I published an article in Business Insider that you can read here. The article is about the Berlin ecosystem.
Berlin’s thriving startup scene fueled by immigration
While studying in Belgium, I took a trip to Berlin for the Tech Open Air (TOA) event, a nexus for innovators from around the world. With its affordable living and supportive infrastructure, Berlin is becoming a major hub for startups, rivaling Silicon Valley.
At TOA, I learned about “zebra companies,” which, unlike unicorns that seek explosive growth, focus on sustainability and shared prosperity. One example is Mitte Home, which significantly reduces CO2 emissions by providing an alternative to bottled water. Another, DeepNews, prioritizes real news to counter the spread of misinformation.
Immigrants, especially skilled developers from Eastern Europe, are crucial to the Berlin ecosystem. Maxim, CEO of DeepNews, told me that the affordable lifestyle and diversity of creative talent are part of Berlin’s appeal.
Interestingly, techno music plays a key role in Berlin’s startup culture. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the music scene served as a bridge between East and West Germany, bridging cultural differences.
While the global startup landscape benefits from immigrants, as evidenced by the fact that 54.8% of U.S. unicorn companies were founded by immigrants, the surge in immigration has its downside. In Germany, concerns about immigration have led to a rise in support for far-right parties such as the AfD.
In Belgium, even with less overt discrimination, there’s underlying tension over Islamic immigrants.
Japan highly wary of immigration
In Japan, there’s caution about immigration despite a declining population. Welcoming highly skilled immigrants is preferable, but it also requires investing in their education and integration. Many are concerned about the challenges of learning Japanese and providing funds for investment. However, Japan is making progress with start-up visa programs in cities such as Fukuoka and Kobe.
Maxim expressed interest in moving to Japan before the pandemic, attracted by the rich culture and long-standing family businesses. Such comments suggest that while Japan has its inherent strengths, there are lessons to be learned from Berlin’s vibrant startup ecosystem.