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Make Tempelhof Airport a startup hub – and other McKinsey tips for the Berlin Senate Written by Michelle Kuepper on 8. October 2013


A study by management consulting firm McKinsey has found that Berlin has the best conditions to become Europe’s leading startup hub and suggested ways to improve it, including setting up a central startup campus, possibly at Tempelhof Airport.

The study, undertaken for the Berlin Senate, claims that by 2020 startups could create over 100,000 new jobs in the city. The consulting firm proposed five initiatives to improve the startup scene here, most notably turning Berlin’s iconic abandoned Tempelhof Airport into a startup hub. Berlin’s Mayor, Klaus Wowereit, is all for the idea – he told Berliner Morgenpost that the airport is “a symbolic place that could help create a brand for the Berlin startup scene”.

Wowereit isn’t the only senator gunning to convert the landmark into a startup hub – in June this year, CDU Economics Senator Cornelia Yzer also promoted the idea. She was, however, quick to assure that the vast grassy grounds surrounding the airport buildings would remain a recreational area.

It’s worth noting that no mention of Factory, Berlin’s aspiring startup hub which is currently being constructed to house startups such as 6Wunderkinder, Zendesk, Soundcloud and Mozilla, appeared in a summary of McKinsey’s results.

The study concluded that if Berlin provides more support for founders and talents, more access to capital for founders in the growth phase and provides a better network for startup with established businesses in Berlin, the German capital could rise above comparable startup hubs such as London, Tel Aviv, Paris and Moscow.

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A rundown of the five proposals:

  • A new era for founding companies: Universities should do more to promote and encourage students to found companies. A curriculum on entrepreneurship could provide better organisation and help pool startup activities.
  • A one-stop agency: Startups should receive more support from the Senate – a multi-language startup service agency should be set up along with an online portal offering information on where to go for bureaucratic processes.
  • A startup campus: A centrally-located startup hub should be created to house established business, startups and VCs. “The former Tempelhof airport could be an attractive option,” the report suggests.
  • A new startup fund: A €100m private fund should be set up to finance startups that are seeking over €3m – corporates and mid-sized companies should provide the cash.
  • A founder network: The Senate should launch a task-force to bring together established companies with startups.

The news comes after the Investitionsbank Berlin presented its study on the Berlin startup scene, stating that every 20 hours a new internet business is founded in Berlin. It claimed the startup industry was boosting the city’s economy, its revenue almost rivalling that of the tourism industry.

Image credit: Flickr user Epiphonication

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