In recent weeks, a number of political representatives have visited Silicon Valley. In addition to Winfried Kretschmann, Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, the North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of Economics and Digital Affairs, Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, and Dr. Volker Wissing, Minister of Economics, Transport, Agriculture and Viticulture of Rhineland-Palatinate, came from overseas to explore the startup ecosystem in California with its latest trends. The concluding opinions of the three politicians differ widely:
Winfried Kretschmann, who arrived with a delegation of political representatives in order to further expand transatlantic cooperation in topics such as mobility and industry 4.0, warned that Germany was in danger of losing out to global competition in digitization: “We will probably have to give up some of our security thinking and show more willingness to take risks. In California there is a willingness to take risks, while in Germany there is a culture of failure avoidance. What if we are overwhelmed and suddenly left behind? It is typically German to always ask about the risks first. In California, you first think of the opportunities.”
Pinkwart’s statement, on the other hand, sounds more optimistic. He also sees opportunities for German start-ups and Germany as a location for innovation: “The world’s leading start-up network in Silicon Valley also offers start-ups from North Rhine-Westphalia the opportunity to get investors excited about their business ideas. The interest and the esteem in which we are held here is evident: Our innovations are in demand internationally. This encourages us to continue on our path into a new era of entrepreneurship: With good framework conditions, simple and digital processes, unbureaucratic scholarships and an abundant supply of venture capital”.
Dr. Volker Wissing, who came from Rhineland-Palatinate with a delegation of representatives from politics and business, is even as optimistic to say that Rhineland-Palatinate is different from Silicon Valley, but not necessarily worse.
It is very interesting to see that three German politicians who visited Silicon Valley within a few weeks have three very different opinions about it.
But what all three agree on and what the trips to Silicon Valley show is that Germany can learn from the culture of innovation in the Bay Area. German Silicon Valley Innovators supports German companies with services such as our Learning Journey or Innovation Scouting and builds a bridge between Germany and the American innovation network.