Norbert Herrmann: Supporting Projects by Creating an Enabling Environment

Norbert Herrmann works at the Senate Department for Economic Affairs, Energy, and Public Enterprises as an API Interface between the startup ecosystem and public administration, between the network of interested public employees, and the network of startup activists. Learn more about how he contributes to the startup ecosystem in Berlin, and find out what’s working well in the ecosystem & what still needs improvement.

A man with a hat and a white shirt holding a microphone
1. Hi Norbert. Thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Could you please tell us about your background and connection to the startup world?

Hi there, thanks for having me. I have a diploma in Political Economics from the Goethe University in Frankfurt. From 1998 to 2000, I worked on the interaction between weather, climate, and economy at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. From 2011 to 2017, I worked at the Centre for Entrepreneurship TU Berlin, and I was the head of the Technology Transfer Unit and Programme Director at the Berlin Institute for Technology.

2. Now, you work at the Senate Department for Economic Affairs, Energy, and Public Enterprises. Tell us about your mission.

I am an “API” between administration and the startup world. I am part of the Berlin Startup Unit with the Chamber of Commerce, the Governing Mayor’s office, Investment Bank Berlin, and the Berlin-Partner Business support agency. 

I coordinate the work on Startup Map Berlin – a database that tries to raise transparency in the Berlin Startup ecosystem and helps us create reports on the ecosystem. Operationally, I’m in charge of the Berlin Startup Agenda 2022-2026. Writing this agenda was a cooperation between public and private players. 

Some of my focus goes to impact startups, diversity, talent, enablement, and cooperation. I believe small steps are possible, and with the Berlin Startup Scholarship, a grant program for pre-seed founders, even more significant steps are possible.

3. What’s going well in the startup ecosystem in Berlin at the moment? What’s the ecosystem lacking?

The ecosystem is very welcoming. There are great entry points for any newcomers. It’s an open ecosystem full of tolerance. People are learning from one another, and there are so many sub-ecosystems that are all interconnected.

However, we lack talent, innovation, labs, and investment. Fostering cooperation between KMU, startups, research Institutes, and public administration could further unfold additional potential.

4. How do you feel you’re contributing to the startup scene in Berlin?

My biggest strength is bringing people together – specifically, I’m the entry point into the ecosystem for young teams and teams from abroad. But I try to also be an entry point into the government and administration for any startup idea. 

I’m both a listener and a translator – from the state side and vice versa. I provide an overview of the ecosystem at the Startup Map Berlin and showcase several startup reports.

5. What do you predict for the startup ecosystem in Berlin in the near future?

Impact and purpose-driven startups are rising, overcoming the green marketing phase. And Berlin keeps being attractive to young people, which is one of the main drivers for the startup ecosystem. 

I’m noticing that startups are merging with the SME ecosystem, which will bring more agility and dynamics. And I hope that Berlin will keep unfolding startup potentials to help startups and use them as problem-solving engines to make the city more future-proof.

Thank you for sharing your story and insights, Norbert. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

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