<!–:en–>Leipzig: Volga-Dnepr takes on new maintenance hangar<!–:–>

The Volga-Dnepr Group has inaugurated a new hangar at Leipzig/Halle Airport. Up to three Antonow AN-124 fit into the new maintenance hangar. The maintenance of Boeing 747 and 737/A320 planes is also planned.

After a good year of construction, a maintenance hangar was handed over today to Volga-Dnepr Technics GmbH at Leipzig/Halle Airport. The building of a 30 metre high, 94 metre wide and 90 metre long hangar cost 17.7 million euros. For the time being, the hangar has been leased to the company for 30 years.

According to the data, the maintenance hangar disposes of a total area of 8,500 metres squared and provides space for up to three airplanes of types Antonow AN-124 and Iljuschin IL-76TD, as well as Boeing 747 or four Boeing B737 or Airbus A320.

Before the end of this year in Leipzig the C-check for airplanes of type Boeing 747 should be included in the portfolio, informed Volga-Dnepr today. Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 planes should also be serviced in 2014. By the end of 2013 a repair station for aircraft wheels and brakes will be put into service; there are also plans for the construction of a repair station for aircraft components, according to company statements.

The taking on of the new maintenance base by Volga-Dnepr opens another chapter of excellent and amicable cooperation, says Dierk Näther, general manager of Leipzig/Halle Airport. The only European maintenance centre for machines of type Antonow has already been in operation at Leipzig/Halle Airport since 2007.

The Volga-Dnepr Group began expansion of its operations in Europe in 2004. The company has had two Antonow AN 124 permanently based at Leipzig/Halle Airport since 2006, which are out and about on humanitarian operations worldwide as part of the SALIS project “Strategic Air Lift Interim Solution” for NATO states, said the company general manager of Volga-Dnepr-Technics, Ildar Iljasov. The machines used are from Ruslan Salis GmbH, a subsidiary of the Russian Volga-Dnepr Group and the Ukrainian Antonov Airlines.


&lt;!–:en–&gt;Germany is digitally dependent&lt;!–:–&gt;&lt;!–:de–&gt;Deutschland ist digital abgehängt&lt;!–:–&gt;&lt;!–:ru–&gt;Германия отстала в цифровых технологиях &lt;!–:–&gt;


Out of the 100 most visited websites in the world there is not one “made in Germany”. Germany is only average in the Web Index compiled by WWW´s inventor Tim Berners-Lee. German software houses are also rarely recognized internationally. We are digitally dependent – and there are reasons for this.

This article is a direct translation of the a German article that was published in the German Manager Magazine here: Deutschland ist digital abgehängt

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are a significant factor in the Germany economy. According to information from the industry association Bitkom, in Germany in 2012 a turnover of about 150 million euros will be generated by about 850,000 employees. According to the management consultancy firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), yearly growth of the German internet economy, an essential component of the ICT industry, is at 8 percent, which will result in about 4 percent of the gross domestic product by 2016. This sector therefore has higher economic power than the mining or hotel and gastronomy industries.

ICT, a key cross-section industry, is strongly characterized by small and medium-sized businesses; at the same time, young and newly established businesses (e-entrepreneurship) have a specific role to play in driving innovation. The Federal Ministry of Economy and Technology (BMWi) records about 11,000 ICT business start-ups every year – a growing tendency. Experience shows that a number of innovation potentials from large, established businesses are overlooked, especially in the ICT sector – in this context, young and newly established businesses have the economic capacity to put such innovation potentials into practice and to implement them in marketable business models.

So this is not about just any industry, but about one of the most important key technologies of the present and the future. And it is exactly here that Germany is falling behind. What are the reasons for this?

Part 2: More educational opportunities for ICT business entrepreneurs are needed

Proposition 1: Low tendency for start-ups and high risk aversion of Germans combined with the difficulty to get young people enthusiastic about science subjects like Information Technology, damaging ICT start-ups.

International comparative studies such as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor show that Germany continues to have a low start-up tendency compared to other economically developed countries. In comparison, the Nascent Entrepreneurship Rate (start-up projects) in the USA is, in relative terms, more than twice as high as in Germany.

