Everyone knows about the success of Silicon Valley, Berlin or London — cities bursting of entrepreneurial energy. But would you believe that some Fin-tech (digital financial services), virtual reality, augmented reality and even legal-tech start-ups in these cities all have contributors from Mönchengladbach.
In Mönchengladbach, as with most cities, there are a number of digital agencies doing well and there is even a little start-up scene. It reminds me — even as it is tiny — of the buzz at the Silicon Roundabout in London, a few years before it took its place as one of Europe’s start up centres.
So what I see is: Mönchengladbach has a critical mass of design oriented media industry entities currently not connected enough, but waiting for the next step. Having spoken with local entrepreneurs, it feels like there is a need to unite these entities and provide them with a direction and to offer local and regional success with the potential of a shot at international access.
I believe that Mönchengladbach lacks a small element, which would get the development of the tech-scene here to the next level — based on my experience in Silicon Valley and elsewhere: I see the need for a platform for everyone to exchange, hang out and develop ideas together — human interaction is the secret sauce of any start-up scene. And human interaction needs easy access to a shared physical location. Where the free mixing of entities, ideas and the entrepreneurial spirit can be supported by events and mentors to further the common cause.
Human interaction is the secret sauce of any start-up scene
Of course, backing from industry and big names in tech would have an immense effect on individual efforts and perhaps partnerships could develop more quickly in a region already home to several multi-national medium-size companies — the famous German “Mittelstand” is strong in Mönchengladbach with mechanical engineering and some IT-companies.
Another aspect of the development, the way I see it: there is demand for young energetic tech-contributors — the city even has a University of Applied Sciences. This talent would benefit from a series of programs designed to train and support them in real-world techniques and strategies that are difficult for even top mark schools to keep tabs on. These days, you can not have enough IT-talent in a place. So enlarging the pool of talent is a must: — for example: running a set of events such as the globally successful, ”django-girls” already provides a pre-packaged platform that could enable local people to learn and experience tech-industry niches, that are core in the tech-scene and not normally available in regional cities.
Another critical point leading to the success of Mönchengladbach would be that the city — with it’s upcoming development and rather low housing prices — could be a talent catchment for the surrounding NRW regions, that don’t drain directly in to the startup scenes in Düsseldorf or Köln. Without going overboard, if a central stage and right synergy could be found, it may even provide competition.
From my perspective in order to meet its potential, Mönchengladbach must move from informally being called “MG, action town” to be known as “MG Tech-town”.
The talent is here, the industry is here. A central platform with support, training and experienced mentors is the secret to the sauce.