Baden-Württemberg: Why the election will also decide the future of start-ups

The parties have a number of plans to promote start-ups in the state even better. This could raise the location to a new level. But representatives of the scene are worried that this will not work.

The election on March 14 in Baden-Württemberg will also be an election about the future of the start-up region BW. Because the parties go into the election campaign with partly very different concepts, which leads to the questions: How did it go so far - and how could it look in the future in the Ländle?

When Adrian Thoma looks back on the past five years, he can definitely give politics in Baden-Württemberg a satisfactory report card. "A lot has happened for start-ups in our state," says the founder and CEO of Pioniergeist, who is also a member of the German Start-up Association. "It's really been a kissing awake for the scene." Behind Pioniergeist is a company builder with which Thoma wants to support young companies and strengthen the start-up location.

However, when Thoma thinks about the future of Baden-Württemberg as a location, the euphoria quickly evaporates. Together with other representatives of the scene, he has founded the political campaign "Start-ups in Baden Württemberg 2021

". In it, they call for increasing the visibility of start-ups in the state, creating sustainable structures and strengthening cooperation between established companies and young firms.

Because Thoma still sees enough obstacles in Baden-Württemberg. "Expressed in founder language, we have so far only received our start-up funding from politics," he says. "Now we are faced with the question of whether we will remain at this level - or we will get follow-up financing." Translated, this means that there are many good approaches and if they are not followed up, the start-up ecosystem in Baden-Württemberg is in danger of stagnating, he says.

For Thoma, one of the good approaches is the Start-up BW Pree Seed

programme. The federal state has provided 14 million euros for the financing programme. It is to flow into start-ups in the early phase, which can not yet hope for private investors. "The program went so well that the money was quickly exhausted," says Thoma. "We definitely need to extend it." Thoma not only wants more money, but would like another fund to follow up with startups.

Don't always look to Silicon Valley

Thoma's campaign has also been joined by Professor Dr Alexander Brem. He is the director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research at the University of Stuttgart, as well as the holder of the Chair for Entrepreneurship in Technology and Digitalization, which is supported by the Daimler Fund in the Stifterverband. "It's not always about looking to Bavaria, Berlin or even Israel as well as Silicon Valley," he says. "There are excellent start-ups, enterprising start-up promoters and active family offices in Baden-Württemberg - it's just that hardly anyone knows about them. The key is to build on existing strengths and pass the balls to each other."

According to Brem, there is a lack of transparency in Baden-Württemberg. "Founders still often don't know where they can get which funding," he says. Too often, he says, people still think in terms of smaller ecosystems, such as the individual institution, or the city, like Stuttgart and Karlsruhe. "Founders still don't have a proper lobby." Brem would therefore like to see a start-up speaker from the ranks of the state parliament or an appointee of the state government who would push the issue in a non-partisan way and be available as a contact person.

The central demands of the parties at a glance

And politics? The digital association Bitkom has written to all parties currently represented in the state parliament and asked them about their plans for start-ups. Except for the AfD, all parties have responded to the association.

Accordingly, the Greens want to increase state funding for start-up venture capital in order to attract additional private capital, thus following one of the central demands of the campaign "Start-ups in Baden Württemberg 2021". In particular, the party wants to support GreenTech and social entrepreneurship. They also want to ensure that start-ups are increasingly considered in public award processes.

The CDU wants to create a single point of contact for start-ups. It also wants to give start-ups more consideration in public procurement. The party also wants a new start-up fund, part of which will be used to create incentives for climate-neutral business.

The SPD wants to start funding start-ups at school, an idea that both Thoma and Brem like. Start-ups more financially promote, the comrades also want, for example, by launching a new venture capital fund. However, the social democrats are against a stronger consideration in public procurement, because this is not possible anyway under procurement law.

The FDP names as major weaknesses the "bureaucratic hurdles and the insufficient financing possibilities" for founders. According to the ideas of the Liberals, there should be more "economic freedom zones", in which startups in particular are given "opportunities to develop quickly". This should also attract more venture capital to Baden-Württemberg.

The Left Party also relies heavily on the means of public allocation. In order to promote start-ups, the state government should support affordable housing and day-care places - the provision of venture capital, on the other hand, is not a task of state politics.

If most of the parties' demands make it into a coalition agreement, it could boost the startup location. "Baden-Württemberg is already a startup hotspot in Germany. The state can score especially with the close cooperation with its universities and the many strong medium-sized and large industrial companies," says Wolfgang Hackenberg, Bitkom state spokesman for Baden-Württemberg. "State policy is of crucial importance when it comes to supporting start-ups."

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