Also in relation to other European countries we lag behind England, the Netherlands, France and Sweden. The same is true for actual Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA). 540,000 new business activities are started every month in the USA, of which 12.2% are in the sector of e-commerce and online activities and 25.2% in the sector of internet publishing.

Start-ups in the high-technology sector fall by 25 percent

In contrast, in Germany start-up activities in the high-technology sector, which also includes the ICT industries, fell by 25 percent, according to a study by the Mannheim Centre for European Economic Research. At the same time, the industry association Bitkom diagnosed a shortage of 35,000 skilled personnel. German graduates are not sufficient to close this gap and in principle prefer activities in dependent employment. As a result, the problem of ICT businesses gets worse, if especially young businesses of this industry are considered.

Proposition 2: There is a lack of development of specific educational opportunities for ICT business entrepreneurs, as general start-up teaching without any related industries is not sufficient for an increase in ICT start-ups.

The education and socialization of ICT experts consistently neglects the development of a business mentality. University and high school curricula are primarily directed towards activity in research and large businesses. As a result, skill promotion at universities is concentrating on business administration programs – it is necessary to increase the number of students who register for information technology degree programs. At the same time, empirical studies have shown that ICT business entrepreneurs are substantially younger when compared to other high-technology entrepreneurs – education must therefore be started as early as possible.

The promotion of business foundation professorships by the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) in the 1990s should consequently be resumed again – this time with business interface professorships for example to technical universities, which explicitly educate business entrepreneurs.

Strengthening education of ICT experts

Compare: There are currently about 90 professorships in entrepreneurship at universities, advanced technical colleges and other colleges, of which there are “only” 20 with ICT-related topics or research field and only two with “e-entrepreneurship“ explicitly as the central topic (Göttingen Technical College and Duisburg-Essen University). By contrast, there are over 90 professorships in Controlling and Marketing at universities alone!

Every leading university in the USA now has an entrepreneurship professorship, and in many cases also an incubator, which is often run in cooperation with businesses or private foundations. High-tech start-ups, which also include ICT start-ups, are the focus. An entire start-up industry has partly been established around universities (for example MIT).

Part 3: Lack of innovative forms of start-up financing

Proposition 3: There is a lack of innovative forms of start-up financing, for example the national co-investment program for business angels or university seed funds for university start-ups, needed to increase ICT start-ups.    

In spite of a relatively small capital requirement, a study by the Federal Ministry of Economics has shown that more than 40 percent of ICT entrepreneurs consider business financing to be the greatest problem. Even private involvement in the financial support of ICT business entrepreneurs in the early stages of business development is still relatively small in Germany.

There are about 5000 so-called Business Angels in Germany, that is, informal private investors, whereas in the USA there are an estimated 200,000 active Business Angels. Both countries turn out a comparable potential of solvent and qualified investors, so a tenfold increase of German Business Angels would be feasible. According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, up to now only about 13 percent of young ICT businesses are supported by Business Angels. As a result, start-ups in ICT industries in the USA are provided with x-times more starting capital in half the time than in Germany.

National co-investment programs could contribute further, as far as possible distortion-free, to intervene in this under-developed market and to support and develop this essential investor type. Instead, it pursues the news of the planned discontinuation of tax incentives for holding companies like a bombshell in the start-up landscape. This gives the wrong signal, because instead it needs to think about how positive incentives for more investment could be created, as in the end more investment also means more businesses and with it more employment and tax revenue.

Young entrepreneurs lack financial support

Great Britain is a good example here. The “Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme” enables private investors to make seed investments (no longer than two years) in businesses and then deduct up to 50 percent of their investment – up to 100,000 pounds – from income tax every year. There should also be more incentives for the increase of Corporate Venture Capital. For example there could be a deferment of capital gains taxes (“roll-over”) or a reduction, when these are newly invested in a young business.

It would also be preferable to strengthen participation of universities in start-ups, for example by university seed funds. However studies at Dortmund Technical University show that uncertain legal conditions cause reluctance on the part of universities.

We can also find good examples of this – unfortunately somewhere else… such as the university seed funds in England. The British government set up a funding pool beginning with more than 45 million pounds to convert “good research” into “good business”. From then onwards universities were able to apply for grants of up to 250,000 pounds, to promote commercialization of their research results.

