German coalition agreement: 25 promises to startups

  • Tech Growth Funds and National Digital Funds to improve startup financing
  • Coalition wants to reduce bureaucratic burden for startups
  • Bitkom: We lack the vision to become a start-up nation

Berlin, 7 February 2018 – The new German coalition agreement provides 25 measures from which startups will benefit directly. This is the result of an initial analysis of the paper by German tech association Bitkom. Notably, the financing of startups, which is difficult in Germany by international standards, is to be improved through two major projects. In collaboration with German industry, the government aims to set up a Tech Growth Fund and a National Digital Fund, which could also create a new legal basis for institutional investors to finance start-ups. In addition, several measures are listed to ease the bureaucratic burden on startups. This includes exemption from advance return of VAT for a duration of two years. Overall, the increased presence of startups in the final coalition agreement compared to the results of the exploratory talks can be interpreted as a good sign. “We support many of the announcements, which show that politicians have recognised the importance of young, innovative companies for the economy and the labour market“, says Bitkom Chairman Catharina van Delden. What is still lacking, however, is an overarching vision. While Germany is getting lost in regulating small details and implementing granular measures, neighbouring France is boldly proclaiming itself the startup nation.

It is also important to note the meagre track record of the last legislative period, which saw only 10 out of promised 28 measures to boost startups fully implemented. As early as 2013, the possibility to take a leave to found a startup – a measure analogous to parental leave – and a one-stop-shop administration for start-ups were announced, without actual steps having been taken to implement it. Some of these older promises are found again almost word-for-word in the new coalition agreement. Some ambitious promises made in the previous legislative period, such as the introduction of a risk capital law, were completely abandoned. “Merely announcing measures for startups is not enough, especially if they remain vague and limited in scope“, says van Delden. „It’s important now more than ever to not only spill ink on startup-friendly policy proposals, but to act on the promises made.“

The complete analysis of startup measures in the coalition agreement can be found here (in German).

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