The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

New start after Corona: Damn it, where did the company founders go?


Germany should make more of its opportunities - that means above all: more of the creativity of young generations. Otherwise we will be left behind by other EU countries in the long term.

Enlarge image

Design on the laptop: Young companies could play a key role

Photo: MoMo Productions / Getty Images

The expectation is in the air that something new is about to come.

Something has to happen, a departure, a change, a U-turn - depending on personal taste and political preference.

But that it cannot go on like this after 16 long years under Angela Merkel, this premonition is the keynote of the warming election campaign.

The restart can almost be felt physically.

The gradual opening after the shutdowns is not only accompanied by a cautious sigh of relief, but also with a hope for purification: the pandemic as catharsis - better from now on.

To the author


Institute for Journalism, TU Dortmund

Henrik Müller

is professor for economic journalism at the Technical University of Dortmund.

Before that, the graduate economist worked as deputy editor-in-chief of manager magazin.

In addition, Müller is the author of numerous books on economic and monetary policy topics.

Every week he gives a pointed outlook on the most important economic events of the week for SPIEGEL.

There are indeed major tasks ahead: the climate crisis is becoming an acute problem that requires effective solutions.

Digitization is about to revolutionize the way we live, work and do business.

The demographic change will be reflected in an accelerated shrinkage of the workforce in the coming years.

The list could go on and on.

It's just that solutions to all of these problems do not come about by themselves - and not solely through political will.

It takes people to devise and drive it.

The need for innovations has seldom been greater.

On Wednesday

the leaders of the German scientific community and some research groups meet for the »Research Summit«.

Angela Merkel is supposed to give a "keynote speech" (for which, funny enough, only ten minutes are planned according to the program, but only marginally).

The event deals with how the German “innovation system” has to change - ultimately with the question of how the new will come into the world in the future.

One serious shortcoming is obvious: there are fewer and fewer companies being set up in Germany (see graphic).

There are currently new companies that are driving structural change, creating new jobs, trying new solutions, and recognizing new needs and requirements.

Under the shiny surface

On the surface, the German innovation system is doing well.

Research and development (R&D) are relatively generously financed by industrial groups and state research institutions;

the expenditure is borne by the private sector and the state in a ratio of two thirds to one third.

When it comes to patent applications, Germany ranks among the leaders internationally.

And the fact that two young German companies (Biontech from Mainz and Curevac from Tübingen) have vaccines with the new mRNA technology at the start during the corona pandemic seems to underline the efficiency of the local system.

more on the subject

CureVac and BioNTech: This is how the race for vaccine billionaires goes by Dietmar Palan

But cracks appear beneath this shiny surface.

The R&D expenditures are mainly borne by large corporations in traditional industries, first and foremost the automotive industry, whose future is questioned in view of the abandonment of the combustion engine.

Private venture capital for technology-intensive start-ups is scarce in this country;

The success stories of Biontech and Curevac are based not least on the personal financial commitment of some wealthy entrepreneurs of the older generation, in particular Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann (ex-Hexal) and Dietmar Hopp (ex-SAP).

While the US competitor Moderna has so much capital available that it can now produce and sell mRNA vaccines on its own, the German start-ups need financially strong pharmaceutical companies as partners.

Old society, young companies

The universities form the basis for technology-intensive company start-ups. Founders and employees often come directly from the university. But their budgets are not exactly generous: The financial resources have not kept pace with the increasing number of students for years: Per student spending has decreased by 1.3 percent annually in the past decade, according to the OECD.

Germany spends significantly less money on young academics than comparable countries. And it could become even less in the coming years: If the "debt brake" takes effect again and the federal states have to switch to savings after having overcome the Corona crisis, the funds for universities and colleges should also be affected. But that means fewer positions for young scientists in the foreseeable future. The personal reservoir from which start-ups draw is dwindling.

