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Startup Champs Germany: Leading German startup cities to strengthen their joint efforts

To increase Germany’s visibility as a startup location especially at international level, the four largest German cities – Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Munich – are taking their cooperation to the next level: on 5 October 2023, the management of the relevant four business development organisations have signed the Startup Champs Germany Cooperation Agreement at Expo Real, the leading real estate fair in Munich. With this, they have created a solid framework for future collaborations. Launched in 2020 under the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, Startup Champs started as a national pitch competition. Since then, the format has been able to establish itself as a prestigious live event. The project’s expansion demonstrates the previous success of these joint efforts and is aimed at promoting Germany’s startup economy, while at the same time strengthening its international presence.

In recent years, the global startup economy has developed into a major factor for economic performance and innovation. In Germany, the startup community is mostly based in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Munich – Germany’s largest cities with over 1 million inhabitants and more. Together, Germany’s four most populous cities also make up a significant share of the national startup ecosystem, with around 9,000 startups and an investment volume of almost €8 billion, according to Dealroom, a startup database. As each city features a unique ecosystem with specific strengths, the cooperation agreement offers a variety of opportunities for all stakeholders to build on previous collaborations.

The agreement between the four cities includes a roadmap for future joint projects and initiatives to utilise the great potential of startups both nationally and internationally.

The main goals of the Startup Champs Germany cooperation include the following:

  • Initiate joint projects to market the four largest startup locations in Germany
  • Increase the visibility of the participating startup locations at national and international levels
  • Support the local startup ecosystems, e.g. through networking and information sharing
  • Foster initiatives aimed at stimulating the startup scene, e.g. by promoting female entrepreneurship.


At Expo Real, one of the largest trade fairs for real estate and investment in Europe, the representatives of the four cities explained the advantages of this unique cooperation.

At the trade event, the four Startup Champs cities will be demonstrating with selected prop-tech startups how large companies from the real estate sector can benefit from innovative solutions provided by startups. And the first international activities of the Startup Champs are also scheduled for 2023: at the joint German stands of prolific European startup events, such as the Web Summit in Lisbon and Slush in Helsinki, the four cities will be presenting themselves as part of the Startup Champs project. In the forerun to these events, new enterprises from the four cities were given the chance to apply and present their business models on-site to an international expert audience.

Dr Stefan Franzke, CEO of Berlin Partner, Berlin’s business development agency, commented: “When, two years ago, Berlin surpassed London and was voted Europe’s most popular place to start a business, I remarked that in the professional league a healthy competition for the first place was part of the game. And while this year London just about made it to the first place in Europe, Berlin is by far the undisputed startup hotspot in Germany. But this is certainly not a given ­– rather, it is the result of hard work. First and foremost, it is the entrepreneurial minds who put their plans into action with creativity, courage and commitment. And it also demonstrates that we have favourable framework conditions. Just to give an example: in the first half of this year alone, 76% of the total sum of €286 million invested in Germany’s FinTech/InsurTech sector was allocated to Berlin-based startups. With our plans to create a House of Finance, we are taking another big step on the way to becoming a major financial hub. The cooperative partnership between the German startup cities is also part of these favourable framework conditions. I am looking forward to a constructive exchange in this partnership of startup cities.”

Dr Rolf Strittmatter, Managing Director of Hamburg Invest, Hamburg’s business development agency, believes that the cooperation agreement will open up excellent opportunities for founders in particular: “Germany’s startup ecosystem offers enormous potential, from innovative strength to sales markets. With the Startup Champs project, Hamburg has kicked off a joint success story with Berlin, Cologne and Munich, making the locations tangible and adding impact through the cooperation’s international design. Going forward, cross-city activities will provide even more startup teams with insights into the advantages of the relevant locations.”

Dr Manfred Janssen, Managing Director of KölnBusiness, Cologne’s business development agency, said:“By strengthening cooperation with the three other German cities with over 1 million inhabitants, Cologne continues to gain national and international importance as a startup location. With the Startup Champs Germany pitch event, which has been held annually since 2020, and with the joint activities to promote female entrepreneurship, we already laid a solid foundation. This new cooperation at international startup events will highlight Cologne’s innovative strength on a global stage. By working closely together, we are enhancing the profile of each partner city so as to attract more founders and investment.”

