Investment in Berlin startups jumped by €1 billion this year, study shows

Venture capital investments in German startups hit a record level in the first half of 2017, with Berlin seeing a huge rise in funding for its startup scene, a new report shows.
Funding rounds for startups in Germany and the overall value of funding hit record levels in the first six months of this year, a report released this month by professional services firm EY reveals.

Investment Capital Berlin - Source: EY

The total number of investments in German startups rose by 6 percent in comparison with the same period in 2016, to 264.

But the really explosive growth was seen in the overall size of investment. In the first half of this year, €2.163 billion of investors’ money went into startups, an increase of roughly €1.2 billion in comparison with the first half of 2016.

That growth was mainly driven by the e-commerce sector. At €939 million, over 40 percent of overall funding went into e-commerce. But health, FinTech and software startups all saw significant investment growth.

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Berlin’s not perfect, but Samsung is right: it’s more fun than London

Felix Petersen, managing director of Samsung Next Europe, reportedly says that his company will not set up its headquarters in London. It’s just “not a fun place to live unless you are really rich”, is the rationale. Instead, Petersen and colleagues will set up shop in Berlin, hoping to find a home that is both far more enjoyable and affordable.

Club in Berlin - Photograph: Christian Jungeblodt for the Guardian

As a Berliner, I can give Petersen some idea of what he can expect.

Certainly, there are things to say about London, where I lived for 14 years before moving to Berlin. The last time I was there, very recently, a signal failure saw the cancellation of all trains between Paddington and Slough in the very middle of rush hour. No rail replacement bus services were arranged: people were simply expected to trek home with the aid of suddenly exorbitant taxi fares. For one of the most expensive transport systems in the world, there didn’t seem to be much bang for your buck. It seemed to be a fitting metaphor for a town apparently desperate to become Geneva-on-Thames.

One can see why Petersen’s eye might settle on Berlin, for it has long been seen as a mecca for tech startups, with its lower costs allowing them to recruit and retain young talent. Samsung’s arrival may mark a greater maturity of that market, allowing younger companies to rebase in a capital more easily accessible than London or San Francisco.

Petersen and colleagues will find much to love in Berlin. There are parks, lakes and forests within a short train ride, nightclubs on which the sun never sets. There are theatres, food markets, streets of endless bars.

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The party city grows up: how Berlin’s clubbers built their own urban village

What if a city allowed a huge regeneration project to be led, not by the wealthiest property developer, but by the club owners who put on the best parties in town? With the opening of Holzmarkt, Berlin is about to find out

For the first decade of the 21st century, the industrial wasteland between Berlin’s Ostbahnhof station and the river Spree was earmarked for a huge urban regeneration project – one that would show that the German capital could keep up with London and New York. Where flowing water had once marked the divide between communist and capitalist spheres of influence were to be a phalanx of high-rise blocks made of shiny glass, some of them 80 metres tall, containing luxury apartments, hotels and offices.

But tomorrow, that same 12,000m2 patch of land will open with an altogether different look: an urban village made of recycled windows, secondhand bricks and scrap wood, containing among other things a studio for circus acrobats, a children’s theatre, a cake shop and a nursery where parents can drop off their children while they go clubbing next door. There’s even a landing stage for beavers.

The Holzmarkt development is the result of an unprecedented experiment in a major world capital: what if a city allowed a new quarter to be built not by the highest bidding property developers or the urban planners with the highest accolades, but the nightclub owners who put on the best parties in town?

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Entrepreneurs, Academics & Entrepreneurial Academics succeed in Berlin

With Berlin’s plethora of life science research and academia, opportunities abound for biotech entrepreneurs. Here’s how the city bridges the gap between science and business!

So much research, so many opportunities for academics and entrepreneurs. Berlin boasts 35 large research institutions focused on life sciences, and around 130 hospitals — including Europe’s largest and most renowned university hospital, Charité. The research clout of Berlin described through quantity is impressive on its own, and the city has the quality to match.

