Germany’s de:hubs are digital innovation ecosystems

14 Mar 2018 | Source: Health - Made in Germany

Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) has established a system of twelve regional, digital hubs to concentrate knowledge, expertise, and industry. A BMWi program called the Digital Hub Initiative led to the development of this decentralized system of hubs, which is unique to Germany.

The regional hubs are each dedicated to a specific field such as health, logistics, artificial intelligence, finishing technologies, or cybersecurity, to name some. The decision to make them regional was based in part on a strategy of building on existing, local industrial strengths. Beyond that, the hubs combine sustainable networks, research facilities, established economies and innovative startups for their respective industries. According to the BMWi, each hub is a network and physical location that creates synergies to advance innovative digitization.

Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Brigitte Zypries, explained, “We want to strengthen our network and we are positive that this mixture can be very attractive for international business founders and investors. And that is one of the main goals: to convince them to establish their companies and make their investments in Germany.”

Two of the hubs are dedicated to health. One is in Nuremberg-Erlangen, which is home to Medical Valley EMN, a globally-leading cluster for medical technology. At the hub, around 500 companies - many of them SMEs, 80 university departments and research groups, more than 20 non-university research institutes, and over 65 hospitals are cooperating to develop next-generation healthcare products and services and to bring them to market with unprecedented speed.

Ludwigshafen-Mannheim is where the digital chemistry/digital health hub is based. It is located in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region, which is the base for a large number of leading international chemical companies, healthcare providers and IT firms. Many SMEs and innovative start-ups are also based there. The Ludwigshafen-Mannheim digital chemistry/digital health hub is concentrating on innovation as well as new start-ups in these fields.

The inward investment agency of the Federal Republic of Germany, Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI), has set up a new, special division to aid business partners and investors from abroad to find just the right hub to meet their needs. Josefina Nungesser directs GTAI's Trend & Innovation Scouting Division. In an interview with GTAI's Markets Germany magazine, Nungesser explains the role of the division, which the BMWi has made responsible for the internationalization strategy of the Digital Hub initiative.