German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Berlin startups “the yeast that makes the industry grow” at a special reception held in the city last night.
The event, named “Internet and Start-ups in Deutschland” gathered together the most influential members of the startup and digital community of Berlin and beyond, and was the final stop in a day-long startup tour for Chancellor Merkel who earlier visited the HQs of Wooga and ResearchGate. She was joined at the reception by Federal Minister for Economics and Technology Philipp Rösler.
“Not yet friends”…
Chancellor Merkel also stated that the visit signalled a new relationship with the tech industry, and hinted that there had been a certain lack of discourse before: “Meine Damen und Herren… Ich will lieber nicht gleich so weit gehen und ‘liebe Freunde’ sagen, man muss sich ja vorsichtig annähern.” [Ladies and Gentlemen…I’d rather not go so far and to say “dear friends” straight away. You have to be cautious when approaching one another].
The event was organised at the express request of the Chancellor following a closed meeting with digital industry leaders including Christophe Maire, Marco Boerries, Joachim Schoss, Klaus Hommels, Frank Thelen and Lars Hinrichs in June 2012. Founder of Xing and driving force behind the event Hinrichs told VentureVillage: “It was one of my recommendations when we met her last year, that we organise an event for the Chancellor to meet and address the startup scene here.”
“One can be happy” in Berlin
Chancellor Merkel went on to address the attendees, including representatives from well-known Berlin businesses such as EyeEm, Amen, TapeTV, Team Europe, ResearchGate and Wooga: “Sie sind die Hefe, mit der sich die ganze Branche entwickelt” [You are the yeast that makes the whole industry grow]. Although there were no major announcements, Merkel did recognise the need for a “welcoming culture” for non-German workers while at Wooga, and pointed to a route of even more potential for the startup scene in Germany, saying that both the country and Europe “needs to get better”.
She told the attendant crowd, thought to employ 127,000 people and have revenues of €21 billion in total, that Berlin plays a major role in startup development, as a place where “one can be happy”. At the same time she also pointed out that the EU as a whole should seek to establish a common founder culture to compete on a global scale.