Two German institutions dominating the Nature Index as some of the most prolific publishers in the magazine count with institutes in Berlin: the Max Planck Society, number four on the list, claims Institutes of Infection Biology and Molecular Genomics, and the Helmholtz Association, number eight, has the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine. In fact, our editor, Evelyn, was inspired by Berlin’s top-notch research to move here from New York City for a PhD in chemistry and chemical biology at the Freie Universität!

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WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT BERLIN AFTER A DAY OF MEETUPS

Berlin is the fourth largest Meetup city in Europe and one of its fastest growing cities globally. Madhvi Ramani spent an entire day Meetup-hopping to gain a unique view into Berlin and its inhabitants.

It’s 8:30 a.m. and I’m riding the U-Bahn. It’s crowded – at least, as crowded as it gets in Berlin. Everyone is able to hang on to a few inches of personal space as well as their dignity. Still, their rush hour demeanours are familiar: harassed, grim, preoccupied with smart phones and tablets.

I feel smug in my yoga pants, because my day promises to be anything but monotonous. I’ve signed up to an entire day of Meetups – events organised via the social networking website that brings people with similar interests together.

Since the site’s 2002 launch in New York, Meetups can be found all over the globe – but for some reason, Berlin is one of its fastest growing cities. Since its first Meetup was mooted in 2008, it has become the fourth largest city in Europe. What does that say about the city? I’m here to find out.

( . . . )

This, the React Native Meetup is the biggest I’ve been to all day, with almost 300 attendees. Tech Meetups are a popular way for developers and designers to network, and are heavily linked to the city’s burgeoning start-up culture, of which Zalando is one of the major successes. Nearly 30 per cent of all Berlin Meetups are now tech-related.

Officially we’re here to listen some presentations about using React Native, an open-source JavaScript library. Most attendees, however, seem more interested in the boxes of free pizza that are up for grabs. I cram slice after slice into my mouth as my neighbour says that the pizza provided by the Meetups of Berlin-based online bank N26 is better. Some people, it seems, are here with a single agenda – and I might be one of them, as I notice the curiosity and openness I started my day with are gone. As the speaker from Soundcloud begins to talk about using the framework for app prototyping, I lose interest and wander off to the loo.

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Germany Is Building a Wall to Protect the Berlin Wall

An effort to limit damage done to the Cold War landmark by tourists.

Souvenier-seeking tourists have done serious damage to the Berlin Wall, leaving Germany with no choice: A wall in front of the wall will be erected in summer 2018, to protect the landmark structure from further vandalism, reports the Art Newspaper.

This isn’t the first time the idea of a protective barrier in front of the Berlin Wall has been raised. In November 2015, authorities of Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, home to the “East Side Gallery” section of the wall, which is covered in murals created in 1990, announced plans to erect a permanent protective fence.

The wall, a designated heritage site, was erected in 1961, dividing citizens of West Berlin from the rest of the city and the surrounding East Germany until November 9, 1989. The wall began coming down in June 1990, but parts of the structure were left intact as a monument.

(…)

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Look out, London. Berlin’s startup scene is ready for a Brexit bonanza

Startups that previously looked to London are being wooed by Berlin’s fast-developing scene. But can Germany capitalise on Brexit uncertainty?

At a co-working space on Friedrichstraße, Berlin’s startup economy is getting ready for Brexit. Mindspace’s first location in Germany, opened in April 2016, sits in the heart of Berlin’s Mitte district, flanked by high-end fashion shops and perfumeries. Its walls are adorned with hand-stencilled signs directing people, in English, to the “yummy kitchen” and “awesome offices”. It feels exactly like the startup scene in London – and that’s deliberate. What London stands to lose after Brexit, Berlin hopes to gain.

(…)

“Berlin is starting to be considered as a startup ecosystem, particularly targeting the tech startup scene,” says Nijvenko. The company’s “official language”, she explains, is English. All signs, documents and posts on the community’s private Facebook group are auf Englisch. Its co-working spaces bare an uncanny resemblance to a template Silicon Valley, faux-hipster style – superfluous clocks; plush, well-worn armchairs; Communist-era televisions; and work from local artists adorn almost every remaining inch of space. Around 760 members pay between €250 and €450 per month (£215 and £390) to use the space, with the two additional sites in Berlin upping capacity to more than 2,000 people. Business is booming. “The political incentives right now are targeting the startup ecosystem. Berlin is very affordable, so for startups it’s the best place to be,” says Nijvenko.

