Ecosystem Pulse with StartHub Hessen
Ecosystem Pulse is a a periodical section, in which we invite key stakeholders from the Frankfurt Rhein-Main Startup ecosystem to give their highlights, analysis, inputs, comments, predictions, and share their expertise on relevant industry topics.
On our second publication, we gathered with the StartHub Hessen/Hessen Trade & Invest GmbH team to deep-dive on their platform goals, milestones and future actions. Find it all bellow.
Can you guide us a bit, on what´s the role of StartHub Hessen within our ecosystem?
StartHub Hessen is a neutral platform for startups in Hesse and all the other players involved in our ecosystem. Our main goal is to provide an overview of the opportunities and possible partners in our ecosystem who can help to deal with their current challenges.
When was the task-force built and the biggest milestones achieved?
We started as a team of four in April 2020 — right at the beginning of the pandemic. We quickly tried to get in touch with startups to grasp a feeling of their pain points and biggest challenges that were brought by the pandemic. So we hosted a virtual townhall event, our first milestone, in June, with Secretary of State Philipp Nimmermann.
Getting a sense of the state of the ecosystem and its needs is our most important task — which is why we wanted to get a data based overview in addition to the learnings from our virtual townhall event. We partnered with Bundesverband Deutsche Startups e.V. and published the first ever Hessen Startup Monitor. It’s one of the first studies to cover the entire state as well as the entire startup ecosystem and all of its business sectors.
The biggest milestone so far has been the start of our new ecosystem platform, where we give an overview of potential partners in our ecosystem, government aids, news and events in our region.
Regarding the Hessen Startup Monitor 2021, what are your most important takeaways?
People and talents are the biggest assets any startup has. That’s our most important lesson from the Hessen Startup Monitor. Hessen has a largely built educational landscape with 38 universities and also the largest number of university students relative to the population. This leads to two great outcomes: A large number of professionals as well as a high quality of innovative technologies and science-based product development. The study also revealed strengths and weaknesses regarding financing and funding. While government aids are a good source of capital for startups in Hessen, there is still a long way to go regarding venture capital. We’re trying to figure out how we can increase venture capital investment in Hessen and how we can support startups who are looking for investment capital.
Are there any actions, initiatives and plans to work on the identified needs or points to improve?
We try to support startups by connecting them with the right partners. Identifying the right partners is, from what we learned in our ecosystem workshops, one of the main issues. More than that, it is our mission to be the link between startups and politics. Being that, we’re working on further developing the Startup Initiative Hessen, which will be published in its second version this summer. This will set the frame for developing a holistic strategy to support startups. Some goals are already very clear, e.g. supporting and increasing VC investments — which is a long term project.
Especially around the Corona topic, how do you think 2021 will turn-out to our ecosystem?
If Covid-19 has proven one thing, it’s the startups’ ability to adapt to changes in markets and surroundings. Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, there were lots of worries about a potential extinction of startups — which luckily never happened. Instead we watched lots of founders change and adapt their business models, develop new products and overcome the massive threats of the pandemic. From this experience, we think 2020 and 2021 might have been an important lesson in the importance of agility, flexibility and quick innovations. We hope to see the ecosystem develop new, innovative products and solutions to tackle the challenges brought by the pandemic. Even more than that, we expect to see changes in the way startups and the rest of the world work together. Startups have always been playing an important role in inventing new ways of working and new business models, which the rest of the business world adapted later on.
Any advice or tips for Founders regarding ways to maximize the offers that StartHub Hessen has?
We offer one to one consulting sessions and provide general assistance as well as information regarding means of public funding. However, founders should have an idea of their business model and should be able to explain their key ideas and to outline their business. It’s important for us to understand in order to evaluate their needs and next steps. Also: keep in mind we’re open to every industry and technology, but we’re no scientists. Make sure to be able to explain your business or product in easy words; if we’re not able to understand what you’re doing, an investor or public funding committee likely won’t be able either. Most of all, you should take a minute to think about your biggest challenges and issues at the moment so we can take it from there.