Thorsten Lambertus

High-Tech statt Hype-Tech: Warum aus der Forschung die besseren Startups entstehen

10.7.2018

Germany is a high-tech country with top research and top positions in many industries - a giant in technological innovations, but a dwarf in international comparison when it comes to turning research results into successful companies. It's time for a new high-tech founding spirit.

Is Germany going to be part of the future start-up scene?

The start-up scene in Germany is still largely occupied with app and web development and e-commerce-related "end-customer understanding". There is undoubtedly a lot of catching up to be done here - but this concentration of start-up attention on the end-customer-oriented and technologically light areas does neither fit in with the many production-heavy companies in the key German industries nor with the special quality and expertise of engineers and knowledge workers in global players and SMEs. The great unique selling point of "Made in Germany", the technological excellence, the high degree of specialization and innovative strength, repeatedly ensures technological milestones, but (still) comparatively few start-ups, especially in future technologies.

It seems downright paradoxical: the DNA of the German economy receives the least attention in the current startup hype. One reason may be the rather underdeveloped venture capital scene in international comparison, another may be the excellent career opportunities in large companies. Much more important, however, is the unfortunately still underdeveloped founding awareness of the technological and entrepreneurial elite and the lack of knowledge about career opportunities as a founder and boss from research. Many German high-tech companies have excellent networks in the German research scene and the transfer of knowledge between companies and the diverse German research landscape is likely to be among the best in the world. A tradition of spin-offs of promising projects, such as the digital pacemakers USA and Israel, for example, has long been a normal and successful career path, is still the exotic exception here in Germany - and all those involved could benefit from a new wave of German start-ups in the high-tech sector. 

 

New high-tech entrepreneurial spirit: Entrepreneurs we really need

The much-vaunted start-up culture of the new CEOs in the 2000s and the smart developers in the bright lofts covers only a small part of the fields of innovation that are really important for the sustainability of the German economy - and in which the economic potential for the groundbreaking concepts is much higher. Whether artificial intelligence, health technology, biotech, energy or intermodal mobility - the more demanding the technology for future innovations, the more important founders' qualities become, which can no longer be acquired autodidactically or taught by "commercial start-up programs". Technology is the nucleus of the business model and requires appropriate expertise and cooperation of many players in an ecosystem. Scientists have a special repertoire of solutions to these problems: A new website has not yet cured cancer. Researchers bring with them the skills that are currently still in short supply in the German start-up scene.

The next wave of digitalization demands the connection of the beautiful new digital tools with the technological "hardware" in companies and research centers and thus offers scientists in particular excellent opportunities to capitalize on their knowledge as founders or co-founders. They are the "technological enablers" of digitization and are able to solve fundamental human problems. The path to becoming a founder or CIO is much easier and less risky than many people think. Basically, it is unthinkable, but should be tried.

Are you interested in High-Tech start-ups or do you want to build a successfull business model out of your technology? Then get in touch with us or look through our several opportunities at Fraunhofer Venture.