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.
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).
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.
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?