A talk with Bavaria's Nerd-in-Chief

Judith Gerlach, Bavaria's State Minister of Digital Affairs, about how to attract tech talent and keep later stage startups in Germany

It's not happening too often that a politician becomes a founder as well.

But it's surely the case for Judith Gerlach, an inspiring young politician, who was Bavaria’s first State Minister of Digital Affairs when she took office a year ago. Since then she has built Germany's first ministry of digital affairs ever from the ground up, starting back in the early days when there wasn’t anything at all in the office.

"Actually, we're like a start-up (...) I had to build it all up from scratch. I realized that it takes a huge amount of motivation to get something like this up and running. And not only from me, but also from the people who work here."

In the Bits & Pretzels Podcast Minister Gerlach discusses the upsetting lack of a supporting ecosystem for entrepreneurs and what to do to fight digital dead zones in rural parts of the country:

"In terms of infrastructure, we are not positioned in a way that a modern, innovative country should be."

She thinks that a Ministry for Digital Affairs on a federal level could help improving the visibility for all things digital and to establish one point of contact for entrepreneurs and innovators.

As the State Minister points out, the government should do more to support later-stage startups, since many of them are bought up by companies from outside Germany.

"We want these companies to stay and grow here in Bavaria. We train great people here and then they leave with their idea, which is a dramatic development for us of course."

And what else does Judith Gerlach think is needed to push for more innovation in Germany? Courage and confidence.

"We have to jump boldly into the future, and I think we need a little push here and there and the right confidence to make it happen."

2:22: Judith Gerlach about being the founder of the first Ministry of Digital Affairs in Germany
6:59: Gosh, that's a men's business: The pains and pleasures of being a young women in politics
10:12 How the Ministry convinces tech people to start working for the government
14:27 What kind of culture Judith Gerlach introduced in the Ministry
18:43: Does Germany need a Federal Digital Ministry for Digital Affairs?
20:49 Beer Garden Break: The number of Mass you can drink and still make good political decisions
25:10: Fridays for Future & why Judith Gerlach would have liked to skip school
26:52: The Special Place: Why the Bavarian State Minister of Digital Affairs spends so much time in her car
32:43: Either-Or-Game: Nerds don't belong into politics

Production: Migo Fecke, Regina Körner, Hubert Honold.