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the Pilot Action of Excellence on Innovative Start-ups
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Last update : 27/03/2006
  Stuttgart - A region of excellence for innovative start-ups

Situated at the heart of Baden-Württemberg and Europe, Stuttgart is the hub of economic, scientific, and political life in Southwest Germany. It is also the centre of a flourishing economy with its own administrative structure (Verband Region Stuttgart) and elected assembly.
The Stuttgart Region comprises the City of Stuttgart (the state capital) and the surrounding counties of Böblingen, Esslingen, Göppingen, Ludwigsburg, and Rems-Murr, with a total of 179 local authorities. Covering an area of 3,650 square kilometres, the region is only slightly larger than Luxembourg; but at 2.6 million, its population is six times larger. In fact, with 708 people per square kilometre, the Stuttgart Region is one of the most densely populated areas in Germany.
The Stuttgart Region enjoys a strong economy, providing a solid foundation for innovation and development. The region currently has Germany"s highest density of scientific, academic and research organisations, and tops the national league for patent applications. The Gross Domestic Product for the Stuttgart Region was recorded at 31,590 € per capita in 1999. The unemployment rate of only 4.8 per-cent is further evidence of the Stuttgart Region"s exceptionally healthy economy.
The Stuttgart Region is one of Europe"s most important and most successful economic centres. This is not only due to leading international companies, such as DaimlerChrysler, Porsche, Bosch, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, all of whom have their world or German headquarters here. There is a healthy mix of global players and highly versatile and dynamic medium-sized enterprises. Companies such as Behr, Kärcher, Märklin and Trumpf are known throughout the world for innovation and quality. Approx. 150,000 companies are located in the Stuttgart Region.
  High-tech capital of Europe

The Stuttgart Region of Germany is identified as the "high-tech capital" of the EU in a report of Eurostat, Statistical Office of the European Communities. Stuttgart heads the list of European Regions according to the share of employment in high-tech sectors with a figure of 24.6%. More than 11% of all R&D-expenses in the Federal Republic of Germany are generated in the Stuttgart Region. Expenses of industrial R&D can be estimated to approximately 4.3 billion EURO per year. At 6.1% the R&D proportion of GDP works out at four times the average per head of population in Germany. This creates a fertile environment for innovation. The innovation potential is evident from the fact that, in relation to its population, the Stuttgart Region has more patent applications per inhabitant than anywhere else in Germany: more than 100 patents per 100,000 active workers are registered every year.
  Innovation and Research

In addition to the Universities of Stuttgart and Hohenheim, the region is home to the international Stuttgart Institute of Management and Technology, nine universities of applied sciences, the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy, the Ludwigsburg College of Education, the Stuttgart University of Co-operative Education, the Stuttgart State Academy of Fine Arts, as well as six vocational training colleges. In fact, more than 61,000 students are currently enrolled on courses in almost all fields of study. The University of Stuttgart by far holds the leading position in Germany with regard of contracted research.
In addition to industrial R&D facilities, the Stuttgart Region has six institutes of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, four institutes for collaborative industrial research at local universities, two Max-Planck institutes, as well as one large-scale research centre – the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).
Local universities enjoy an excellent reputation – with good reason. Graduates are not only right up to date with all the very latest scientific developments, they also have hands-on practical experience gained at local companies. Close collaboration between universities, research establishments, and enterprises benefits all sides. The Stuttgart Region is home of the well known Steinbeis foundation which has strong impact on fostering technology transfer from academic research to industry. It is no coincidence that Eurostat figures show the Stuttgart Region to be Europe"s leading area for high technology.
Start-ups and young technology-led businesses are grouped in close proximity at a number of technology parks and business incubation centres. A recently established network of regional competence and innovation centres offers further opportunities for up-and-coming enterprises to benefit from the strong infrastructure and positive business climate. The network also provides assistance and advice on market entry and collaborative projects.
Regional economic development is especially orientated on future technology and sectors such as the environment, mobility and the biotechnical or media economy. A characteristic of work in this area is the formation of networks by which the available resources converge and are optimised without involving larger investment. Examples are the successful network projects "mobilist" (for the promotion of mobility technologies), "BioRegio" (for the promotion of Biotechnology in research and businesses) or "MedienRegion Stuttgart" (for the promotion of communication technologies). Within these networks, SMEs as well as global firms cooperate with partners from universities, Fraunhofer institutes as well as other research institutions.
  Regional activities in early stage financing

