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Silicon Valley - a role model for the Digital Hub Initiative

The fundamental idea of the Digital Hub Initiative is to ensure that cooperation among start-ups, established companies and science works well in the digital age, particularly in a small area, and that new innovations are developed. Currently, the best-known example of a digital hub is Silicon Valley in the United States. This is where highly skilled professionals from all over the world meet, continuously develop new ideas and products, engage in dialogue with one another and exchange their knowledge and ideas. In addition, the local research and educational facilities contribute to new start-ups in the region. All of this has nurtured a culture based on a keenness to experiment, exchange of information and willingness to take risks.

In Germany, this knowledge and expertise is not amalgamated in one central place. However, this does not mean that the knowledge and expertise does not exist: dynamic start-ups, international market leaders operating in established industries and renowned scientific institutions are scattered all over the country. In order to take account of Germany’s wide range of different strengths, several hubs are needed.

Digital Hub Initiative in Germany

Over the last few years, some dynamic digital hubs have sprung up and more are emerging. Start-ups and young entrepreneurs are networking here – working together and strengthening each other. Besides, Germany boasts many strong companies, especially industrial enterprises and SMEs, which, owing to their specialised know-how, can be an interesting point of contact for potential start-ups. Start-ups can learn from the experience and networks of the big companies which helps them to better position themselves. What we want is to bring them closer together – the start-up hubs and the established companies. The latter can also profit from this cooperation and make digital innovation leaps. The German lead industries such as mechanical engineering, the automotive or the logistics industry, in particular, will thus be able to successfully shape the digital transformation.

And this is exactly what the initiative sets out to do: We want to highlight Germany’s strengths as a leading industrial nation with our existing, top-quality know-how. In this way, we make Germany an alternative for entrepreneurs, investors and specialists from all over the world.
The aim of the Digital Hub Initiative is to establish existing and new hub locations in various regions of Germany. For this purpose, we will set up a separate hub agency which will take care of nationwide networking among the individual hub locations using a common logo. Further to this, the agency will gather and centrally provide information from the hubs, organise events and deliver advice. Building a powerful advertising campaign and a consistent external image abroad will help attract potential entrepreneurs, investors and experts. To support the initiative, an independent expert advisory board with members from the digital and technology sector will be set up. The advisory board makes recommendations on the selection of hub locations, and it monitors and evaluates the activities and development of individual hubs.

Objectives of the Digital Hub Initiative

The Digital Hub Initiative aims to establish ten to twelve digital hubs across Germany. Whilst some hubs are already there and can be developed, others will need to be set up from scratch. In order to support these efforts, a joint brand (de:hub) and the joint Hub Agency run by RCKT have been created. Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt/Darmstadt, Berlin, Dortmund, Dresden/Leipzig, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Mannheim/Ludwigshafen, Potsdam and Nuremberg/Erlangen are part of the Digital Hub Initiative. Although each city focuses on a particular industry, the idea is that clusters will emerge where other industries can bring in their expertise as well.

The Hub Agency serves to connect the individual hub locations using a common logo. Further to this, the agency gathers information from the hubs and published it in a central location, organises events and provides advice. In order to raise the profile of Germany’s digital hubs among start-ups, investors and professionals from abroad, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) are jointly developing creative international advertising activities. To support the initiative, an independent expert advisory board with members from the digital and technology sector will be set up. The advisory board makes recommendations on the selection of hub locations, and it monitors and evaluates the activities and development of the individual hubs.

In order to be selected as digital hubs, the locations had to meet a number of criteria. For example, they needed to prove that the hub is close to companies that are global market or innovation leaders or to industry-specific research and educational facilities. Other important criteria include having a start-up community or a network of persons that can serve as mentors or advisers.