The state of Rhineland-Palatinate with the state capital of Mainz does not particularly easily play a relevant role in the startup map. Frankfurt am Main and Darmstadt and neighboring Wiesbaden compete for founders. But even if Mainz has not yet been mentioned in the annual Startup Monitor issues: life as a founder is lively and, above all, well connected.
As we were able to learn from observing some start-up ecosystems in smaller cities: this is exactly where the high-quality hubs of the start-up scene often develop into manageable structures. And that of Mainz is something to be proud of.
Compared to its own federal state, the number of start-ups in the state capital is significantly higher.
And the city opposite the mouth of the Main on the Rhine has a lot to offer economically and can also be an inspiring address for founders.
Factor 1: Future prospects – Mainz as a business location
If you look at the factors of productivity, gross income and investment in Mainz's economy and infrastructure, then the city is in a good position.
The economic mix is on a par with major industries
- Media and digital
- Cultural and creative
- Life sciences and biotechnology
A nice and currently very well known example of biotechnology is BioNTech – the company that first developed a vaccine against COVID-19 and theirs Founder with the Federal Cross of Merit they have been rewarded.
These are the most important companies in Mainz
- The largest employer in Mainz: die University medicine at the Johannes Gutenberg University with almost 8,000 employees and over 600 trainees in 60 clinics and institutes and an annual turnover of around 750 million euros.
- Second place – how appropriate – that ZDF extension. The second German television employs approx 3,000 employees and about 4,500 freelancers. ZDF's market share is around 13%, which is higher than Erste Deutsche Fernsehen (ARD).
- THE Schott AG has round 2,800 employees in Mainz, the industrial group's annual sales exceed two billion euros.
- The fourth largest employer is DB Regional Bus Mitte GmbH with 1,800 employees, followed by the Municipal utility of Mainz with approx 1,500 people.
- Also essential Südwestrundfunk (SWR) – Issuer of the ARD – with approx 1,300 employees at the Mainz site.
- There are other big companies Marienhaus Klinikum Mainz (1,500), the DB Cargo AG (1.200), the Mainz Volksbank (900), Mobility of Mainz (800), BioNTech, Werner and Mertz (760) and the credit insurer coface (550).
In essence, Mainz entrepreneurs see the future positively: 42% expect an increase in sales. Optimism also dominates regarding location policy: 21% foresee an expansion, against just 2% of those who believe that the site will be abandoned in the next 5 years. These are the figures from the current Mainz Business Monitor (2020).
Benefits for founders:
Strong and large companies can be important partners for founders. Here you can develop and test new products and services in a professional environment. Or you can gain first experience as a working student and, above all, make first contacts and discuss your start-up idea on a completely different level.
Many of the companies are constantly looking for innovations. There is a need and money for your ideas.
“Mainz is exactly the right size for founders: a new company is noticed and the relevant players get to know each other quickly and easily. A distinct advantage over Berlin! Furthermore, the inhabitants of Mainz are always interested in networking and cooperation”.
Nina Wansart, head of the Gutenberg Digital Hub
Factor 2: Universities and Institutes – Technologically well positioned
University of Mainz AND Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz have in common with the largest employer in the city, the University Medicine Mainz, one of leading business incubators established: That Founding office Mainz primarily serves all university members interested in starting a company and alumni in the pre-foundation stage.
Interested parties receive information and advice on the targeted university spin-off and funding opportunities through the EXIST program of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.
Indeed the Gutenberg Digital Center developed into a particularly important centre. In addition to the coworking offers in the hub, the Mainz start-up scene networks here. Webinars, meetups, and founder advisory services are offered.
A wide range of topics are discussed and worked on in the Gutenberg Digital Hub focus groups. Over 100 companies from the region have already gathered here.
In addition, various events, such as the Hub Lunch, Terrace Beer and Meet a Founder, bring together the Hub's colleagues, club members and neighbors in a relaxed atmosphere.
Research institutes in Mainz
You will find a particularly high level of excellence in Mainz in research institutes.
THE Helmholtz-Institute Mainz (HIM) is an institutional cooperation of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt. Combine the academic world of a university with the scientific possibilities of an internationally renowned accelerator centre. The centerpiece of the work is the FAIR accelerator complex, currently under construction in Darmstadt. In addition to the high-quality chemical and laser laboratories, the institute's new building in Mainz also features a clean room which is used, for example, for the assembly and preparation of superconducting accelerator modules. The institute's HIMster II computer cluster enables complex computer simulations, and researchers also have access to the university's MOGON II computer, which is currently the fastest high-performance computer at a German university.