Clemens Baumgärtner, Head of the Department of Labour and Economic Affairs of the City of Munich, said: “No other German city has as many patents registered and as many companies founded per capita as Munich. Here, innovative business ideas find an ideal environment to grow, which is also owing to the interplay of top universities and research institutions, extensive funding opportunities and investor networks as well as strong ties with industry. While national competition with Germany’s other three startup locations, i.e. Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne, is important and fruitful, we can benefit even more from a partnership between these locations. With the Startup Champs project, we have laid the foundation for this. In the coming years, we will expand the cooperation further, allowing each of the cities to contribute their respective strengths.”

With the new cooperation agreement, the four cities underline their commitment to the startup community and are sending a strong signal for the future of Germany’s startup ecosystem and its internationalisation.

To learn more, please visit (German only):


Startup Champs Germany was initiated by the following four stakeholders:


Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und TechnologieGmbH offers business and technology support for companies, investors and scientific institutions in Berlin. Thanks to its large team of experts, tailor-made services and strong ties with stakeholders from the science sector, Berlin Partner helps businesses ensure the success of their innovation, relocation, expansion or location-securing projects. As a unique public-private partnership, Berlin Partner is backed by the Berlin Senate as well as over 240 companies and scientific institutions that are committed to their city and is also in charge of marketing the German capital on a global scale. Berlin Partner’s startup team provides customised support for startups and scaleups seeking to enter international markets and, conversely, markets Berlin's startup ecosystem internationally to encourage companies to set up business in Berlin. Within the Berlin municipality, the team also coordinates the Berlin Startup Unit, which aims to connect the local startup community with Berlin’s political scene.


Hamburg Invest is the one-stop agency for relocation and investment projects in Hamburg and serves as the main partner of Hamburg’s business community on all matters relating to business development. Offering a wide range of services for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, Hamburg Invest also includes the dedicated Hamburg Startup Unit, which sees itself as the main port of call for all queries regarding startup programmes and services by the City of Hamburg, financing opportunities, as well as relevant events and networks in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.

KölnBusiness serves as the partner for a strong business sector. As a subsidiary of the City of Cologne, KölnBusiness is a facilitator and supporter for all enterprises, founders, investors and project developers in Cologne. In collaboration with stakeholders from the startup ecosystem, the Startup Unit of KölnBusiness supports Cologne-based startups throughout their growth phases and positions Cologne as a startup location both nationally and internationally.

Munich Startup is the official startup portal for Munich and was created as part of the Munich Entrepreneurship Strategy by the City of Munich, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Munich and Upper Bavaria as well as an association of the four entrepreneurship centres of Munich’s universities. The portal is operated by the Münchner Gewerbehof- und Technologiezentrum GmbH (MGH). Munich Startup has established itself as the digital port of call for innovative, technology-based startups in the Munich region and attaches great importance to presenting all services and stakeholders in a neutral, independent and transparent manner. The portal enhances transparency within the startup scene and promotes networking between founders and potential partners, investors and mentors. All major stakeholders of Munich’s 

business community are involved in the portal. The goal is to make the Munich region the destination of choice for high-growth startups in Europe.


Contact details for media enquiries to the four partner cities:

Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie GmbH

Lukas Breitenbach, Head of Corporate Communications

Mobile: +49 157 73998 - 123

E-mail: lukas.breitenbach(at)
Hamburg Invest Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft mbH

Ingrid Meyer-Bosse, Press Officer

Phone: +49 4041 1110 - 638

E-mail: ingrid.meyer-bosse(at)


KölnBusiness Wirtschaftsförderung

Steffen Eggebrecht, Press Officer

Phone: 0221 99501-300

E-mail: presse(at)

Munich Startup

E-mail: redaktion(at)




    Lukas Breitenbach

    Press spokesman
    Head of Corporate Communications

    +49 157 73998-123

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  • Carolin Meltendorf

    Deputy Press Spokeswoman

    +49 151 15075829

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