The goal of the seed fund was to establish a start-up culture at English universities and to bring science and economy closer together. It is important to note that it is not research that is promoted, but technology transfer! Therefore research results and/or patents must be there already. 53 successful start-ups, with numerous jobs, are emerging from the funded research projects. And at the end of bridge financing there were further investors available for many university start-ups, contributing a total of over 17 million pounds.

Special university seed funds for specific locations, partly in cooperation with private investors can also be seen internationally: a 6.5 million dollar venture fund has been set up at the University of Rochester with the University Technology Seed Fund, which is funded together by the Trillium Group and the university.

While public universities in Germany continue to take a backseat, it seems that at least the private universities are doing something. The initiative “VenCube” of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management has collected a million euros, to aid students, graduates and faculty members in business start-ups.

The European Business School (EBS) in Oestrich-Winkel is also creating start-up support. Its strong department “Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship” of 55 members has been building the “House of Ventures” start-up centre since the end of 2011. In the medium term, EBS would also like to create a pool – in the form of a foundation or a fund – to be able to invest financially in promising start-ups. EBS aims to hand out a total of five million euros.

Part 4: Germany should develop a start-up metropolis

Proposition 4: Long-term development of an “ICT start-up metropolis” is still lacking, this would allow Germany to benefit from its Frankfurt/M. finance centre as well as from an ICT capital as an international cluster.

Centres and densely-populated IHK districts are already showing disproportionately high start-up birth rates in the ICT sector. Economic-geographical studies have shown that the innovation potential of a region is increasing disproportionately to the number of inhabitants. In relation to European countries, it can be observed accordingly that three regions (Paris, Lombardy and Madrid) together already make up 10 percent of ICT activities in Europe. The London start-up metropolis is still to be included.

German metropolises such as Berlin or Munich are falling behind and as a result should be strengthened – according to the figures presented by Bitkom, 4,400 Berliners set up ICT businesses, an example of an adequate basis. Whether there must necessarily be only one start-up city can be debated.

Several start-up clusters could make sense

A glance at the USA shows that several start-up clusters make sense and work. Of course Silicon Valley is naturally the hotspot for high-tech entrepreneurs, creating 1202 new businesses in 2011, which received a total of over twelve million dollars in venture capital, but special programs and local politics in New York have enabled at least 390 new start-ups in 2011, receiving a total of 2.75 million dollars. In the first half of 2012 alone, a further 182 have been created.

Proposition 5: An awareness of ICT entrepreneurs and general conditions is still missing, in order for Germany to establish its own innovative ICT business model throughout the world and therefore to give ICT start-ups a place in the global market.

Start-up birth rates in the ICT sector, which remain far behind its real potential, must be accompanied by a focus on the major technological trends in the USA. In order to increase the absolute number of start-ups in the really high potential sectors, it will also be necessary to increase the start-up birth rate through innovative business models. More innovative entrepreneurs go hand in hand with more entrepreneurs in this new field.

Of course “copying isn´t always copying” and it is difficult to compete against the start-up and financing culture of the USA; nevertheless copycats and innovations must not be ruled out in Germany. Successful copycats were important to restart a functioning e-entrepreneurship ecosystem in Germany, but we will never catch up with the others if we don’t also create our own innovations and have the courage to finance them.

Part 5: Conclusion

Against this background, Germany needs a comprehensive ICT start-up agenda in order to reconnect to the digital leaders. As a result, the cornerstones must be:

• Factor I for “Individuality“: Measures for the education of ICT entrepreneurs and ICT personnel as well as image improvement and raising the profile of ICT entrepreneurs in Germany.

• Factor C for “Capital“: Measures for innovative financing and support schemes for the financial aid of ICT entrepreneurs in Germany.

• Factor T for “Transfer“: Measures for technical (broadband) and communicative (network) infrastructure for ICT entrepreneurs within an ICT metropolis.

Furthermore we need a political point of contact in the area of ICT start-ups, in the form of nationwide representatives within the federal government. That would be a strong and important sign for the ICT start-up landscape in Germany.

This article is a direct translation of the a German article that was published in the German Manager Magazine here: Deutschland ist digital abgehängt