Uber, the taxi app, is an example of a unicorn, a private company valued at more than $1bn © Bloomberg
Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

The Berlin-based European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) is taking advantage of its location in continental Europe’s largest start-up concentrations by turning a spare floor in its campus building into a hub for entrepreneurs.

The German Tech Entrepreneurship Centre (GTEC), created in what was the records office in the former East German state chancellery building, is designed to be a suitably cool setting to act as a cultural bridge between academic teachers and Berlin’s hipster tech business founders.

The 1,200 square metre space is already home to six preselected early stage ventures, five of which were started by people who moved to the German capital from other parts of Europe, and the plan is to expand this number to 20 by the end of the year.

The venue will be open to others, including ESMT students, and will host open lectures and talks by partner companies, such as Henkel, RWE and Berlin-based entrepreneurship venture, the Globumbus Foundation.

Benjamin Rohé, ESMT professor and GTEC’s managing director, said the founding principle of the venue was to provide the infrastructure to enable a company to start from scratch and said he wanted the centre to be as open as possible whether the users be students and faculty members or founders and business owners.

“Academics, business and start-ups all talk different languages,” he said. “We are the translators.”

The German capital is home to a number of successful entrepreneurs, such as Rocket Internet founders Marc, Oliver and Alexander Samwer and Alex Ljung of online audio platform Sound Cloud.

The attraction of cheap office space and a vibrant city has attracted ambitious founders from across Europe and further afield such that Berlin is considered a rival to London as Europe’s largest tech start-up cluster.

“There is already a trend for entrepreneurship and research here and it’s by uniting diverse ideas, drives and resources present in Berlin that Germany can maintain its lead,” Mr Rohé said.

The venue may also help ESMT achieve a relevance to founders who have had no formal entrepreneurship training, which has proved a struggle for many business schools.

The school was founded by 25 multinational companies, giving it a different character to traditional German business schools. ESMT prides itself on nurturing entrepreneurial leaders, who think globally, act responsibly and respect the individual.

“The most important aspect of GTEC is that it provides an open platform for many entities to unite with the common interest of supporting local technology entrepreneurs,” Mr Rohé said.

Get alerts on Business school when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

Follow the topics in this article