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Berlin Workers seeking Home away from Home

Short term employment contracts on the rise as Berlin booms
Millenial contract workers seeking home comforts face reduced options since AirBnB ban

An interesting survey was recently conducted by a travel expenses company showing that alternative options for business travel were becoming increasingly popular and that Berlin was the fifth most popular business travel destination across all cities in the UK, France and Germany.

Given that we are in a day of disruptive innovation, it is no surprise that workers, as much as tourists, want to stay in less conventional accommodation or locations when they travel and use platforms such as AirBnB to find them.

It might be for the home comforts of a bedroom, lounge and kitchen or to get a better sense of the area in which they’re staying. It may simply be to save money. Unfortunately for Berlin, these options have been on the decline since the restrictions brought in last year, making it harder for short term contractors looking for a home away from home.

There is a real possibility that the city of Berlin will become the victim of this change. It’s a burgeoning city with falling unemployment, a rising population, strong educational facilities and significant investment into the city’s infrastructure. The tech companies are arriving and booming, new industries are opening up; as a united city it is still in its infancy, but we mustn’t forget that it is a capital city and to fuel its growth it needs to provide flexible solutions to maintain social mobility and give entrepreneurial companies the opportunity to grow.

This means, as much as anything, providing affordable accommodation for short term workers, often drafted in to fill skills gaps for specific projects or corporate objectives. The recent survey made it clear that whilst hotels were still popular, the demand for alternatives from Millenials in particular, is driving a booming market in alternative business accommodation.

Hotels, as much as they try to evolve, still lack basic home comforts. Hotels will forever sit firmly on the side of tourism and short-term travel, not residence, and many young contract workers want to feel as if they are living in the real Berlin, in a comfortable apartment that has been furnished like home, with their own food in the fridge, neighbours to speak to and local amenities to enjoy. If Berlin doesn’t fill the gap in supply for such accommodation, Berlin’s industries will struggle to bring in the talent they need for the time they need it. Six months of living in a hotel is not what many workers want these days, not to mention the exorbitant cost for the company.

Companies like AirBnB have launched into business travel successfully but Berlin’s restrictions are making it harder for the city’s companies to house short term workers. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that many landlords are seemingly unaware of the option available to them to provide short term, furnished accommodation to the city’s workers through alternative means, such as Buy Berlin’s Corporate Furnished Service.

If landlords fully furnish their apartments, they can be rented out to companies seeking fixed, short term rental contracts for their employees. The tenancy agreement is different to your standard tenancy, allowing landlords to have more control over their property and the rental price. It is a highly successful model that benefits all parties involved and is proving particularly popular in city centre districts and those located near to major project hubs, such as the airport.

BuyBerlin

Buy Berlin Investments is an independent property company that provides turnkey services to global investors, both individual and institutional, who wish to purchase real estate in Germany’s capital city, Berlin.

Established over ten years ago, the company recently expanded into Asia with the opening of its Hong Kong office, providing on the ground customer service in English, German and Chinese.

BuyBerlin supports its clients every step of the way – it seeks the very best properties, assists investors through the intricacies of financing, taxation and German legalities, and provides ongoing asset management in the form of property management, rentals, furnishings and eventual resale.

Berlin’s AirBnB landlords find alternative option for lettings

Corporate furnished letting service is ideal for landlords with city centre apartments affected by the crackdown on short term rentals
Tenancy contracts from three months plus higher yields make this an attractive alternative


It has been nearly nine months since the Berlin government initiated a ban on the majority of short term rentals in the country’s capital. The ban was deemed necessary to help manage what was seen to be Berlin’s escalating rental prices and to support the city’s hotel industry, for which the likes of AirBnB and Wimdu were getting the blame.

