Software development is one of Munich’s (München) most significant and quickly growing sectors. The city’s successful economy is increasingly tech-focused, attracting companies and software engineers and other IT specialists to Munich and its wider metropolitan area.
This resource is designed to give a detailed lowdown on the sector and covers:
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The city of Munich, or München to native German speakers, is the capital of Bavaria and, with a population of 1.5 million, Germany’s third largest city after Berlin and Hamburg. Munich’s metropolitan region, which hosts a population of 6 million, is Germany’s fifth most populous.
Economically, however, Munich is a powerhouse that punches well above its weight in both the German and EU context. In 2019, Munich added 23,704 full-time, socially insured jobs, representing a 2.8% gain year-on-year. Over five years, the number of socially insured jobs has grown by 12.6% with an unemployment rate of just 3.5% in 2019 – Germany’s best for years now.
Munich’s average per capita purchasing power is, at around €33,000, the highest in Germany and one of the highest in Europe. The city is also surrounded by Germany’s two wealthiest rural regions, by the same measure – the Starnberg rural district (EUR 32,901 per capita) and Munich rural district (EUR 32,650 per capita).
The city’s economic success has become a virtuous circle, with record 2018 business tax revenues of €2.7 billion giving the local government the financial firepower to invest in further developing Munich as a key European business hub.
Munich is also considered one of Germany and Europe’s most dynamic innovation hubs. It benefits from a healthy mix of global blue chip corporations, forward-thinking midcaps and is a proven breeding ground for exciting and often successful startups, with an active community and good access to venture finance supporting their growth.
Munich is one of Germany and Europe’s most digitally progressive urban centres, with a highly skilled workforce and internationally renowned research organisations and higher education institutes. Over the years, local government prioritising investment in digital transformation culture and infrastructure has paid off, creating an environment that has promoted the development of new technology-centric products and services in the city and surrounding area.
With the most highly educated workforce of any German city, it should come as no surprise that Munich has a thriving tech scene and software development sector.
Munich boasts the largest concentration of technology companies in the TecDAX index, whose constituents are the 30 biggest German technology firms. Six of those 30 are represented in the Bavarian capital: Cancom SE, Infineon Technologies SE, MorphoSys AG, Nemetschek SE, Siltronic AG and Telefónica Deutschland AG.
Rivalled by only Berlin is Munich’s dynamic startup scene. Its vibrancy and health is thanks to a tight-knit ecosystem that nicely links startups with universities, research institutes, local government, investors and established companies including the many corporate giants based in the area.
A 2018 PwC study showed 96% of the startups based in Munich rate the regional startup ecosystem in and around the city as good to very good. The city’s digital infrastructure and opportunities to collaborate with established companies, many of whom financially support the Munich startup scene and individual companies, are the two most positive factors highlighted by startup founders themselves.
A report by Startup Genome “Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) – Succeeding in the New Era of Technology” values Munich’s startup ecosystem at $4.5 billion and rates Munich as a world leader for young technology companies in the fields of:
Munich’s Department of Labour and Economic Development, in partnership with the Chamber for Industry and Commerce for Munich and Upper-Bavaria have been running the Munich Business Startup Office (MEB) for over 20 years now. The office offers a valuable foundational resource for startup founders, providing information, education and coaching through materials available online, weekly events and over 1000 consulting sessions a year.
Some of the Munich region’s most notable startups include:
Flixbus, the low carbon and low cost European bus network which is now the continent’s largest, offering 2,500 travel destinations in 34 countries. Considered a tech company because of its online booking model, Flixbus recently entered the US market.
Lilium is developing drone-like air taxis designed for regional transport and is undoubtedly one of Munich’s most exciting startups to watch.
Blickfeld provides 3D light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology, which allows intelligent machines to ‘see’, enabling autonomous vehicles.
KEWAZO develops software and hardware that automates on-site construction logistics through robotics and data analytics. The startup also provides smart robotic elevators for industrial and construction sites, the first application of which is scaffolding assembly.
ParkHere is digitalising parking lots through smart hardware and software.
HappyBrush is a quickly scaling startup offering affordable, aesthetically designed, environmentally friendly and efficient electrical toothbrushes and oral care advice.
TerraLoupe is creating the digital twin of the environment. The Munich startup has built an automated solution to process and analyse large quantities of very precise geo-image data. For example, TerraLoupe’s algorithms can detect and recognise objects in aerial photography.
rfrnz is a legaltech startup that uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to analyse contracts and identify legal risks. The software brings down contract analysis costs for both legal professionals and companies.
