Live From Berlin — German Chancellor Angela Merkel Shines Spotlight On Tech Startups

We’re live in Berlin at a major announcement due to be made shortly by German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. I’ll be covering the event which has been rumoured to be a major policy shift by the German government towards technology startups. (We should add that TechCrunch will be coming to Berlin in October). TechCrunch is exclusively live streaming the event below.

In her speech Merkel called technology startups “The yeast so that Germany grows.”

She also recognised that for a long time the government hadn’t realised the impact tech companies were making on the economy, but that today would be the beginning of a new conversation with the tech industry.

Although she made no major policy announcements, the feedback from the entrepreneurs and investors present was extremely positive. As one told me: “We’ve been waiting for this to happen a while, but over the last two years the government has started noticing the tech economy. To have the Chancellor recognise it in such personal terms is a great boost. We very optimistic this will translate into significant support for the startup industry.”

That said, the new government ovation to the tech community comes at a time when Germany is poised to enact a new ‘snippets’ law design to push search engines like Google to pay content owners, but which is at the same time likely to affect startups.

It also emerged during the event that Dr. Merkel was, during her time as a physics researcher, used Fortran to program, after she was asked directly by Stefan Richter, an adviser to the HackFWD accelerator. What do you know – a Chancellor who’s a former hacker…

The event was put together by some of Germany’s key entrepreneurs and investors: Lars Hinrichs, Klaus Hommels, Frank Thelen, Christophe Maire, Heiko Hubertz and Marco Boerries. In addition, major corporate players eBay, Google, Bertelsmann and Axel Springer are joining the event.

It includes 200 of Germany’s top 200 tech entrepreneurs, and main organiser Lars Hinrichs says a survey of the group found it represents around €21 billion in value, over 127,000 employees, and 95 percent of the companies said they would experience growth this year.