Room for Startups – A talk with… MTZ

The Munich Technology Center (Münchner Technologiezentrum – MTZ)  — which is part of MGH GmbH just like Munich Startup — offers startups and their ecosystem working spaces and a strong network. We were able to talk with Cristina Mann, administrative director of the MTZ.

What does the MTZ do?

We provide startups, or innovative young companies, office space here. We currently have 114 companies with us, and they employ roughly 700 individuals.

From our back office, we offer our tenants a broad spectrum of services: firstly, we make sure that visitors and mail arrive where they should. We also help startups in cooperating with external parties such as consulates, constantly exchange information with other technology centers and help establish international contacts. You might say that we are the spider in the web. We additionally coordinate our own events with partners.

Head of MTZ, Cristina Mann, photo: Munich Startup
Head of MTZ, Cristina Mann, photo: Munich Startup

What strengths does the MTZ have to offer?

Everything is state-of-the-art technologically and people feel comfortable here. That is made evident by the fact that we never have to advertise. Most tenants come to us based on recommendation.

At this point, I also want to point out that we are not the cheapest. We charge standard market prices. We are not even allowed to offer our working space at a lower price.

Our strength does not lie in price, but instead in cooperation. We offer the opportunity to communicate with other companies that are in the same situation as well as with companies from different industries. In practical terms, that means: if I need an accountant, for example, then I just have to go across the hall and ask my neighbor. People really help each other here. If someone needs further assistance, say in financing, they can go to BayStartUP, which is also located here.

“MTZ and BayStartUp perfectly complement each another”

You mentioned that companies hoping to locate at the MTZ have to be innovative. How would you define innovation?

Let’s take one of our tenants, Sono Motors, as an example. One of the many features offered by the car developed by the team is natural moss in its interior. Moss already exists, cars already exist, but using moss as an air filter in a car interior is new. That is innovation.

How big are the offices rented out by the MTZ?

We offer offices from 26 square meters to an entire floor comprising 400 square meters. Two large companies that are currently occupying entire floors will be leaving next year because they no longer have enough room to grow at the MTZ. We will have four to eight new companies moving in per floor. The number of companies at the MTZ varies as a consequence, and can range from less than 100 to up to 120 or 130. Around 30-35% of our 11,000 square meters of total area changes from one year to the next.

BayStartUP at MTZ, photo: Munich Startup

How do the MTZ and BayStartUp work together in concrete terms? How did that collaboration arise?

Before the MTZ opened in its current form in the fall of 2008, both the MTZ and BayStartUp noticed that we would complement one another perfectly: I was looking for a consulting firm for the MTZ, and BayStartUp was looking for a new location. When the new technology center opened eight years ago, BayStartUp moved right in.

BayStartUp is not only one of our tenants, they also advise our companies and organize events at the MTZ. That allows us to combine our networking activities with those conducted by BayStartUp.

“Munich startups are extremely focused on the market”

Why do startups need a startup center?

Inexperienced founders in particular require access to knowledge. While it is possible for an individual to gather most information on their own, the process can be very time-consuming. At a startup center, you can simply walk across the hall and ask: How did you do it? Our in-house network is a special added-value factor.

Which mistakes do you often notice startups making?

One mistake is thinking that you have to solve every problem by yourself. There are so many ways to find the right information and solutions for free.

What distinguishes Munich as a startup location?

For one thing, many large international companies are located here that you meet up with at events. That makes it possible to quickly establish contacts and win over companies as clients.

The Munich startup scene itself is extremely focused. Munich is not a cheap location, which is why companies try to get on the market quickly. The situation does not allow me to experiment around in my garage for too long, but instead requires me to quickly develop the product and find clients. That is why Munich startups are so extremely focused on the market.

How can startups contact the MTZ?

Through all channels: by email, through our website, by telephone. And if you are in a hurry, it is possible to move in within two days — with a rental agreement and the whole shebang.