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Germany is Europe’s largest software development market and Munich is Germany’s largest local economy. Which inevitably means there is huge demand for software development engineers and B2B services from the region’s private sector, spanning startups, SMEs and corporates. And the demand to supply disbalance for software developers and IT specialists is well publicised.
An article in Handelsblatt outlines the severity of the situation:
“This year alone, Germany was short of 82,000 IT staff who would otherwise have been busy shaping that digital transition across all industries — almost 50 percent more than the previous year. According to the latest study by Bitkom, an industry association, four out of five firms lack personnel with the IT qualifications they need.”
The concentration of companies with high tech needs in and around Munich means this supply-demand problem is particularly pronounced in the region. The overall strength of the city’s economy is, of course, generally a positive for the area and companies operating in the city. But one drawback, combined with the fact that Munich is Germany’s most expensive city, is that software development costs are especially high.
While that may be good news for software engineers themselves, it can be a painful overhead for companies who prefer to hire locally, rather than outsource software development. Due to the expense of developing software locally in Munich, that is also a common approach, with nearshore destinations in nearby Eastern Europe especially popular for logistics, language and cultural reasons.
Munich-based companies who wish to recruit local software engineering talent should steel themselves for a relatively high salary and incentive costs. As the two visuals from Payscale and Glassdoor show, software engineer salaries in Munich are around 10% higher than the German average.
Taking a closer look at specific roles, the trend of software developer and other IT specialist salaries being higher in Munich compared to elsewhere in German continues. The Munich premium is also higher for more specialist roles, such as DevOps engineers.
With the demand to supply gap for software developers expected to widen in Western Europe over the current decade, and local Munich demand especially high, software developer salaries for local hires should be forecast as increasing over coming years.
Despite the relatively high cost of developing software in Munich, the labour market in the city for software engineers is vibrant. StackOverFlow has, as of early September 2020, 176 software engineer jobs listed for the Munich area. Only Berlin has more vacancies listed for software development positions with 225.
After the two German technology centres of Berlin and Munich, there is a relatively big drop off in software developer demand in and around other big German cities:
Frankfurt 72, Hamburg 73, Stuttgart 32, Cologne 43, Dusseldorf 72, Dresden 8, Bremen 3.
The pattern is similar on other major jobs portals. Glassdoor lists 1064 open positions for software developers in Munich, 1365 in Berlin, 621 in Hamburg and 600 in Frankfurt.
Xing hosts 1828 job posts for software developers within a 50 km radius of Munich, ahead of even Berlin with 1405 positions listed. The Frankfurt region comes next with 1230 listings and then Hamburg with 972.
Finally, on LinkedIn, there are 2581 results for software engineer positions listed for the Munich metropolitan area, 1708 for the Berlin metropolitan area, 1270 for the Frankfurt Rhine-Main metropolitan area and 1025 for the greater Hamburg area.
The Munich and Berlin areas are clearly out in front as the cities in Germany with most demand for software developers. But which specific software engineering skills are most in-demand in Munich in 2021?
It should be noted that on other major job portals, demand for React developers is slightly higher than for Angular. As a Munich-based software development company, our direct B2B experience is also that there has recently been more demand for React developers than for those with a background in Angular. There is, however, certainly also strong demand for Angular developers.
Of other software development frameworks, libraries and tools, Munich demand is highest for Node.js, followed by TensorFlow, .Net Core, React Native, Unity3D and Flutter.
MySQL is the most in-demand database technologies competency in the Munich metropolitan area, followed by Elasticsearch, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Redis and some demand for Firebase.
As a software company from Munich, we are clearly biased and definitively not an objective source of reference on who the best Munich-based software development agencies are. And we certainly won’t pretend to be.
But from the point of view of an IT services provider with over 20 decades on the market, we can give some valuable insight into some of the most important filters to use when screening for a software development partner. The most important point to make is there is no objectively ‘best’ Munich agencies. There are good software development agencies, among whom there will be best fits for your company or organisation and project.
To narrow down a shortlist of potential Munich-based software development partners, consider the following factors:
Not every software development agency offers the same tech stack and strengths. Some are web specialists (but can be again filtered on languages and frameworks/libraries they have the most experience and skills in), some cloud-native specialists, other native mobile app specialists. Others will be particularly strong in design and UX but less so in more complex technology solutions and architectures.
Do you need database experts? Is your product being built to scale? Do you need AI expertise?
