berlin silicon valley

Is Berlin the New Silicon Valley?

Here’s why young people are flocking to Berlin.

A new start-up opens in Berlin every twenty minutes, and the country is forecast to have created 100,000 new jobs by 2020. Why Berlin? How is the city energizing a new generation of entrepreneurs? Only 25 years ago, the city was skewed into two distinct parts – the Communist East and the Capitalist West. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city has become known for its creative mash-up identity – part of which has stemmed from its turbulent social and political history. Is this what’s driving the explosion of great ideas in the German capital?

London’s Silicon Roundabout, Europe’s former start-up epicentre, is being fast overshadowed by Berlin. And London might just have been victim to its own success. As the cost of living has led many to seek a better quality of life abroad, entrepreneurs from Britain and beyond have set up shop in Berlin. Why?

london silicon roundabout

Well, relatively speaking, it’s cheap. Berlin has just become the first German city to enforce rent controls. No matter how busy or wealthy the city becomes, landlords are banned from raising the price of rent higher than ten percent above the local average. How many other global creative hubs put their citizens before profit? Is this the most effective way to keep a city authentic? And is authenticity one of the big driving forces behind the entrepreneurial explosion?

Look at New York – millennials might dream of moving there, but how many can realistically afford to? Berlin takes the financial heat off of entrepreneurs that are just starting out, giving them more time to work out their ideas and the best method of execution.

New York Skyline

Berlin is also unique in that it has mastered the co-working space. From Beta Haus to Agora Collective to mobilesuite, the city’s bursting with trendy, designated spaces to network, socialize, and get down to business. These spaces are key in fostering the integrated culture of work-life balance that are crucial to start ups. They are also giving entrepreneurs organic opportunities to share ideas within the startup scene.

Rocket Internet, the company-building tech company, has already got a loan portfolio value of almost €10 billion. Apps with a more general appeal are booming too – GoButler, the 24/7 personal assistant, or Wooga, the games developer start-up -- have all sprouted from Berlin.

So, does it all come down to quality of life? Does entrepreneurship blossom where the state takes after its people? How important is a thriving start-up scene to energizing new talent? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


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