What Munich's startup ecosystem has to offer
Munich's success factors for startups
Munich has a dynamic and extremely well connected startup community. All the latest news from the city's startup landscape is documented online at munich-startup.de, Munich's official startup portal for the city and surrounding region.
One very visible face of Munich's startup community is its annual Bits & Pretzels congress, which, in the space of just a few years, has flourished and grown into a three-day startup festival attracting 5,000 participants from Germany and abroad.
Munich's local government, the Free State of Bavaria and an array of chambers are hard at work to give startups the infrastructure they need. With the Technical University of Munich (TUM) leading the way, the city's institutes of higher education have anchored entrepreneurship in their courses of study, and have so far been highly successfully in helping students and graduates launch new businesses.
The first port of call is the Munich Business Startup Office (MEB), an initiative run jointly by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria and the City of Munich itself, which provides solid, free advice on starting a business. Both city and state also invest substantially in weaving high-quality networks for startups and entrepreneurs. Meetups, conferences, industry get-togethers and a host of events regularly bring the Munich startup community together.
The Bavarian capital likewise boasts plenty of funding support, even though some observers would like to see more. Accelerators and incubators assist with financing rounds and put firms in touch with VC firms and business angels.
Munich's startup ecosystem at a glance
- German startup association Bundesverband Deutsche Startups e.V. counted some 700 startups in Munich in 2015.¹
- Munich is one of the six hotspots for startups in Germany.²
- Startups all over the country expect only four of these hotspots to gain in importance: Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Berlin.³
- Startups in Munich have an exceptionally international flavor: The Bavarian capital boasts the highest share of foreign startup entrepreneurs (9.9% from elsewhere in the EU/5.9% from outside the EU).²
- Munich has the most self-funded startups (26.2%).²
- Munich has more founding teams (81.1%) than any other city in Germany. Teams often enjoy greater economic success: If you start a business with partners, you can balance out technical and business shortcomings, tap more equity and impress investors with a variety of skills.
- Nine out of ten Munich startups attest to a positive startup climate in the region. 62% praise its broadband expansion and high-speed Internet connectivity (against a national average of only 40%).³
- Startups in Munich are more optimistic than their peers in other German cities: Four out of five Munich startups expect revenues to increase, and two thirds are keen to recruit new staff.³
- Knowledge transfer works better in Munich: 20% of Munich startups cooperate with scientific institutes, compared to a national average of just 16%.3
Benefits in every startup phase
Munich's robust support and proven structures cover all three of the startup phases that experts identify. The stated aim of everyone involved is to continually optimize these structures in line with current developments. The result? Startups in Munich are quick off the blocks, can grow healthily and become firmly established.
From the perspective of digitalization, too, Munich's standing as a high-tech region delivers crucial advantages.
Get off to a flying start in Munich
Our free, professional advice covers a broad spectrum of would-be startup entrepreneurs:
- The Munich Business Startup Office MEB provides tailor-made and one-on-one consulting sessions (in other languages, too), weekly information events, video tutorials, business plan templates, startup checklists and more
- The Cultural and Creative Industries Team provides support specially tailored to cultural professionals and startup entrepreneurs in the eleven segments of the creative industry.
Effective entrepreneurship support is available from Munich's universities:
- The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is Germany's foremost startup university.² Based on the Californian model, its affiliated Center for Innovation and Business Creation “UnternehmerTUM” has, since 2002, been spawning around 70 startups a year.4
- In 2017, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich (LMU) ranked fourth in Germany and delivers efficient support for startups with its Entrepreneurship Center.²
- Run by the Munich University of Applied Sciences (MUAS), the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (SCE) is similarly proactive, concentrating on interdisciplinary support with a practical focus.
- Munich's Social Entrepreneurship Academy (SEA) devotes itself specifically to young social enterprises.
Experienced development networks include BayStartUPGmbH, which runs the Munich Business Plan Competition, and GründerRegioM, whose offerings target students, female entrepreneurs, startups and self-employed persons with a migration background. These organizations arrange regular competitions, networking events, workshops and coaching sessions.
More than 600 Munich startups are registered with and plan an active part in the Munich Startup portal. More than a third come from the IT/technology sector, although startups from the mobility, food, lifestyle and life sciences segments are also well represented.9
Where does Munich's startup community meet?
Munich meetups, conferences, industry get-togethers, events (PDF, 326 KB)
Diary dates (constantly updated) and yearly calendar
Grow strongly in Munich
Munich's economic strength is rooted in a healthy mix of global players and innovative SMEs, all operating in potent and fast-growing industries. For startups on the lookout for customers, partners and funding, the conditions here are ideal:
- Wide range of customers and partners: Munich gives startups access to B2B customers and partners among the ranks of innovative global players, SMEs who are hidden champions, 7 DAX30 companies, 5 MDAX companies, 8 TecDAX companies and 5 SDAX companies.
- As an IT hub, Munich occupies first place in the EU, ahead of Paris and London. 5
- Munich is Germany's top high-tech venue, populated by the industries of tomorrow from IT and biotechnology through medical technology, creative industries/the media to automotive and aerospace.