With approximately 12,000 rooms available at the time, the vast majority were concentrated in the most popular districts of Berlin, the same areas where many short term workers seek convenient apartments whist working in the city.

Darrell Smith, founder and director of estate agency Buy Berlin, explains that workers who are forced to stay in hotels or serviced apartments for the duration of their contract are the ones suffering the most from this change. “Having a place to stay that feels like home when you’re working in different cities around the world is what online platforms such as AirBnB were so effective at supplying. Despite the new legislation, these apartments can still be made available. What many landlords do not realise is that they can offer their furnished apartments to professional tenants on a short-term basis without facing the rental price restrictions of long-term contracts and can earn considerably more income as a result.”

There are significant benefits to this model; landlords can charge whatever rent they feel is appropriate. As an example, a typical one bedroom apartment of 55 square metres would generate EUR1,375 per month, nearly double what an equivalent unfurnished apartment would fetch. The contracts can be from three months to one year and the rent is packaged with a mandatory monthly clean, which the tenant must pay for.

Buy Berlin has seen a sharp increase in enquiries for corporate lets as Berlin continues to grow as an economic powerhouse, drawing in more business and more people. Smith continues, “Expatriates are looking for centrally located properties which are renovated or in very good condition and vary in size from 30 square metres to 100 square metres. Typically they work for multinational companies (CAC 40, Fortune 500) that often pay the rent for the tenants. We also work with relocation companies on behalf of their clients, and film companies are frequently in contact given that Babelsburg film studio is so near to Berlin.”

The most popular apartments are those found in the most centrally located districts such as Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf.

Berlin’s AirBnB Vermieter finden eine Alternative

Möblierter Vermietungsservice für Berufstätige ist ideal für Vermieter mit City-Center-Wohnungen, die von der Regulierung kurzfristiger Vermietungen betroffen sind.
Mietverträge ab drei Monaten und höhere Erträge machen dies zu einer attraktiven Alternative.


Es ist nun fast neun Monate her, seitdem die Berliner Regierung ein Verbot fast aller kurzfristigen Vermietungen in der Bundeshauptstadt ausgesprochen hat (Zweckentfremdungsgesetz). Dieses Verbot wurde als notwendig angesehen, um dabei zu helfen, die Hotelindustrie der Stadt zu stützen und die Berliner Mietpreise zu regulieren. Hierbei wurde in der Hauptsache die Nutzung von bereits jetzt schon zu knappen Wohnraum für kurzfristige Vermietungen, z.B. an Touristen unterbunden, für deren Eskalation unter anderem die Vermietungsportale AirBnB und Wimdu mitverantwortlich gemacht wurden. Das große Ziel dieses Gesetzes soll sein, den vorhandenen Wohnraum auch allen Mietern langfristig zur Verfügung zu stellen, um so den chronischen Wohnraummangel in Berlin einzudämmen.

Die überwiegende Mehrheit der zur damaligen Zeit etwa 12.000 verfügbaren Zimmer konzentrierte sich auf die beliebtesten Bezirke Berlins und wurde größtenteils an Touristen vermietet. Diese Gebiete sind die Gleichen, in denen viele Pendler möblierte Wohnungen während ihrer Beschäftigung in der Stadt suchen.

Darrell Smith, Gründer und Direktor des Immobilienbüros BuyBerlin Investments, erklärt, dass Berufstätige, die für die Dauer ihres Arbeitsverhältnisses gezwungen sind, in Hotels oder möblierten Wohnungen unterzukommen, diejenigen sind, die am meisten unter dieser Veränderung leiden. “Einen Raum zu haben, der sich wie ein zu Hause anfühlt, wenn man in verschiedenen Städten auf der ganzen Welt arbeitet, ist, was Online-Plattformen wie AirBnB so gezielt anbieten können. Trotz der neuen Gesetzgebung können diese Wohnungen noch verfügbar gemacht werden. Was viele Vermieter nicht wissen, ist, dass sie deutlich mehr Einnahmen erzielen können, indem sie ihre möblierten Wohnungen kurzfristig berufstätigen Mietern anbieten, ohne dabei von Mietpreisbeschränkungen langfristiger Verträge betroffen zu sein.”

