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Does the chemical Industry need startups?


University of Applied Sciences Fresenius, Idstein, Germany


The chemical industry is prospering and developing just fine. Profits have been growing for years now. At the same time, the chemical industry in Germany invests only 5% of its turn over into innovation. So where will desperately needed innovations to solve current challenges like climate change, massive pollution and scarce resources come from? We desperately need startups in the chemistry related industry. Founders that take a risk, go beyond imagination and try something different. However, there are hardly any chemistry related startups in Germany, today. We need to foster a culture of entrepreneurship in the chemical sector.

Whilst the few chemical startups in Germany are struggling to convince investors with little to none exit channels, the chemical industry is developing superbly, without being too innovative.


The chemical industry in Germany does not need start-ups. This is the impression you could get, when looking at the numbers. Between 5 and 25 chemistry related startups are started every year. A rather small number considering the more than 3.000 companies in the industry (Figure 1). 


The chemical industry together with the pharmaceutical industry is the third largest industry in Germany. Just after the machine building- and automobile-industry. However, when comparing the share of revenue invested into innovation, the chemical industry seems to be reluctant to push forward. With 5% share of its revenue, it is far behind industries such as the pharmaceutical industry (18%), electronic industry (13%), shipping and train industry (9%) and machine building industry investing 6% of its revenue into innovation. The number of startups founded in the respective area reflects this. 31,6% of all startups ...

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