Making the Right Connections
Germany’s Digital Hub Initiative offers international companies significant advantages when it comes to building partnerships and driving innovation. Two examples from software and customer support services illustrate how the system works.
When BlinkIn, a German-Indian remote customer support platform, set up shop in Munich in 2018, it didn’t have to start from scratch to establish partnerships and a customer base. The Bavarian capital is also Germany’s insurance technology hotspot, and the Digital Hub InsurTech in Munich – one of 12 digital innovation ecosystem networks – introduced the start-up to some heavyweight partners. Founded by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) five years ago, the initiative combines more than 2,500 start-ups, 2,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and corporate companies and academic partners.
BlinkIn is now working with the ADAC, Germany’s biggest auto club, to implement roadside assistance video support apps, illustrating, for instance, how to perform an oil change or diagnose a check engine light. One German insurer is also using BlinkIn technology for remote damage assessments, offering support technicians from a German pump maker.
“Admission to the InsurTech Hub in WORK 1 in particular, with participation in the world’s largest insurance conference in Las Vegas, was a crucial milestone for our development,” BlinkIn cofounder Josef Süß says on the website of Invest in Bavaria, the regional economic promotion agency.
A dozen helping hands
The 12 Hubs are spread geographically throughout Germany. The idea is to accelerate Germany’s digital future by connecting start-up enthusiasm with institutional expertise and SME experience. Becoming part of a Hub gives entrepreneurs a fast track to major players in their fields.
Drone software maker FlyNex can attest to that. The company relocated from Hamburg to Dresden in 2017 after participating in the Smart Infrastructure Hub Leipzig. That led to FlyNex being linked with the regional utilities provider enviaM, which uses the start-up’s software to inspect the lines and towers of its power network.
“What really helps us is the close connection and simple access to other start-ups as well as mid-sized businesses and companies,” FlyNex CFO Michael Petrosjan told the business newspaper Wirtschaftswoche. That is exactly what makes the Digital Hubs so powerful and important to the German economy.
Dr. Kim J. Zietlow
GTAI director trend & innovation scouting
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