The coalition talks of the next German government are well underway, and one of the hot topics will be its future digital agenda. During the election campaign Angela Merkel repeatedly said that Germany’s digital transformation is key to the success of Europe’s economic powerhouse. She equally acknowledged that here is a lot of room to catch up in order to play among the the digital economy leaders of the world.
While Merkel’s CDU, the Liberals and the Greens are sitting together haggling over their combined vision for Germany’s digital future, Thomas Jarzombek (CDU) was on stage with Ralf Wenzel, the Chief Strategy Officer of Delivery Hero. The online food delivery service, based in Berlin, completed its IPO this year. Ralf Wenzel explained that one of the reasons for an IPO was the lack of other ways to raise funds. The German digital economy is still regarded with suspicion from the risk averse German investors, which is why Ralf Wenzel calls for more education about the digital economy. Afterall there is capital in Germany and Europe ,or as moderator Clark Parsons pointed out: “Germany is not poor! But capital is not made accessible.”
In Thomas Jarzombek’s view a lot has happened over the past four years at least. Germany has engaged with the European Investment Fund, the Tech Growth Fund is being set up with several Billion Euro, aimed at Startups that need investment in the growth phase rather than kick off capital. And Thomas Jarzombek said the next phase will be even more conducive for creating the right climate for the digital economy to grow in Germany, not least because it’s time to turn to institutional investors as well as private money.
Clark Parsons raised another topic specific for Germany’s and Europe’s digital economy - the platform based enterprise. Ralf Wenzel agreed: “We’re good at creating platforms, not at building hardware.” And that’s what makes data protection a highly sensitive topic for Germany’s digital companies. One of the great potential’s for a company like Delivery Hero is that it’s also a data harvesting machine. Up to now the perspective for platform based startups was clouded by data regulations that restrict the market rather than protecting consumer data. Ralf Wenzel puts great hope in the new digital agenda of the German government to ease these restrictions. “If you can’t access data you can’t make a successful business”, Clark Parsons added in support of Ralf Wenzel’s argument.
Thomas Jarzombek is optimistic that the question of regulation as well as investment will be tackled head on: “Angela Merkel understands the mechanics of the digital economy, she’s committed to make Germany an attractive place for it.” Expectations are high and now it shouldn’t be long before the coalition talks reach that point on their agenda - Digital Economy.