The current climate on international stock markets has led many institutional investors and venture capitalists withdrawing from early stage investment. As a result, technology start-ups are now finding it extremely difficult to raise the initial capital they require. In response to this situation, the WRS, in collaboration with the City of Stuttgart, has initiated a pioneering seed capital fund (Technology Fund for Southwest Germany) and a network for private investors (Stuttgart Business Angel Forum).
The Stuttgart Business Angel Forum and Technology Fund for Southwest Germany were established to create an attractive platform for private investors interested in becoming actively involved in technology start-ups.
The Stuttgart Business Angel Forum is intended to give private investors direct access to high-quality regional start-ups. Technology Fund for Southwest Germany (TFS) aims to provide investors with the opportunity to invest in a portfolio of some ten carefully selected young technology companies in the Stuttgart Region. The model is designed to be an integrated investment platform, combining elements of a conventional venture capital fund with a regional network of business angels.
  Promoting Entrepreneurship in the Stuttgart Region: PUSH!

To ensure that the region"s exceptional potential for research and innovation generates a correspondingly high number of skilled jobs, the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation (WRS) joined forces with a number of partners to initiate PUSH! – a network geared to promoting spin-offs from universities and research institutions. PUSH! comprises numerous partners from the higher-education and business communities, as well as from industry, and from public and private organisations.
The central goals include fostering a culture of entrepreneurship at the region"s universities and research institutions, while encouraging start-ups to deploy new technologies and offer innovative business services. PUSH! assists in incorporating entrepreneurial approaches into the university curriculum, and offers advice and support for those planning to set up their own businesses. Basic consulting services are provided via campus agencies at the various universities. These agencies also help young entrepreneurs find appropriate further training, where required.
PUSH! is a non-profit organisation. Its central administrative office, located at the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation, is responsible for managing and developing the network. The PUSH! network integrates teaching staff, governing bodies, on-campus business incubation centres, and the Centre of Entrepreneurship at the University of Hohenheim. PUSH! is part of the EXIST university-based spin-offs programme, operated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
To date, PUSH! has provided assistance to some 300 start-ups in the Stuttgart Region, generating a significant number of jobs at young, innovative enterprises. Reflecting the core R&D fields in the Stuttgart Region, the main technological fields of the NTBFs are IT, electronic businesses, biotechnology, energy and engineering. The available potential for innovative enterprises in the scientific institutions of the region, results from the volume and number of the research plans, which hold first place in Germany. The PUSH! initiative has significantly contributed to ensuring the region"s universities lead the field in entrepreneurship.
The cost-free usage of university resources by business enterprises was made possible by the state of Baden-Württemberg - as responsible legislator. In addition, the state has established two programmes, which grant financial support for entrepreneurship above and beyond university resources alone. Modelled on the American and Scandinavian systems the Stuttgart Region has established three incubator centres at the three universities.
  Regional Competence and Innovation Centres

In today"s fiercely contested global market, regional competence centres are becoming increasingly important tools for economic development. To ensure their competitive edge in the international arena, companies now seek inter-enterprise co-operation, and collaboration with universities, and research establishments. By bringing together companies, universities and research establishments with complementary knowledge in specific fields of technology, the WRS aims to identify, network and retain expertise in the region. The WRS"s activities centre on creating skilled jobs, nurturing the innovative environment required for knowledge-based start-ups, and increasing the number of marketable products created by cutting-edge research.
The Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation (WRS) has played an active role in the development of regional competence and innovation centres by initiating a special programme, including an award for the best ideas. Over the coming three years, funding of two million euros will be spent on implementing the winning proposals. Together with 17 local authorities, more than 280 companies, 16 NGOs and 43 universities and independent research facilities have agreed to create a network for innovation. The Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation supports these activities and co-ordinates the allocation of funds. The WRS also provides assistance with the foundation of further competence and innovation centres – for example, in the field of virtual reality.
  Contact details

Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart GmbH
Heike Thumm
Dr. Rolf Reiner

Friedrichstr. 10
D-70174 Stuttgart
E-mail : (email removed)