Hamburg News: Mr. Jung, how does the Hamburgische Investitions- und Förderbank (IFB Hamburg) support young, innovative companies from Hamburg?
Jung: IFB’s core business is financial funding. But we also want to make a positive contribution to the development of the innovation climate. That’s why we work closely with start-up bodies such as the Startup-Dock at TUHH or the cluster organisation, nextMedia.Hamburg, the Hamburg Startups initiative and the chambers. Hamburg has the advantage of short paths and people in the start-up scene are well connected with each other. That’s how our work in the Hamburg Innovation Summit came about where we are bringing agile and dynamic start-ups together with existing, innovative companies and show them new, hands-on technologies. We are expecting between 800 and 1,000 participants in the ZAL TechCenter and this would double the inflow over last year.
Hamburg News: Which financial means is IFB offering start-ups?
Jung: Our first funding programme is called “InnoRampUp” with which we can, in principle, support all kinds of innovations. We offer start-ups a maximum grant of EUR 150,000 for their business ideas. The funds can be granted as pre-seed financing in the first two years after founding or as seed money. Companies that are a bit farther along and can provide proof of concept or the first sales are offered equity capital with the innovation starters. We invest up to EUR 500,000 per financing round in technology-orientated companies that are at least six years old. Meanwhile, we have supported around 70 start-ups such as Sonormed with its tinnitus therapy app “Tinnitracks” or the “Familie” family app with these two programmes.
Hamburg News: Are you planning more funding programmes in future?
Jung: After the early financing phase, in our experience financial gaps occur repeatedly in the growth phase. They have to be covered through other programmes. We wish to launch the “Hamburg Credit Innovative” this summer. Companies can then avail of up to EUR 1.5 million in loans. In reference to highly scalable business models that are unsuitable for this kind of funding, we are presently examining a so-called innovation growth fund at the request of parliament. The city of Hamburg will contribute EUR 10 million in capital and EUR 90 million will come from private investors.
Hamburg News: Hamburg’s importance to Europe and the region is being celebrated at present. Can you outline the EU’s role in promoting start-ups in Hamburg?
Jung: We examine whether European funds are available for our funding programmes and whether they can be used sensibly – and not least to spare the city of Hamburg’s budget. We have integrated ERDF funds in the innovation starter funds. That means we will have a volume of EUR 25.4 million from the latest European Investment Fund. We will receive funds for the first time from the Juncker plan, the European Commission’s investment offensive, and use them for Hamburg. We will also examine the use of innovation growth funds to see whether European funds can be integrated therein.