Peek into Germany’s Green Start-up Scene
21 Nov 2015

Peek into Germany’s Green Start-up Scene

I think I’ve found the key to Germany’s economic strength.

On Thursday I infiltrated the Bundesministerium für Umwelt (the German Federal Ministry for the Environment).

In the depths of its halls I received a fortune cookie from a man named Herr Maus.

Having devoured the missive’s protective casing, I held the thin strip of paper up to the light.

“Dieser Keks hat magische Kräfte: Wer ihn isst, wird erfolgreich gründen!”

Or, in English:

“This cookie has magic powers: Whoever eats it, will successfully start a business!”

Given the identity of those around me, this powerful prognosis will likely prove accurate in many cases.

I was in the ministry to attend the award presentation of the 2015 StartGreen Awards, an event held to promote the growth of German start-ups and start-up support organisations in climate protection and sustainability.

This week is Global Entrepreneurship Week, or, here, “Gründerwoche Deutschland“.

What I found was a wide array of regional, national and specialised green innovation accelerator representatives, as well as entrepreneurial finalists with offerings ranging from fairtrade, sustainable condoms, to ultra-energy efficient data center cooling technology.

I really recommend reading about the winners.

One of my favourites has to be Sulfotools; an interdisciplinary team which has found a way to make the toxic process of peptide production both cleaner and cheaper (watch their cute introductory video in German).

Other winners Sonnen-Batterie and Emission Partner are helping solve issues holding the clean energy shift back.

To me, the significance goes beyond such nevertheless commendable advances, to the concerted effort the German government appears to be making to encourage local Gründers in this field.

Gründerwoche - start-ups and the sweet, sweet taste of success.

Gründerwoche – start-ups and the sweet, sweet taste of success.

This is important in risk-adverse Germany, where the stigma of start-up failure is still an intimidating spectre.

Just think; if German start-up companies were able to create 745,000 full-time equivalent job positions in 2014, an increase of 140,000 on the previous year, what advances could we see in green innovation if green Gründers were to make up a larger portion of this inspiring figure?

It may be too late to influence the outcome of the COP21 climate conference, which kicks off in Paris at the end of this month. (…Or is it? Did you know you can participate virtually?)

But it’s not too late to support the development of a green economy.

And as for my fortune cookie-fuelled start-up?

You might just have to wait and see, but perhaps I can start by exporting some of these magic fortune cookies…

In the meantime, where are you reading this, and what kind of support do you have for green start-ups where you are?

About the Author:Joe Dodgshun

Brand storytelling consultant creating stories to scale solutions in social enterprise, cleantech, climate action & responsible travel. What's your story?

2 Responses to Peek into Germany’s Green Start-up Scene

  1. I am reading from a little shithole known as Gießen. Germany needs to look more into sustainability, as with its population size vs natural resources, it is, like almost every country in the EU, not sustainable without help from outside resources.

    • Agreed there and there’s so much more potential for renewable energy production than is currently happening, although that’s probably looking at it from more of a political perspective, rather than technical or entrepreneurial one. On the other hand, projects such as those of winners Sonnen-Batterie and Emission Partner are at least helping solve issues holding the clean energy shift back, which in turn makes it easier to sell in political circles.

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