A key measure to improve founders and startups access to capital is the setting up a state fund, which will invest in selected startups in the region. There will also be funds for the replenishment of potential early stage investments. Also in focus will be the marketing of alternative financing resources (crowdfunding & crowdvesting as resources for new startups, for example.)
Other measures will include : cooperation with established accelerators and offer from corresponding programs for selected startups; settlement of branch offices of internationally established companies accelerators.
Axis 4 — Promotion of the location
With the help of its partners, the state will be working closely with housing authorities to make enough new and affordable office space available, and to help solve visa issues for startups and international talent. There will also be the creation, through TechQuartier, of a web portal offering an overview, key metrics and storytelling of the local startup ecosystem. Finally, efforts will be deployed to ease the creation of innovation labs and / or subsidiaries of international tech companies, the goal being to create attractive conditions for the development and strengthening of the ecosystem.
Other measures will include : the offer a welcome package with essential
information about setting up shop in Frankfurt (workplace, apartment, RMV ticket for new founders at the location (each for 3 months); access to and expansion of international schools; International marketing of the
ecosystem and its players; representation of the Frankfurt office, its founders and start-ups in international flagship events; establishment of representative offices in established startup hotspots; annual ecosystem analysis in cooperation with established research institutions; annual FinTech analysis
These steps will be implemented with a budget of 15 to 20 million euros over the next 3 to 5 years.
The role of TechQuartier
TechQuartier is already afocal point for regional players and increasingly for international stakeholders as well. Since its inception in 2016, the organization is already a recognized name in Germany when it comes to FinTech. TQ acts as central and independent hub for regional and global FinTechs, which is why it was selected as the FinTech Hub Frankfurt by the de:hub initiative of the ministry.
Therefore, our role will be one of coordinator of this masterplan, overseeing the implementation of several of the measures and monitoring the KPIs, along with reporting to the various collaborators at regular intervals.
It is also responsible for the international benchmarking of the regional ecosystem through the Startup Genome initiative and for the realization of the local survey of the numerous startups. This data, in turn, will be mined for insights and used as part of a new website that will ‘’tell the stories’’ of the Frankfurt Rhein-Main ecosystem and market them to an international audience. This website will be online shortly, and several of the pieces will be found here on Medium. Stay tuned!
About TechQuartier :
Located in the heart of Frankfurt, TechQuartier serves as a creative arena and melting pot for entrepreneurs and innovators. We provide access to a valuable network of startups, corporates, investors, talents and mentors, from the financial industry and beyond. More information at www.techquartier.com
If you have any questions regarding the Masterplan, TechQuartier or if you are looking for ways to join our community, please reach out to Hugo Paquin at email@example.com