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Business in Munich

Munich’s innovation ecosystem

Munich drives innovation in Germany. The region’s exceptional innovation ecosystem attracts not only major tech companies, but also outstanding talents from around the globe, who come here to study, research, work in a local company or start their own business.

Driving innovation

Universities and non-university research institutions, companies and startups, as well as public and private initiatives, all help to advance cutting-edge research, innovative products and groundbreaking solutions to challenges facing society.

On the one hand, the quality of the ecosystem arises from the strength of individual players in the region. Equally important, however, is that these players form partnerships and joint initiatives to push innovation in Munich. Support and funding comes from federal state initiatives, the Free State of Bavaria, the City of Munich, and from within the ecosystem itself.

Picture: Research at the TUM Chair for "Anwendungen in der Medizin" (Medical Applications)

Forschung am TUM Lehrstuhl für Anwendungen in der Medizin

City of Munich initiatives

The City of Munich is committed to supporting innovation in the region. The Economic Development Department aims to link organizations and promote dialog in the ecosystem, thus helping to create ideal conditions for innovation while also communicating the strengths of Munich’s ecosystem to the outside world.


  • Munich Innovation Ecosystem – set up by the German Entrepreneurship GmbH, Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship, and UnternehmerTUM, with funding from Gründerland Bayern, the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs (StMWi), and the City of Munich.
  • Social Entrepreneurship Academy (SEA) – a partnership between UniBW, HM, LMU, TUM, UnternehmerTUM, SCE, founders@unibw, German Entrepreneurship
  • Ludwig-Bölkow-Campus, Taufkirchen – consortium comprising Airbus, Bauhaus Luftfahrt, DLR, HM, TUM, IABG, Siemens, Universität der Bundeswehr Space Research Center, supported by StMWi, esa Business Incubation Center, Germany – Land of Ideas
  • Bauhaus Luftfahrt, Taufkirchen: Aviation Think Tank, supported by Airbus, DLR, IABG, Liebherr, MTU, StMWi
  • Munich Quantum Valley – association to develop and operate quantum computers in Bavaria. Members are BAdW, DLR, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, LMU, Max Planck Society and TUM. Funded by the Free State of Bavaria.
  • DICA - Drink Innovation Campus – accelerator program of the drinks industry
  • LabCampus – innovation center on the site of the former Munich Airport, supported by Fraunhofer IIS, FAU, Sony Music, ZD.B, iB Hubs, Business Creators, Trendone, Innosabi, SCL, MUST, SCE

  • Insurtech Hub – initiative set up by, among others, Allianz, Generali Deutschland, Munich Re, Nürnberger Versicherung, Versicherungskammer Bayern.
  • Digital Hub Mobility – funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. BMW Group, Nokia, SAP, SWM, DB, infineon
  • AI+ Munich – partners: Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship, Munich Center for Digital Sciences and Artificial Intelligence at the Munich University of Applied Sciences, UnternehmerTUM and TUM Venture Labs, MUST
  • Munich Global Impact Hub – funded and supported by BMWi’s EXIST-Potentials program
  • German Entrepreneurship GmbH – supports European and international startups with tailored programs German Accelerator, Scaler8, EU-India Innocenter, Master Accelerator and Scale-up.NRW.
  • Acatech – German National Academy of Science and Engineering – advises policymakers and society on issues relating to science and engineering. 


Munich’s universities draw many people to the city. Home to 22 universities, universities of applied science, and academies, and almost 140,000 students, Munich has the second highest density of universities in Germany.

Munich’s two largest universities, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM), are among Germany’s Universities of Excellence and ranked among the top 100 universities worldwide. However other, smaller institutions such as the University of Television and Film (HFF), which boasts several Oscar-winning graduates, also enjoy an excellent international reputation.

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz, Blick von Norden

Munich’s universities conduct first-class research in highly diverse disciplines. Four Clusters of Excellence are supported as part of Germany’s Excellence Initiative, in which the LMU and TUM collaborate with numerous non-university research institutions.


Startup centers

Munich’s universities have special training programs and entrepreneurship centers for their students so that applied research can be transferred to products or business models and benefit society as a whole. UnternehmerTUM, the innovation and business-creation center run by the TUM, is the largest center of its kind in Europe. More than 1,000 startups have been launched or supported here in the last 20 years.

Another noteworthy joint project of Munich’s universities is the Social Entrepreneurship Academy (SEA), which trains and supports people whose business ideas aim to solve societal challenges.


Thanks to growing investment and support, the number of startups in Munich has soared since 2017. The region’s roughly 2,000 startups are active in very diverse fields. One focus is deep-tech startups, where technological innovations play a key role.

For example, Celonis, Munich’s most successful startup with a value of over ten billion dollars, develops data mining software that allows companies to optimize processes. Alongside the “decacorn” Celonis, Munich is home to six other “unicorns” valued at a billion dollars or more.


  • Startups and new business

    Munich’s startup scene benefits from a tried-and-true network of successful major corporations, established startups, and an excellent university and research environment full of outstanding minds and institutional supporters.

    Gründer- und Innovationszentrum

Unicorns in Munich

startups (2022)

million euros invested (2021)

unicorns (2024)

Venture Capital

Investment in Munich startups has risen significantly since 2017. The 140 venture capital and private equity companies in the region are a key advantage for Munich. Companies here also value the innovative power and pace with which startups can push new developments. That’s why numerous established Munich companies like BMW and Giesecke+Devrient invest in startups using their own venture capital companies, both in Munich and around the world.


Companies drive innovation in Munich with their R&D activities. BMW alone employs around 26,000 people in its Research and Innovation Center (FIZ). Other major Munich companies such as MTU Aero Engines, Siemens, Knorr-Bremse and MAN also invest heavily in R&D. The number of international companies, including Google, Intel, IBM, Huawei, NTT Docomo, and Kraft Foods that have set up centers for development in Munich is also remarkable. Apple is investing two billion dollars in a new chip design center in Munich. The companies benefit from Munich’s innovation ecosystem and often mention access to graduates from Munich’s universities and proximity to existing and potential customers and partners as key regional advantages.


Successful partnerships

Since June 2024, 700 SAP employees and 120 researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have been working together in the field of artificial intelligence at the new SAP R&D centre, SAP Labs Munich Campus, on the TUM campus in Garching.

The focus is on topics such as the digital supply chain, the environment, social issues and governance, the future of work, synthetic data, and quantum computing.

With this collaboration, Germany's largest software company and TUM are deepening their long-standing relationship. SAP and TUM have already agreed to launch a long-term research partnership in 2019. The Munich Urban Colab is also an SAP partner.

Gemeinsames Forschungszentrum von SAP und TUM

Research institutions

Two of the world’s most illustrious research institutions, the Max Planck Society, which primarily conducts basic research in the natural, life and social sciences, and the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, the world’s leading organization for application-based research, have their headquarters in Munich. Both institutions also have many other institutes in Munich and the surrounding region. Other important research institutions in Munich include the Helmholtz Center Munich – German Research Center for Environmental Health, several Leibniz Institutes, and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Key events relating to innovation