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Business

Factory Berlin to increase startup incubator space in Wilmington

State officials helped cement trade ties with Germany Monday morning by joining a ribbon cutting for a new startup incubator in Wilmington.

Set just off the heart of Market Street in Wilmington, Factory Berlin is remodeling the street level space into a haven for entrepreneurs.

Their original location in Berlin boasts shared working spaces, meeting rooms, and a membership of 800 startups to network with.

"We want to build a bridge between the states and Europe," said Udo Schloemer, founder and CEO of Factory Berlin.

"Young companies in Germany [are] looking to grow to America. It's important for us to have a bridge, and otherwise, the startup companies from America like Google, like Facebook, like Uber, they want to come to Europe and they're also looking for a bridge," Schloemer said.

His daughter Sascia is spearheading Factory’s new Wilmington location. She says the company wants to expand onto American soil because people here are more adventurous.

“They’re not scared to fail, they’re not scared for it to not work out because they just try it and in Germany that’s not really common. People are really scared to make mistakes because they think they will be judged,” she said.

The Berlin location hosts 600 networking and educational events a year in Germany, with company officials saying they want to hold at least 50 annually in Delaware.

Already Europe’s largest startup incubator, the elder Schloemer says he wants to grow from just under half a million square feet of space in the German capital to five million square feet over the next five years.

Part of that will come from a second Berlin location expected to open in June.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jack Markell (D), announced Europe’s largest incubator would open its first foreign outpost in Delaware during his State of the State Address.

He’s made it a goal to increase global ties under his tenure as international markets expand, taking trade trips to Germany, Chile, South Korea and, most recently, India.

“We want the people of Delaware to participate in that growth and so whether that is through exports, whether that’s through attracting foreign direct investment, it’s all good,” Markell said.

Factory Berlin will have competition. The Mill and 1313 Innovation offer similar co-working spaces and services in Wilmington.

The incubator charges 50 euros a month for its membership, or about $53 at its German location, but it’s unclear what its American price tag will be.

The Wilmington location is expected to open this spring.