- Access to top talents: 17 universities offer an impressive area of technology courses. Munich is Germany's second-biggest venue for higher education. Two elite universities plus an array of other universities and research institutions (including the Fraunhofer Society, the Max Planck Society, the German Research Center for Environmental Health and the digitalization center ZD.B) attract highly qualified labor to the Bavarian capital, giving innovative startups in the city enviable access to a large pool of highly specialized experts.
- Munich is home to around 30 established accelerators, incubators and startup centers, e.g. well-established WERK1, gate or IZB.
- Munich's new innovation and business creation centre, the MUNICH URBAN COLAB, will focus on Smart City solutions. To be located just northwest of the very centre, it is scheduled to offer space for 250 startups, a prototype workshop, a café and an event area by 2020.
- Digital Hub Initiative/federal funding in Munich: Since 2016/17, the Mobility Hub and the InsurTech Hub have been supporting innovative startups in these two specific industries.
- Access to technologies: Public research institutions, a strong patent cluster and an excellent academic infrastructure have a formative influence on the Bavarian capital. Here in Munich, some 16,000 people work in university-based R&D, while the corporate sector employees roughly 20,500 R&D professionals.7
The who's and where's of the Munich startup community
List of Munich startups (PDF, 674 KB)
Munich's accelerators, incubators and startup centers (PDF, 196 KB)
Munich startup - Interactive map
Experience on international markets, a sharp focus on research and innovation and a highly dynamic labor market are characteristic attributes of Munich's economic life. For startups intent on continuing to grow and expand abroad, the benefits are obvious:
- Straight from startup to top innovator: A recent brandeins survey of the “Most Innovative Companies in Germany 2018” found that Munich has more innovative firms (64) than any other location in Germany. When looking at this list you can discover “established” startups from the first decade of the century line up alongside numerous more recent Munich startups.6
- Venture capital in Munich: More than 50 venture capital and private equity firms have offices in Munich with dedicated points of contact for startups (list: see ).
- Pitch events: UnternehmerTUM, the LMU Entrepreneurship Center and the Fraunhofer Institute specifically target contact with national and international investors. Conferences such as the Fraunhofer Venture, MUST, BioAngels, BayStartUP Venture Conference, Bits & Pretzels, Venture Wiesn and Cashwalk are forums that bring promising startups and suitable investors together.
- Munich startups lead the way on a national level: In 2017, Munich-based medtech firm inveox ranked first among the top 50 startups in German startup competitions.8
- In Munich, large-scale financing also works well: In the last couple of years, large sums have been acquired by players such as Lilium (EUR 90 m/Sept. 2017), Scalable Capital (EUR 30 m/June 2017), Global Savings Group (EUR 19 m/Oct. 2017), KONUX (EUR 16 m/ April 2017), Userlane (EUR 4 m/March 2018), Cluno (EUR 7 m/April 2018), Fazua (EUR 6.5 m/March 2018), B2X (EUR 6.25 m/March 2018), Clevercity Systems (EUR 10 m/Feb. 2018), FinTecSystems (EUR 4.5 m/Dec. 2017) and FINEWAY (EUR 7 m/Nov 2017).
- Nor is Munich a stranger to IPOs: Munich company Mynaric AG (a specialist for laser-based communication networks) floated shares worth EUR 27.3 million on the stock exchange in October 2017. Another Munich startup, windeln.de, went public in May 2015, and IT startup Celonis is currently planning to follow suit. Other Munich startups that have already launched IPOs include Scout24 Group, Mytheresa and JouleX.
Funding and success in Munich's startup community
Venture capital hub > companies (PDF, 182 KB)
Funding networks (PDF, 63 KB)
Public funding programs (PDF, 147 KB)
Brief portraits of Munich startups (PDF, 382 KB)
... and Munich success stories
Referenced studies and surveys
¹ Source for the number of startups: Deutscher Startup Monitor 2015 - Initiator: Bundesverband Deutscher Startups e.V. (BVDS); publisher: KPMG
² Deutscher Startup Monitor 2017 – Mut und Macher – Initiator: Bundesverband Deutscher Startups e.V. (BVDS); publisher: KPMG.
³ Startup-Unternehmen München, a survey of 450 German startups – 50 of which are headquartered in Munich – conducted by auditing and consulting firm PwC in August 2017.
4 Süddeutsche Zeitung, Ulrich Schäfer: “Stanford, the Bavarian way”, Jan. 24, 2018, Wirtschaft, p. 2.
5 Study of European ICT Hubs, European Commission, 2014.
6 brandeins survey: Die innovativsten Unternehmen Deutschlands 2018 – interaktive Karte und Bestenliste, February 2018.
7 Munich - City of knowledge (2005/currently being updated)
8 Die Top 50 Start-ups des Jahres 2017, Jan. 31, 2018, Für-Gründer.de, Frankfurt Business Media, part of the F.A.Z. publishing group.
9 munich-startup.de is part of the "Entrepreneurship Strategy Munich", a cooperative venture backed by the City of Munich, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria, the higher education association 4Entrepreneurship and other stakeholders in the Munich startup community. See the Munich Annual Economic Report 2017, p. 20.
10 The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2018 (GSER), publisher: Startup Genome, April 17, 2018, pages 180/181.