Existing data sets on firm formations in Germany suffer from various shortcomings that prohibit sound analyses of new firms’ development over time. Therefore, the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), KfW Bankengruppe and Creditreform are cooperating to form a start-up panel for Germany. In each wave of the KfW/ZEW Start-up Panel computer-aided telephone interviews (CATI) are conducted with about 6,000 newly founded firms. The average length of an interview amounts to 25 minutes. The random sample of the KfW/ZEW Start-up Panel is drawn from the database of Creditreform, the largest credit rating agency in Germany. Three stratification criteria are applied in order to construct the sample of the start-up panel: year of firm formation, sector, and whether or not the firm has been promoted by KfW Bankengruppe. In each year, a random sample of firms which have been founded within three years prior to the year of the survey is drawn. The start-up panel covers almost all industry sectors. Half of the firms included in the sample operate in a hightechnology industry. Since the KfW/ZEW Start-up Panel intends to track the development of newly founded firms over time, firms that already participated in the survey will be contacted during the subsequent years as long as they are eight years of age or younger. In order to fully exploit the potential of the longitudinal nature of the KfW/ZEW Start-up Panel, two different questionnaires are applied in each year’s survey. Firms contacted for the first time are asked a broad range of structural information using a baseline questionnaire. A follow-up questionnaire is targeted to firms which have already participated in previous waves of the panel; it has a particular focus on changes within the participating firms over time. Research issues that will be analysed based on the panel include human capital of firm founders, strategies for market entry, innovation and R&D activities, labour demand, and investment and financing strategies of young firms. Another asset of the panel originates from the fact that staff members of Creditreform will directly investigate all firms which cannot be re-contacted in the course of the telephone survey. This way we will be able to reliably identify the survival status of all firms that ever participated in the panel, and to distinguish between firm mortality and other reasons preventing a repeated contact with a firm (e.g., change of firm name, change of telephone number). The utilisation of the firm records is restricted for scientific purposes only. The rules of data protection guarantee that survey data will not be used for credit negotiations or credit ratings of the participating firms. Anonymised scientific-use-files of the yearly surveyed cross-sections of the KfW/ZEW Start-up Panel will be provided to external scientists with a respective delay of three years.

Fryges, Helmut, Sandra Gottschalk and Kohn Karsten (2009), The KfW/ZEW Start-up Panel: Design and Research Potential, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 09-053, Mannheim, published in: Schmollers Jahrbuch/Journal of Applied Social Sciences, European Data Watch. Download


Fryges, Helmut
Gottschalk, Sandra
Karsten, Kohn


firm foundation, micro data, firm data, panel data, Germany.