The GründerRegio M team with our interview partner Bettina Wenzel (3rd from right)
Photo: Marion Beckhäuser / GründerRegio M

GründerRegio M: 25 years for the Munich ecosystem

GründerRegio M has been strengthening Munich's startup network for 25 years and is especially committed to female founders. On the occasion of the anniversary, Bettina Wenzel, project manager of the Start-up Guide, looks back on the work of the association and describes how the Munich ecosystem has changed over the last quarter of a century.

Munich Startup: What is GründerRegio M and what are the goals of the initiative?

Bettina Wenzel, Gründer Regio M: GründerRegio M is an initiative of the science and business region of Munich to promote university-related startups. The association was founded in 1998 to improve the framework conditions for founders and startups in the Munich economic region. Members of the registered association are universities and research centres as well as institutions, associations and technology and start-up centres.

GründerRegio M sees itself as a network. The association bundles the numerous activities of its members and sets new impulses always with the aim of promoting founders and startups in Munich. In addition to networking, GründerRegio M has been a project sponsor of a wide variety of projects for founders from the university environment, for founders with a migration background or for women who want to be self-employed since 1999.

Munich Startup: What offers can the initiative make to founders?

Bettina Wenzel, GründerRegio M: Since 2003, the support of female founders has been a focal point of the activities of GründerRegio M. With the project Guide – Advice and Support for Women Founders, the initiative has built up a core competence in the area of female entrepreneurship. The Guide project offers individual start-up advice as well as small group coaching, workshops, webinars and networking meetings for female founders. The services are aimed at all women in Munich who are interested in starting a business, regardless of their business idea and the status of their start-up preparations.

The Guide project is funded by the MBQ, the Munich Employment and Qualification Programme of the City of Munich – Department of Labour and Economic Affairs. This is why we can offer the consultations, workshops and networking events at very reasonable participation fees. Individual, targeted and practice-oriented counselling and support for women entrepreneurs are important to us. In this way, the participants can build up exactly the business that perfectly fits their wishes, goals and framework conditions.

Increase the share of women in startups

Munich Startup: Your project Guide explicitly targets female entrepreneurs. Why is the promotion of female entrepreneurs so important to you?

Bettina Wenzel, Founder Regio M: The promotion of female entrepreneurs is extremely important because women are still underrepresented in the startup scene. Despite very good professional qualifications, the overall share of women in startups is only 37 percent and in startups less than 20 percent. Increasing the share of women in startups is an economic necessity. Through their diverse skills, women can actively contribute to a lively startup scene, to successful entrepreneurship and thus to strengthening the competitiveness of Munich as a business location and also beyond the state capital.

Munich Startup: What makes the Munich ecosystem so special from your point of view?

Bettina Wenzel, founder of Regio M: Munich’s ecosystem is characterised by a very high degree of heterogeneity and a very lively startup scene. It is characterised by very successful, growth-oriented startups from the IT, software, healthtech, fintech and transport sectors, but also by numerous exciting startups in the cultural and creative industries and also in retail or gastronomy. There are the most diverse support services for those interested in starting up, whether in the spin-off services of the universities or in the various startup centres and incubators. The startup advisory scene is almost as diverse as the startup scene, so that every person interested in starting a business can find both the right support and suitable premises for their own business or startup.

Munich Startup: How important are university-affiliated startups within the Munich startup scene?

Bettina Wenzel, Founder Regio M: In a university location like Munich, university-related startups are of particular importance. They are the bearers of knowledge-based and, above all, research-based startup projects. They bring research results and current research trends into practice. Another important aspect is that the ideas, trends and needs of young target groups, i.e. students and graduates, are taken up and turned into concrete products or services.

Review: 25 years of GründerRegio M

Munich Startup: How has the Munich startup scene changed over the past 25 years?

Bettina Wenzel, Founder Regio M: The number of players in Munich’s startup scene has multiplied and broadened over the past 25 years. In addition to the “classic” startup supporters such as the startup offices of the universities, many new players have entered the ecosystem, for example industrial companies with incubators or coworking spaces. The range of startup workshops, startup advice and coaching and, above all, networking offers have increased greatly in recent years. Today, there are numerous opportunities for founders and entrepreneurs to exchange ideas and network, both sectorally and cross-sectorally, and this not only in face-to-face form, but also digitally. It is also nice that the visibility of the Munich startup scene has risen sharply in recent years, both nationally and internationally.

Munich Startup: What successes are you particularly proud of?

Bettina Wenzel, GründerRegio M: GründerRegio M and the Guide initiative for female founders have had many successes in recent years. For me as project manager, the awarding of the Anita Augspurg Prize 2016 by the Second Mayoress of the City of Munich to the Guide project was a very special recognition of our successful commitment to Munich’s female founders. I was also particularly pleased by the decision of the Munich City Council in autumn 2022 to make the Guide project – advice and support for women business founders – permanent, i.e. to provide it with permanent funding from the MBQ. And last but not least, we – the board, the team and the members of GründerRegio M – are proud that this summer we can look back on 25 years of jointly and successfully shaping Munich’s startup scene. At our 25th anniversary in Munich’s Seidlvilla, we have of course already made further plans to support Munich’s founders and for the future of the Munich ecosystem.