Start-up activities at universities are already suffering from limited basic funding, as the “founding radar” of the Stifterverband confirms. Young companies in the university atmosphere are predominantly dependent on temporary third-party funding. It is difficult to attract employees with this money. The consequences: »high staff turnover, insecurity, no sustainable follow-up of ideas and structures and constant restart«. After all, the universities are increasingly trying to spin-offs, according to the report. In 2019, the surveyed universities recorded 2,176 new companies in their area; In 2012 there were only 1145.

It looks like Germany could make more of its opportunities - and that means above all: the productivity and creativity of the younger generations.

An “Agenda 2030” would be needed in order to preserve the productive energy of this aging society.

Young companies could play a key role in this.

Good times, bad founders?

It's not just about high-tech start-ups, venture capital and multi-billion dollar IPOs.

The start-up activity has been waning for many years.

There are fewer and fewer young companies and fewer bankruptcies (see graphic).

On balance, there is less trying out, and social dynamism is waning.

For a decade and a half, the number of business registrations has followed a falling trend.

The start-up intensity in this country is now below the EU average.

Comparable countries such as France, the Netherlands or Great Britain have significantly higher values.


Short-circuit policy: How permanent outrage destroys our democracy

Author: Henrik Müller

Editor: Piper

Number of pages: 256

Author: Henrik Müller

Editor: Piper

Number of pages: 256

Buy for € 22.00

Price query time

May 16, 2021 1:20 p.m.

No guarantee

Order from Amazon

Order from Thalia

Product reviews are purely editorial and independent.

Via the so-called affiliate links above, we usually receive a commission from the dealer when making a purchase.

More information here

In the Corona year 2020, the number of business start-ups fell even further: by 4.5 percent.

In the first few months of this year, too, no trend reversal can be seen, as current information from the Federal Statistical Office shows.

After all, the number of part-time businesses increased significantly in 2020, i.e. of people trying to become self-employed in parallel to normal employment.

The German reluctance to engage in entrepreneurship stands in remarkable contrast to the dynamism in the USA, Great Britain or France, where the Corona crisis has triggered a start-up boom.

Of course, the German deficit results in part from a favorable labor market for many years. The last increase in start-up activity occurred during the 2008/09 crisis. The economic recovery in the following decade ensured that established companies grew and increased their workforces. Younger employees with good training could hardly save themselves from job offers in the pre-Corona years. The stressful risk of founding a company appeared correspondingly unattractive.

Entrepreneurship in this country is also hampered by a cumbersome public administration.

Bureaucratic hurdles make it unnecessarily difficult for company founders to get into business;

In the World Bank's "Ease of starting a business" ranking, Germany currently ranks 125th - far behind the Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon countries, but also behind France.

We shouldn't be satisfied with that.

The most important business dates of the week ahead

Open assembly area

Beijing -

China on the rise

- New figures for industrial production and retail sales.

Business figures I

- from Ryanair.

Expand Tuesday area

Luxembourg / Tokyo -

On the road to recovery?

- The statisticians of the EU and Japan present new figures on the development of the gross domestic product in the first quarter.




- from Generali, Vodofone, Home Depot, Walmart, Macy's.

Expand Wednesday area

Berlin -

New Start

- Research Summit 2021 (online): What is needed for a sustainable innovation system in Germany?

Also present: Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor

Business figures III

- from Porsche SE, Cisco, Target.

Expand Thursday area

Brussels -

Europe as a world

trading power - The EU trade ministers discuss the future trade strategy and the status of negotiations on the WTO reform.

In addition, it is also about trade relations with the USA.

Reykjavik -

Who Owns the North Pole?

- Ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council under the Icelandic Presidency.

In the course of climate change, the Arctic is gaining more and more geopolitical importance as a shipping route and as a mining region.

The foreign ministers of the United States and Russia, Blinken and Lavrov, have announced themselves to the meeting.

Washington -

US Business Cycle

- New


to the initial applications for unemployment benefit.

The US labor market had caused unpleasant surprises in the previous week.

Open area Friday

Rome -

Corona and the Consequences

- G20 Global Health Summit under Italian Presidency.

Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2021-05-17

You may like

Trends 24h

Business 2021-06-23T22:59:15.458Z


© Communities 2019 - Privacy