© Michael Nagy / Press Office Munich

How Munich Startups are Helping People in Need In and From Ukraine

With Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, a wave of solidarity and a readiness to help have swept across much of Europe. Munich startups and founders are also making an effort wherever they can.

Transportation, housing, in-kind and monetary donations or personal commitment – in the past days and weeks, civil society has found many ways to support the people in Ukraine and those who are fleeing from the war. The Munich startup scene has also been actively participating in this support or has set up their own offers. Their campaigns are as varied as the industries they work in, but they all focus on one thing: providing quick help without red tape.

All key information for refugees from Ukraine in Munich has been gathered on the website of the City of Munich.

Flixbus is picking up refugees and delivering relief supplies to Ukraine

The bus company Flixbus responded quickly to the outbreak of war and has since been offering additional connections and free tickets from the Poland-Ukraine border and from the Romania-Ukraine border. The free rides were initially raised through an employee initiative and were doubled by the management team. But also private individuals, companies, charities and embassies of various countries are helping support Flixbus with the transportation. Instructions about how refugees can access these free tickets are available here. The startup is also making trips that have been commissioned by the authorities to make it possible for even more refugees to continue their journey. According to the company, Flixbus has already transported more than 20,000 refugees to destinations across Europe.

On the return trips to the border areas, the buses also transport relief supplies for the people waiting there. Flixbus is trying to maintain the connections within Ukraine as far as the situation permits. The startup recently joined the platform uatalents.com, a job platform that was created by a Ukrainian company located in Berlin. It aims to help find jobs for people who have been displaced from Ukraine and within the country.

In addition to UA Talents, there are many other platforms for finding jobs for Ukrainians who have fled the country, such as: jobaidukraine.com, jobsforukraine.net, jobs4ukraine.eu, remoteukraine.org and helpukrainians.jooble.org. Startups can also advertise their open positions on these sites.

Yfood is delivering food, EMH Partners is collecting first aid kits

“What can you do in such an uncertain time? It isn’t an easy question, but it was and is important for us to even make a start. To spring into action with the means that we are fortunate to have. Because that’s what counts right now. For us, that means donating meals and getting them to the Ukrainian border with partner organizations. To hopefully help thousands of people in need at least a little bit,”

said Noel Bollmann, founder and CEO of Yfood, via LinkedIn. Since then, the startup has been sending liquid meals as an in-kind donation to Ukraine. Moreover, Yfood is supplying helpers and drivers of other organizations with its products.

In addition to food, medical products and bandaging material are of great importance. Which is why the Munich-based VC firm EMH Partners has made its office available as a collection point for first aid kits from cars and offices. Organized by Dominik Schwarz, a partner at EMH Partners, the first delivery has already arrived in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Munich 3D printing startups have been involved in a different relief campaign: Initiated by Stefan Larsson, founder of the Swedish 3D printing company lostboyslab, they are manufacturing parts of tourniquets, which are necessary for the urgent treatment of (gunshot) wounds. Larsson collects them in Denmark and sends a delivery once a week to Ukraine. In the German community, Malping founder Bastian Gaedike is in charge of coordination.

UnternehmerTUM and MGH organizing in-kind donations for Ukraine

All sorts of in-kind donations are also being collected by UnternehmerTUM at the Munich Urban Colab. The goods can be dropped off on-site or even by delivery service. Volunteers have been sorting the donations before they bring them to Ukrainian cities with minibuses. Thanks to contact with local aid organizations, the helpers know which goods are needed most. On the drive back, the buses have been bringing refugees from the Poland-Ukraine border back to Munich where they receive further assistance.

The MGH, which Munich Startup is also a part of, is also supporting relief efforts: It has made storage facilities at Gewerbehof Nord available to the relief organization Help Ukraine – Deutschland. In this space, they are able to collect in-kind donations from the community and prepare them for transportation to Ukraine and in the EU. Moreover, employees of the MGH are supporting the association directly with monetary donations.

Wirelane turns office into emergency housing

The charging infrastructure company Wirelane has found another way to help refugees. Because the startup’s office is hardly used at the moment with most employees working from home due to corona measures, Wirelane is able to offer it as emergency housing. As reported in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, ice hockey players from Kharkiv have accepted the office with their children, mothers and grandmothers. Furthermore, Wirelane is providing its guests with food, beverages and toys for the children. A neighboring yoga studio has provided its four showers, reported the SZ.

If you would like to follow Wirelane’s example and offer office or private space to refugees as emergency housing, you can contact initiatives such as host4ukraine.com, unterkunft-ukraine.de and muenchner-freiwillige.de/ukraine. Numerous stakeholders in the Munich startup scene have already taken action and are now using their networks to offer the refugees continued support.

HRForecast and university networks are collecting donations

The hrtech startup HRForecast has taken on the issue of monetary donations. Because the company has an office in Kyiv and employs 35 Ukrainians there and in other Ukrainian cities, the colleagues at the Munich office have been making donations to them and their family members. HRForecast set up a donation account for the purpose after consulting with the relevant authorities in Germany. This allows others to also partake in helping these people directly. In addition to financial help, other opportunities for providing support are listed on the startup’s website.

Another donation campaign was started by numerous stakeholders in the Munich startup ecosystem. Under the name Intiatives for Humanity, companies such as Start Munich, Manage & More, CDTM, BEA, Enactus, TUM.ai, Academy Consult and 180 Degrees are collecting donations for Doctors Without Borders.