Germany’s Economics Minister makes lightning visit to Silicon Valley

Philipp Rösler
Philipp Rösler

Philipp Rösler

Germany’s Minister for Economics and Technology Philipp Rösler spent the start of the week in California – and is already planning another, bigger trip with up to 40 members of the local startup scene in May. 

Germany’s Minister for Economics and Technolgy Philipp Rösler (above) is busy checking out the technology and startup scene in California as a model for innovative business in Germany. Last Sunday, he travelled to the US with a delegation to gather ideas for improving the circumstances of startups in Germany. “My goal is to strengthen the role of the digital economy to make it a key branch of the whole German economy and to further innovation,” as he put it in a ministry press release. 

Rösler’s delegation to the US included: Felix Haas, co-founder of Amiando; Florian Nöll, the head of industry association Bundesverband Deutsche Startups; Jörg Bienert, co-founder of Cologne-based data analysis service ParStream; and BITKOM vice president Heinz-Paul Bonn. The two-day trip serves as preparation for a larger trip planned in May, in which Rösler wants to guide 30 to 40 representatives from the startup scene plus journalists through Silicon Valley.


Haas: trip is all work and no sleep…

Felix HaasSpeaking to Haas (right) at 6am local time yesterday, he explained sleep was in rather short supply as the programme was packed to the brim. What did he want to get out of the trip with Rösler? He sees Rösler as a door opener – if you arrive with the German Minister of Economics, you tend to meet a whole lot more contacts than if you arrive alone. 

On Sunday evening, the group made dinner plans with Kai Diekmann, the editor-in-chief of German newspaper Bild and with PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, where Rösler asked about what makes startups successful.

The German delegation visited, amongst others, the local SAP research laboratory and the Plug & Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale – an incubator for fast-growth startups. Rösler also took the time to visit the German Silicon Valley Accelerator, a project supported by the Ministry for Economics and Technology to help young startups win investors and learn innovation strategy in the Valley. 

And concrete actions? 

At the end of last year, Rösler set up an advisory board called the “Junge Digitale Wirtschaft” (the Young Digital Economy) – designed to advise him on exactly that. Haas described Rösler as “seriously interested” in the startup scene, and has the impression the topic lies close to Rösler’s heart. In general, however, Haas is of the opinion politicians shouldn’t get too involved in startups themselves but focus on ensuring they have the best environment in which to set up.

Klaus Wowereit at Wooga

In recent months, Rösler, along with current mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit (above, visiting Wooga), met with representatives from the local startup scene. Even if the meeting was largely held with the upcoming election in mind, an open dialogue with politicians can only be helpful. Rösler also supported last year’s Startup Manifesto, an initiative against a higher taxation of company shareholders – it seems, with this action, he opened himself up to a more intense relationship with startups in Germany.

Translated by Michelle Kuepper

Image credits: Philipp Rösler, Flickr user World Economic Forum; Felix Haas via Crunchbase; Sunnyvale, by Flickr user tolomea; Klaus Wowereit, via Wooga’s blog 


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