German coalition proposal aims to boost entrepreneurs (update)

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel

It’s official: Startups are firmly on the radar of German politicians. The draft coalition agreement between German governing parties CDU/CSU and SPD includes proposals to make it easier to found a company – including a one-stop agency to allow founders to start a business much faster than before.

Angela Merkel

The proposal also promotes introducing a kind of maternity leave, where individuals would receive support during their time out from the workforce while founding a startup. It suggests creating standardised stock option models as voluntary and complementary parts of renumeration and “fair standardised contracts” for founders.

The proposal also pushes for more financial support for startups – it wants to offer founders a re-payable startup loan, in collaboration with the KfW Banking Group. The grant could also be connected to a crowdfunding campaign, according to the proposal. The cash should cover founders’ livelihood and social security while they’re establishing their startup.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the coalition parties turned away from some important parts of the proposed changes during the final stages of the coalition talks. While plans for a one-stop agency remain in the final version of the agreement, there is no longer mention of a 72-hour time period. Furthermore, plans to create an internationally-connected incubator network have now been rephrased to intentions to “promote the creation of an international network for startups by private businesses and supporting its internationalisation”. Tax support for business angels, making exits easier, proper monetary support for founders’ loans – the list of details that have been deleted from the final agreement is long. Still included are plans to support prospective founders in current work arrangements and the consideration of a startup stock market.

An international incubator network

Now it gets interesting: CDU/CSU and SPD also want to set up a federal programme for building incubators and a “German incubator network, which is connected internationally”, according to the coalition proposal. Using this network, the coalition aims to support the internationalisation of innovative startups through market entry help and exchange projects.

The common complaint of a lack of VC funding is also dealt with in the proposal. By introducing a new venture capital law, Germany should become more attractive for international investors. In parallel, the coalition wants to support new financing forms like crowdfunding and encourage VC via investment grants. Public/private investment fund High-Tech Gründerfonds will be “adequately continued”, according to the draft. The rumoured return of a “startup stock market” is also being considered – we’ll keep our ears open for that.

Translated by Michelle Kuepper

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