The rise of migrant founders
The public face of Germany is changing as the country experiences one of the strongest societal disruptions in recent decades. Ambitious talents with migration backgrounds are increasingly taking up the top positions in public office and industry. A similar trend can be seen among start-ups – where 22 percent of Germany’s founders have a migration background according to the Migrant Founders Monitor 2022. Unicorns such as Omio, Infarm, Raisin, and Mambu are all led by migrant founders and contribute thousands of jobs and economic value.
Framework conditions matter
However, despite this development there is little reason to celebrate. All of these achievements and victories have been hard won and were often only possible with the help of exceptional luck. As the report states, one in three migrant founders have experienced racial discrimination. Moreover, the disparity in levels of access to venture capital between migrant founders and native founders is a staggering 31.5 percent. Why is this a problem? Because these findings reflect a much deeper problem. A discriminating environment in a city or region directly inhibits economic development, talent attraction and digital innovation. It makes a location less attractive for new talent, creates business obstacles and a non-integrative culture.
How we support migrant founders
The Digital Hub Initiative was founded on the premise that successful digital innovation requires flourishing digital innovation ecosystems. Tangible and breakthrough results can only be achieved if start-ups, innovation units, investors, and talent are able to collaborate without any form of discrimination. That is why promoting inclusion and paying particular attention to equal opportunities for all stakeholders are much more than buzzwords. These actions are in fact the bottom line for corporate acceleration programs, hackathons, and incubation and intrapreneurship programs within the digital hubs.
Anne Christin Braun, Digital Health Hub Lead & Marketing Lead at Digital Health Hub Nuremberg describes their approach to creating a more inclusive ecosystem within the Digital Hub Initiative:
“It is crucial to foster an inclusive ecosystem where people from diverse backgrounds feel welcome, can connect and accelerate their ideas – no matter if they are students or serial founders. For us, one pillar is making role models visible by curating a diverse set of speakers for all our events. At the same time, it is equally important to offer resources for the many administrative barriers migrant founders face if they want to settle in Germany. By bringing in 35 percent international talents in our dedicated student innovation program we spark excitement and create opportunities for a career path in entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship with the next generation of founders.”
Digital Hub Initiative commitment to an inclusive ecosystem
Creating a powerful digital innovation ecosystem across Germany is the main objective as the Digital Hub Initiative. However, the results of the Migrant Founders Monitor 2022 point to the painful truth that migrant founders in Germany still face discrimination and significant obstacles in their entrepreneurial journey. That is why, as Anne Christin Braun clearly points out, the initiative is strongly committed to addressing these challenges in order to build an inclusive ecosystem. As Dr. Kim J. Zietlow, responsible for the internationalization of the Digital Hub Initiative, points out, “91 percent of migrant founders in Germany have an academic background and are highly motivated. We simply cannot afford to let this huge entrepreneurial potential go unused.”