These are just an example of the questions you need to define around technology stack and specialisation/experience before narrowing down a shortlist of software development agencies that could be a good fit for your organisation or a particular project.
Size often matters when it comes to choosing the correct software development agency for your particular needs. If you’re a startup, the best agency for you probably won’t be a particularly large one. Even if your project is taken on, will it be a priority?
On the other hand, if you want the flexibility to scale the number of software developers working on your project or projects up or down, and the extent of that scaling is not from 2 to 4 developers and back but 20 to 60 and back to 40 within months or years, the best option for you will be a big agency. A small to middle-sized agency won’t be able to offer that.
If you think you may need to scale up and down between 2 and 10 developers, a mid-sized agency is probably going to be the best fit.
These are very general guidelines but the size, structure and existing client portfolio of a software development agency are important considerations when assessing for a good fit.
Budget is another factor that shouldn’t be overlooked and there can be quite a range in the cost of working with different Munich software development agencies. Judging value in relation to your needs will be one of the trickiest calls in choosing the best fit for your organisation and project.
How software development agencies price their services is no different to how any other business offering a product or service does. It is a function of market positioning and any added value in their offer in combination with overheads and supply and demand dynamics.
Purchasing software development services is also no different to purchasing any other product or service. You need to first narrow your field down to agencies within your budget and then focus on due diligence to get the best price-to-quality ratio within your price range.
Define what you can and can’t compromise on. If you absolutely need native German-speaking software developers based in Munich, that will have a big impact on your budget requirements. Can you work with an agency that offers nearshored development resources that will work remotely but under Munich-based management and/or your main point of contact? Or a hybrid approach. That may go a long way to easing the pressure on your budget.
While software developers are in short supply relative to demand, if you have a market-level budget, you should always be able to find an agency with the technical expertise to execute your project.
The feedback we receive from our client base is that what is more difficult is to find an agency that offers a good match in terms of company culture and ethos. And that is what will usually ultimately dictate if the partnership is both a successful and sustainable one.
Make sure your selection process for a software development agency places emphasis on not only getting a ‘feel’, for potential partners on a personal level but digging into the details of their company culture and ethos. That is what will have the most impact on project management and communication standards and norms which have at least as much impact on successful outcomes as tech competencies.
There are plenty of options when it comes to sourcing Munich software development resources that fit your needs. One option is to browse the website of companies listed on directories such as:
You can also browse Google, narrowing your search with filter terms such as the particular tech stack or other qualities you are looking for.
In both cases, keep in mind that the positioning of software development agencies you will find through browsing directories and Google says more about their marketing skills than strengths as a software development partner. But you have to start somewhere and that can be a good place to begin putting together a short list.
Word-of-mouth referrals from trusted contacts can also be invaluable, especially if they have direct experience working with a company. And even if you don’t have a direct referral, it is worth making the effort to try and get in touch with other organisations agencies on your shortlist have worked with for a reference.
Again, keep in mind that you qualify referrals through the other filters we’ve already mentioned that are important to consider when judging fit. The referrer’s project and organisational needs may not match your own, which will influence if a development partner that was a good fit for them will also be for you.
As would be expected of a city and region with such a thriving tech scene, Munich has regular events and meetups with a software development and tech focus. You can find out what’s going on in terms of events you might be interested in attending by checking out:
If you are looking for employment as a software developer in Munich, you might like to check out Tchooz Tech Dating. Tchooz describes its regular event as “casual, interactive and engaging event where you can discover, meet and chats with technical teams (major corporations, scaleups, startups, consulting) currently hiring”.
Techfest Munich did not happen in 2020 and has also been suspended for 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic but is usually a great annual event – a hackathon from software developers and other tech specialists from all over Europe to work together across disciplines for one weekend, solving real-world industry problems.
One major tech event that is going ahead this autumn in Munich is the Bits & Pretzels Networking Week, billed as Europe’s biggest event for founders. Speakers on the roster this year include Arianna Huffington and Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield. The event will run from September 27th to October 2nd. Hopefully that will go some way to making up for the unfortunately missing Munich Oktoberfest this year, which has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation. At least in the eyes of Munich’s techies and visiting tech and startup enthusiasts!
*If you know of or run other useful directories of Munich tech and software development events, meetups or conferences, please get in touch to let us know and we’d be delighted to add them to this list.
We hope you found this resource on the software development sector and scene in Munich helpful and informative. We’d love to keep on improving it so please get in touch if you think there is any interesting information, facts, figures etc. you think we could add to make it even better.
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