Start-ups join forces in Digital Hub Logistics for climate protection

11 October 2022
SERIES on Idea Accelerators (4): Storage facility to be added in November amid rising demand

Clean Ocean Coatings has set its sights on revolutionising commercial shipping with a new type of hull paint while Boomerang is setting up a reusable system for online retail. Another start-up, Packnship, is organising e-commerce and inner-city logistics in a greener, fairer and social way. The three are among several start-ups honing their business models in the Digital Hub Logistics in Hamburg's Speicherstadt to benefit the climate and other goals. "We offer strong surroundings in which start-ups and established logistics companies come together to tackle the present challenges and those of the future," said Johannes Berg, Managing Director of Digital Hub Logistics.

Digital Hub Logistics attracting firms beyond region

Launched in 2017 by the Logistics Initiative and the Ministry of Economics in Hamburg, 85 start-ups now use the co-working space and the network of 24 partner companies and innovators including HHLA Next, Peter Döhle, Gebr. Heinemann, Lufthansa Industry Solutions, Tchibo and VTG. Logistics companies such as the Nagel Group, Krone, Axxum and Zufall Logistik are also involved in the hub. And companies from all over Germany rent space there as well. Most start-ups hail from Hamburg and other parts of Germany and abroad. "Two start-ups from the Netherlands and Singapore have just joined us," said Berg. Plans are now being laid to expand Digital Hub Logistics from the current 1,200 to 3,200 square metres in November to meet rising demand. "We are getting an entire warehouse and can thus meet the increasing number of requests. We owe this, among others, to the Scaleup Landing Pad Hamburg, which was launched in August and targets high-growth, international start-ups," he pointed out.

Matching activities

Start-ups pay between EUR 50 to 250 per month in rent while established companies pay EUR 12,000 to 50,000 par annum. The hub offers its tenants a wealth of matching activities as well as infrastructure. Corporate Collab Days are held once every three months, said Berg, adding: "Even before coronavirus, it was clear that the major challenges of our time and industry cannot be solved alone. The Corporate Collab Days allow for advanced talks on topics such as robotics, alternative drives or innovation management and solutions are outlined." Depending on the status of the project, a match with suitable start-ups then follows. To this end, Berg and his team have developed a kind of networking game called the "Match Machine". "This is a thread of conversation through which start-ups and companies find out out within an hour whether they match in terms of content and interpersonal skills," he noted.

Johannes Berg, Managing Director of Digital Hub Logistics

Demand for climate-friendly solutions 

"We are looking for promising solutions that make logistics processes and products more digital, more efficient and ultimately climate-friendlier," said Berg. Packnship is a prime example. Founded by Alena Werner, the start-up offers brick-and-mortar retailers in inner cities an environment-friendly means of running their e-commerce businesses. Packnship's packaging labs are no more than 15 minutes away from the respective shops and it uses electric vehicles and sustainable packaging materials.


Saving resources and cutting costs

Clean Ocean Coating, a start-up founded by Dr Christina Linke and Patricia Griem, has developed an environment-friendly, ultra-smooth surface coating that prevents the growth of algae and pox on ships' hulls. The ships glide even faster through the water thanks to the coating. The lower fuel consumption can save up to EUR 600,000 per ship per annum. Another start-up, Boomerang, offers reusable shipping bags that can be reused up to 50 times, thereby cutting costs for customers. The founders Katharina Kreutzer, Marc Engelmann and Christian Putz want to reduce daily packaging waste in online retail, slash CO2 emissions and keep the use of valuable resources to a minimum. Their business model helps protect the climate and goes perfectly with the Digital Hub Logistics goals of advancing the digital transformation on land, sea and air by pooling expertise in digitalisation and logistics.


Other parts in our series on "Idea Accelerators": 

1) Start-ups now shaping media in Hamburg thanks to Media Lift

2) ZAL Innovation Accelerator boosting good ideas

3) Foodlab accelerator coming up with recipes for success

Sources and further information

Digital Hub Initiative

The Digital Hub Logistics is part of the Digital Hub Initiative launched by the German Ministry for Economics Affairs and Climate Protection, focusing on industrial points in twelve digital hubs in 16 cities. Such hubs bring together diverse stakeholders in commerce, investors, start-ups, research and education to exchange ideas and work on projects. Emphasis is on networking SMEs with new innovation partners in science and the start-up scene.


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