THE Fraunhofer IMM works in the fields of energy and chemical technology as well as analysis and sensor systems. Here scientists provide transfer services from scientific idea to innovation. This allows us to improve the reliability and effectiveness of compact material and energy conversion systems as well as decentralized and mobile energy supply units.
Even that Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) offers ideal conditions for excellent research: from the creative design of new materials, through their synthesis in the laboratory to their physical characterization and finally the theoretical understanding of polymer properties, it brings together all the necessary specialist skills. It is one of the leading international research centers in the field of polymer science.
THE Max Planck Institute for Chemistry it is one of the two oldest institutes of the Max Planck Society. It was founded in 1912 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry in Berlin and moved to Mainz in 1949. Notable scientists in the institute's history are Nobel Prize winners Richard Willstätter, Otto Hahn and Paul Crutzen. The Max Planck Institute for Chemistry is nicknamed the Otto Hahn Institute after the former director and president of the Max Planck Society. It aims at an integral understanding of chemical processes in the Earth system, particularly in the atmosphere and biosphere. Various interactions between air, water, soil, life and climate are examined throughout the earth's history up to the current human-influenced era, the Anthropocene.
Benefits for founders
Concentrated knowledge and strong research have two main effects for founders:
- it can be assumed that a lot of openness to innovation and a startup mentality can be expected in this environment
- you can deepen your know-how in entrepreneurship more or less directly at universities and institutes.
“I founded in Mainz in 2018. The good connections in the Rhine-Main area and the warm mentality of the Meenzer:innen also convinced me to move here. And this as Wiesbadener :-)”
Aidien Assefi, founder of circl.link
Factor 3: Perfect transport links
A curse and a blessing at the same time: Mainz is located in the Rhine-Main area and that means proximity to Frankfurt, Darmstadt and Wiesbaden. Long-distance and local trains run several times an hour to Frankfurt Airport, 25 km away. Hahn Airport, which is just over 80 km from Mainz, is served by a direct bus connection. Thanks to the S-Bahn connection, you can travel to Frankfurt, Hanau and Offenbach every 30 minutes.
You can also be in Paris in 4 hours by train.
Benefits for founders:
Mainz's location should be your advantage: you are quickly in the financial center no. 1 in Germany, other major cities are nearby. So the market is also big.
Factor 4: Startup centers and hubs: These are the enablers in Mainz
Mainz is well stocked with business incubators: that Technology center, seat of foundation of universities, EULE e.V – there is a lot of support for you. A suit Here you will find an overview of the start-up centers and important addresses Here.
Factor 5: startup mentality in Mainz
Mainz is significantly shaped by its almost 40,000 students, it is full of offers and niches.
The start-up scene in Mainz has understood networking and this can be seen not only in the cooperation between the big players, but also within the culture and art scene and in the manageable start-up scene. People get to know each other and start-up events are very suitable for getting to know the most important players in the scene and networking with each other.
There are still financeable spaces, even if, as in all cities, they are increasingly crowded. The vacancy rate in the city center is relatively low (about 3.16%).
A good action in the local stadium shows how skillfully a city makes something of its opportunities:
Energy entrepreneur Matthias Willenbacherwhich with its online platform Wiwin.de Investments in sustainable startups and prepared projects, brings startups to the founders box of the Bundesliga football club Mainz 05. This is where founders, investors and multipliers meet and network.
“I never thought about starting my company in a city other than Mainz. The geographical location, the combination of business, media, science and joie de vivre as well as the understanding of the importance of digitization and sustainability have not made me regret this decision so far.”
Dr Oliver Kemmann, founder of the full-service digital agency KEMWEB, serial entrepreneur
Mainz in numbers
- 221,000 inhabitants
- 112,000 employees subject to social security contributions
- 39,000 students
- Unemployment rate of 5.3%.
- Export rate of 44.3%.
- Vacancy rate of 3.16% (mall)
- 97.58% of chain stores in prime locations
- pending previous balance: +30,000
- 2,000 business registrations/year
- 10 coworking spaces
- 15 non-university research institutes
- 4 colleges
- over 4,000 scientists
Conclusion on the Mainz start-up ecosystem
The start-up scene in the state capital still has potential. But the one who starts over has many docks where he can first dock his young ship.