Postcard from... Berlin


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The Independent Online

It is being hailed as the Teutonic answer to Silicon Valley so its promoters have somewhat predictably dubbed it “Silicon Allee”. Berlin’s digital start-up scene is located in the middle of what was once downtown communist East Berlin but every 20 hours a new company is reported to be established there.

Yet because Silicon Allee is in the heart of a risk-averse country, a lack of venture capital means it has so far failed to produce names that can compete with the likes of Google, although it is making big advances in computer gaming. This may explain why South Korean eSport  entrepreneur Jong Hwan Lee has chosen to make Berlin’s  his European headquarters.

Mr Lee aims to make computer gaming as popular in Europe as it is in South Korea where players are national celebrities. He says he has chosen Berlin because it attracts creative people and has digital start-up industry salaries comparable to those in London – but a cost of living which is 40 per cent lower.

Mr Lee has opened an online TV station to create video content for computer gamers. It may only be a matter of time before Europeans are forced to make difficult decisions: Should it be Match of the Day or the international computer game championships?