In a unique global partnership, a 28-year-old Chinese serial entrepreneur, Startup Genome, Goethe University, and TechQuartier have come together to identify key factors in the success and growth of startup ecosystems. The project will focus on the fast-growing startup ecosystem in Frankfurt, Germany, and will generate findings that can be applied to regions across the world.

Yi Shi has built up one of Asia’s unicorn startups, DotC United Group, and has extensive international experience with large companies and startups. Studying at Goethe University motivated Shi to invest into this research initiative on the German startup ecosystem.

“I’ve been travelling between different continents (America, Europe and Asia) regularly and discovered different mindsets which impact the final approach and methodology in building a new business. And my intention to support this study, together with my alma mater, is to systematically analyze the macro and micro economic factors of building a successful startup ecosystem, in order to get a deep understanding of which measures could be done better by different stakeholders inside of the system.”

The study will use the Frankfurt Rhine-Main region and the German ecosystem as a basis for comparison with other global startup landscapes, identifying decisive framework conditions and growth drivers. A particular focus will be on the so-called scale-ups— i.e., young, fast-growing companies. A newly developed index will include growth conditions and success factor, and provide actionable insights for the German startup scene.

Startup Genome has been selected as the organization providing the international context of this project. The San Francisco-based company is the world leader in startup ecosystem assessment, delivering analytics and advice to innovation policy leaders in 30 countries to support the development of thriving startup communities. “The problem” explains CEO JF Gauthier, “is that four cities in three countries produce more than 70 percent of Exit Value in the Tech sector. We work to identify success factors so more cities and countries can benefit from the economic value generated by startups.”

Goethe University Frankfurt and TechQuartier will bring research experience and the latest scientific findings on the topic of entrepreneurship. Their growing experience with German startups will allow them provide the Startup Genome team with additional data and resources required for the project. “We definitely need a better understanding of what makes talented youngsters transform into entrepreneurial leaders—whether they start their own business or innovate within existing firms. The study will test our hypothesis and then pave the way for tailor-made offerings of Goethe University to its students,” said Prof. Andreas Hackethal, dean at Goethe University and Academic Director of the Goethe-Unibator startup center.

Dr. Thomas Funke, Co-Director of TechQuartier, observed, “Startups alone will not save the German digital economy. Scaleups have the potential to do so. Therefore we are focusing in particular on scaleups, all startups that are characterized by continuous growth (20 percent growth over the last three years). They deserve special attention because they are an undisputed important element for the whole economy.”

New and reliable insights into the startup scene are important to clarify the key performance indicators and the success factors that are essential to a new company’s performance. This project will generate relevant data-driven insights, clarify which measures need to be implemented next, and identify how stakeholders can significantly contribute to improve the ecosystem. The study is scheduled to be published in June 2018.