Es gibt erhebliche Vorteile für dieses Modell, unter anderem können Vermieter jegliche Miete verlangen, die sie als angemessen betrachten. Als Beispiel würde eine typische Ein-Zimmer-Wohnung mit einem 55m² Schlafzimmer EUR 1.375,00 pro Monat Miete kosten; fast doppelt so viel als eine gleichwertige unmöblierte Wohnung kosten würde. Die Verträge können von drei Monaten bis zu einem Jahr dauern und der Mietvertrag kann auch eventuelle Service-Leistungen, wie z.B. eine obligatorische monatliche Wohnungsreinigung, für die der Mieter zu zahlen hat, enthalten.

BuyBerlin Investments verzeichnet einen starken Anstieg von Anfragen für Vermietungen an Berufstätige, während Berlin weiterhin als wirtschaftliches Zentrum wächst, welches immer mehr Unternehmen und Menschen anzieht. Smith fährt fort: “Auch Auswanderer suchen nach zentral gelegenen Immobilien, die renoviert oder in sehr gutem Zustand sind und in der Größe zwischen 30m² bis 100m² variieren. Meist arbeiten diese für multinationale Unternehmen (CAC 40, Fortune 500), die oft die Miete für Ihre auswärtigen Angestellten zahlen. Wir arbeiten hier z.B. mit Umsiedlungsgesellschaften, die im Namen ihrer Kunden agieren, aber auch Filmfirmen sind häufig mit uns in Kontakt, da das Babelsberger Filmstudio so nah an Berlin ist.”

Die beliebtesten Appartements liegen in den zentral gelegenen Bezirken wie Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, Charlottenburg oder Wilmersdorf.

Scotland to set up Berlin office to boost trade links after Brexit

By Elisabeth O’Leary
GLASGOW, Scotland Oct 15 (Reuters) – Scotland will set up a trade office in Berlin, boosting its trade departments in readiness for all possibilities, including Scottish independence, after Britain leaves the EU, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will say on Saturday.
The Scottish National Party leader has raised the nation’s profile since June’s European Union referendum in Britain, seizing on a new openness towards Scotland in Europe since most of its population voted to remain in the bloc.
Britain as a whole, however, voted to leave, a clash which has reignited talk of a split between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, even though Scots rejected separation just two years ago.
“Creating jobs, expanding the economy and growing tax revenues – these priorities must be at the centre of everything we do,” Sturgeon will tell the SNP conference at its close, according to a draft of her speech.
She will add that economic stability is threatened by the prospect of the UK leaving the European single market, taking Scotland with it. Scotland wants to keep as many of the advantages of single market membership as it can, even if Britain leaves, and is looking for a bespoke deal with London to do so.
British ministers have suggested that the UK could leave the EU’s single market for goods and services to let them reimpose stronger control over their borders. The comments have driven the pound to its lowest level in three decades.
Sturgeon will say that in order to protect business in Scotland, the devolved government will set up a board of trade, a new trade envoy scheme, expand its Scottish enterprise agency and establish a Scottish trade hub in Berlin.
Business minister Keith Brown has said that he has seen a more neutral stance from businesses who were opposed to independence in the past but are supportive of Scotland’s desire to stay in the single market.
“After the (political) mess that has followed the (Brexit) vote, business is desperate for clarity and leadership,” Kate Forbes, a Scottish lawmaker at the conference, told Reuters.
She said that businesses are positioning themselves for all options after Brexit.
Sturgeon announced on Thursday that the Scottish government would publish a blueprint next week for a possible new independence vote. However, she has not said if or when the bill would be presented formally to the Edinburgh parliament.
Support for independence has barely moved since Scots rejected it by a 10 point margin two years ago. But the conference supported a motion on Friday which said Scotland “should prepare for a second independence referendum and seek to remain in Europe as an independent country.” (Reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

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