A short history of de:hubs
Above all, the hubs aim to put startups and their digital innovations in contact with market leaders and accelerate collaboration on priority topics. This type of cooperation has been successful in the past: according to a recent study by the research organization RKW, 95 per cent of all SMEs would work with a startup again in the future.
The initiative was the brainchild of BITKOM, the German IT industry association, which selected the hubs along with an independent committee of experts from across a range of digital and tech industries. Criteria such as the presence of established world-leading companies and research facilities, an embedded startup community and an overarching vision for the hubs to be international “beacons” played a large role in the selection process.
As an example, Potsdam was already known worldwide as a location for the media and film industry. But its new MediaTech Hub is now striving to attract international attention beyond these fields to “create a local space for innovation in digital transformation beyond entertainment,” according to its chairwoman Andrea Peters. She goes on: “Through the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy’s new Digital Hub Initiative we are offering an inspiring and powerful combination of digital technologies, video and mobile capabilities, animation, visual effects, games, interactive media, VR/AR and big data. Potsdam has not forgotten its success over the last ‘100 Babelsberg years,’ [a reference to its famous film studios] but is rather embracing the future and offering an interesting prospect for startups and investors from all over the world.”
Digital Health Hub
However, Germany’s regional cluster model is still relatively unknown outside the country. As the Startup Monitor 2017 discovered, more than a quarter of the startups surveyed did not know about clusters, or if they did, were unsure what industries they represented. In Nuremberg-Erlangen, the immediate challenge of the Digital Health Hub (built on a strong, existing healthcare cluster) is simply to let the rest of the world know it exists. “The Digital Hub Initiative is a great opportunity to increase our international visibility and reputation in the field of digital health in general. Germany has many innovative startups and strong SMEs, but we often tend to be too modest about our ideas,” says Johanna Mathes, project manager for the hub. “The Hub Initiative helps us to make the ‘Digital Health Made in Germany’ brand known all over the world.”
With its global network and expertise in attracting investors, GTAI is making the Digital Hub Initiative visible abroad and recruiting a complementary mix of startups and investors. The ultimate goal is to make “de:hubs” an international brand that is distinct from the Valley in that it offers access to a range of ecosystems unique and specific to Germany.