Cooperation of Start-ups and SMEs in Germany

September 22, 2020

The cooperation between established SMEs and innovative start-ups offers considerable opportunities for the respective companies and the German economy. New business models can be adopted, and innovative products can be jointly developed.


In particular, the digitalization of the ‘German Mittelstand’ could receive a boost through collabo-ration with digital start-ups. This could lead to an increase in the demographically induced declining growth potential of the German economy. In order to exploit the full potential of cooperation, cultural differences between the two types of the company must be overcome and in case of different regional focal points, the initiation of contacts must be facilitated. Based on expert interviews in start-ups, SMEs, and associations, this policy paper identifies opportunities to strengthen cooperative relationships between established SMEs and the growing start-up scene. The paper concludes with ten policy recommendations.