Apple, Google, and Tesla chose Germany as location for their latest global technology research centers. The proximity to leading digital ecosystems in Munich and Berlin, where start-ups and corporates work hand-in-hand with research and academia on future industry disruptions, certainly played a role. "The presence of concentrated, digital-savvy talent is a key differentiator between nations, regions, and cities vying for consideration as business-service locations” confirms consulting company Kearney in its latest “Global Services Location Index”.
In a globally connected world, technology giants, industry corporates, and SMEs alike need to keep up with ever-accelerating change. The global competition for highly skilled digital talent and innovative ideas has turned existential for companies. Thus, the attractiveness of countries as investment locations is directly linked to its ability to offer access to local technology ecosytems (“Digital Hubs”).
In 2017, Germany founded the Digital Hub Initiative, aiming to foster collaboration of start-ups, corporates, and research in the development of future technological innovations. Until now, over 350 corporates, 2000 SMEs, 2500 start-ups (600 of which are registered in the start-up finder) as well as 250 further partners (such as research institutes or governmental bodies) joined the hubs until today.
As a countrywide technology innovation ecosystem, the Digital Hub Initiative helps put Germany on top of global innovation indices and establish Germany as location of choice for international companies. Here are four key differentiating factors:
- Technology focus: The Digital Hub Initiative solely focuses on technologies relevant for the long-run development of the German economy. Competencies in technological fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Digital Health, Fintech or IoT will be crucial enablers to keep the German economy globally competitive in the future.
- Collaboration: Most major technological breakthroughs of the past were a result of collaboration between the corporate and the academic world. Pooling resources and knowledge is critical and the digital hubs offer an enabling environment for testing and piloting innovative products and services.
- Application-oriented: The Hubs provide a breeding ground for new ideas and solutions, yet foster the market-readiness and applicability of new products and services. Common frameworks are innovation sprints, mini accelerator programs, or challenges, where corporates directly engage with start-ups on solving actual problems.
- Global network: The Hubs are located across Germany. However, its reach and ambitions are global. The network continuously grows by building partnerships with international digital innovation Hubs, runs international start-up competitions and challenges and offers international start-ups a structured onboarding into its ecosystems through accelerator programs, coworking spaces and access to finance and venture capital.
The Digital Hub Initiative has significantly transformed the German digital innovation ecosystem. It creates global visibility and promotes the best of Germany’s offer as an attractive location for innovative technology companies and industrial corporates.