Special Topic | This is how the German capital region supports founders

The Berlin-Brandenburg capital region is one of the leading life science regions in Europe and a lot is being done to keep it that way: with a wide variety of space offerings and support program for founders and start-ups.


Berlin is the hotspot for German start-ups: According to the Start-up Barometer of the management consulting firm E&Y, the capital was once again in first place in Germany in every respect in the first half of 2022. Here, for example, there were a total of 219 financing rounds – more than Bavaria (118), North-Rhine Westphalia (59) and Hamburg (38) combined. Berlin is also ahead in the health sector. According to E&Y, the most investment capital in this sector flowed into Berlin start-ups last year. In 57 financing rounds, they received a total of 519 million euros. These figures are certainly not only the result of the attractiveness of the region, but also of the good framework conditions that start-ups find here in the form of a large number of funding offers for founders, an effective infrastructure and corresponding space offers in the capital region.

Extensive early support

Among other things, many scientific institutions offer extensive support to founders from their ranks. For example, the Berlin University Alliance – an alliance of the Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, the Technical University of Berlin and Charité University Medical Center – has bundled its start-up activities in the “Science & Startups” initiative. The initiative is the virtual umbrella brand for the joint activities of the start-up centers of four institutions and supports university spin-offs by, among other things, raising funds, offering workshops and coaching, establishing contacts with academic mentors and investors, and creating incubator space.

Early support in the further development of medical innovations is also provided by the SPARK mentoring program at the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité. The program was founded in 2015 and is based on the successful SPARK program, which was developed at Stanford University and now established at more than 50 institutions worldwide. The goal of SPARK is to bring research successes from the laboratories as quickly as possible to patients around the world – including clinically relevant medicinal products, diagnostics and medical devices. Scientists and physicians from BIH and Charité can apply for the mentoring program.

Boost in the early phase

In addition to academic offerings aimed primarily at spin-offs from its own institutions, there is also a wide range of support offers in the region for start-ups in the early phase. In total, more than 80 accelerators and incubators support start-ups in the early phase. Some of these have focused on health issues – such as the Vision Health Pioneers Incubator. This has already supported more than 40 young companies and will accompany a further 40 companies on their start-up journey with around 1.5 million euros in 2022 and 2023. The ten-month program includes training, free co-working spaces, business opportunities and equity-free scholarships of up to 80,000 euros.

Another example of comprehensive support for founders in Berlin’s healthcare industry is the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL). The global non-profit organization opened its first location in Germany in Berlin mid-year at the European School of Management and Technology Berlin (ESMT). Basically, the CDL was aimed at scalable science and technology-based companies in the early phase in numerous business sectors – in Berlin, the CLS is initially starting with a “Health Stream.” In a nine-month program, founders can benefit from a mentor network and thus significantly increase their prospects of success in the healthcare industry.

Infrastructure makes the difference

In addition to support through programs, an effective and efficient infrastructure with fast routes, a high density of research and development as well as close networking are also of great value to founders. In addition to the successful healthcare cluster Berlin-Brandenburg, these include numerous technology parks in the region. The parks offer companies optimal space as well as modern laboratories. With a total of eight technology parks in the life sciences, this infrastructure is unique in Germany in terms of size and diversity: These include the Berlinbiotechpark Charlottenburg, the Biopark Luckienwalde, the Campus Berlin-Buch, the Innovation Park Wuhleide, the GO:IN Innovation and Start-up Center in the Potsdam Science Park in Golm, the Innovation Forum Henningsdorf and the Science and Business Location Adlershof (WISTA).

Since the metropolitan region is also supposed to remain attractive in the future for start-ups in the life sciences, several expansions of the centers and new space offers for founders are already being implemented or planned. Among other things, the BerlinBioCube on the Campus Berlin-Buch will open in 2023 as a new start-up center and create space for 400 new jobs. The Potsdam Science Park is also expanding, with over 78,000 square meters of new office and laboratory space to accommodate more than 1,000 new employees over the next few years.

The FUBIC Innovation Center (Business and Innovation Center next to the Free University Campus) is currently being built in the immediate vicinity of FU Berlin. It will be equipped with offices, co-working space and laboratories for up to 85 start-ups and young companies from the life sciences, healthcare and IT sectors.

Complementing these expansions, new, highly specialized sites are being built in the capital region, such as SEE:LAB – a competence center for biomaterials on the Campus Teltow-Seehof – with over 2,000 square meters and the Chemical Invention Factory at the Technical University of Berlin of similar size. Both plan to host faculty spin-offs in the future.

Related links:


E&Y Start-up-Barometer https://startup.ey.com/en/news/ey-startup-barometer-germany-january-2023

Initiative “Science & Startups” https://www.science-startups.berlin/

Mentoring program SPARK https://www.spark-bih.de/program/projects

Vision Health Pioneers Incubator https://visionhealthpioneers.de/

Creative Destruction Lab https://creativedestructionlab.com/locations/berlin/

BerlinBioCube https://www.berlinbiocube.de/en/Index

Potsdam Science Park https://potsdam-sciencepark.de/en/

FUBIC (only in German) https://www.fu-berlin.de/sites/profund/Wirtschaftskooperationen/FUBIC/index.html

SEE:LAB (only in German) https://www.teltow.de/aktuelles/news/grundsteinlegung-seelab-kompetenzzentrum-fuer-biomaterialien-teltow-seehof.html

Chemical Invention Factory https://www.chemicalinventionfactory.com/