Key Topics

The World of Research, a Paradise of B2B, and Circular Entrepreneurship: Munich’s made for Founders

Young people chatting in green backyard © Bert Willer
09 February 2022

As a start-up metropole, Munich has something to show for: more than 77% of respondents to the German Startup Monitor gave the city a "(very) good" for its founder-friendly environment (see p. 45). Munich is second only to Berlin among urban start-up hubs in Germany (see p. 13). The excellent network plays a significant role here, bringing young companies in touch with consulting, talented people, partnerships, and funding.

Munich Can Do Better

Despite its entrepreneurial history and continuing economic success, the Munich region has not lived up to its potential to produce high-growth, innovative companies in recent decades. This is now changing - as a recent article by the Munich Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK München) summarizes. Six "unicorns" (start-ups valued at at least one billion US dollars) are currently located in Bavaria, more specifically in the metropolitan region of its capital. Celonis, as one of them, is a so-called "decacorn" since 2021 and is valued at more than USD 10 billion. Munich's strength: start-ups focusing on business-to-business (B2B).

Research Meets Application

Many players make the city a home for start-ups. For example, the Technical University of Munich has offered scalable high-tech teams a rich breeding ground to flourish with its action plan "TUM. The Entrepreneurial University" since the 2000s. It ranks third among Germany's top founding universities (see Startup Monitor 2021, p. 23).

High tech companies such as Blickfeld, Celonis, Isar Aerospace, Konux, Lilium Aviation, NAVVIS and Personio have originated in Munich. Most of these technology companies have been founded by students, researchers and alumni of local universities.

Prof. Dr. Helmut Schönenberger, founder and CEO of UnternehmerTUM,
in the book "Clusters of Innovation in the Age of Disruption" (publication date: July 2022) by Prof. Jerome Engel

People who want to pursue their idea further will find their next springboard at one of the centers dedicated to supporting founders. For example, at UnternehmerTUM: Every year, we support hundreds of entrepreneurial teams, e.g. with:

  • education and coaching
  • training in the phases of incubation and acceleration
  • (international) exchange in our network
  • innovation projects and tech challenges
  • access to the high-tech workshop MakerSpace
  • capital for building prototypes and growing further

Rising Up with Us

In 2021, more than 50 start-ups with scalable business models have launched at our center. At the same time, our team has supported more than 300 founding teams and accompanied more than 500 start-up and tech projects. Young companies participating in UnternehmerTUM programs typically show a very high "survival rate" and grow sustainably. For example, 87% of the XPRENEURS Incubator alumni teams, soon starting the eleventh batch, are still in business. Also, 85% of the 127 teams that have graduated from the TechFounders accelerator so far are still active.

UTUM Colab2021 229web © Thomas Dashuber

This is the melting pot where research and education turn into revenue and Ebit.

Handelsblatt newspaper about UnternehmerTUM in its article
“Silicon Valley an der Isar: Wie München Start-ups und Tech-Giganten anzieht” ("Silicon Valley at the Isar: How Munich Attracts Start-ups and Tech Giants.")

Start-ups That Give Back

Companies like FlixMobility and Zalando also turn international eyes on the German start-up scene. With their acquisition of the American market leader in long-distance bus travel, Greyhound, the FlixMobility team has catapulted into the American market. The founders André Schwämmlein, Jochen Engert, and Daniel Krauss themselves made their beginnings in Munich in 2013 and raised venture capital from UVC Partners, among others. Today, they’re still quite engaged in the UnternehmerTUM network and inspire the next generation.

High achievers like the Flixbus founders reinvest their millions and help newcomers avoid the mistakes they made themselves. UnternehmerTUM bundles financial and intellectual input into support programs that push the next big thing onto the ramp. A classic economic spiral effect.

News magazine FOCUS in its cover story “München hebt ab!” (“Munich Takes Off!”)

Flix Bus founderteam M Ds small © FlixBus

With our new series "Making U Count", we use stories, interviews, and photo spreads to show the added value that UnternehmerTUM has created over the past 20 years, which experiences have been most formative, and how they have sharpened our vision.

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