Digital Hub Logistics - nerve centre of innovations in Hamburg

Established companies meet start-ups - interview with Johannes Berg, Managing Director of the Innovationshub, on the logistics of the future
28 September 2021
Speicherstadt

The Digital Hub Logistics Hamburg brings together companies, investors, start-ups, research and education in the heart of the historic Speicherstadt. An international network of movers and shakers in the logistics sector is treading down new paths to come up with digital solutions for the logistics of tomorrow. In an interview with Hamburg News, Johannes Berg, Managing Director of the Digital Hub Logistics Hamburg, highlights the hub’s commonalities with a gym, the challenges facing the logistics sector and gives insight into plans for the future.

Hamburg News:  You are the Managing Director of the Digital Hub Logistics in Hamburg. What is the hub's task?

Johannes Berg: The Digital Hub Logistics links up start-ups, companies, investors and research institutions to jointly develop digital innovations for the logistics industry of the future. Put more precisely, we test, validate and scale new processes, products and business models along the entire logistics value chain with our partners in research and commerce. The hub is like a gym for digital innovations in logistics.

Hamburg News: And what exactly does this gym look like?

Berg: The Digital Hub Logistics is first and foremost our physical office in the Speicherstadt. We offer our partners a workplace where they can talk to each other far removed from their office or remote workspace and develop new business ideas. That sounds relatively simple, but it is very important for the genesis of innovation processes. Apart from the physical location, we host various events and workshops to network the colourful bunch of people and ideas in our surroundings.

Hamburg News:  Given that the hub is mainly a meeting place, how did you navigate the pandemic?

Berg:  Well, similar to most other companies. The hub is slowly filling up again with teams like Zoom, Webex etc. We are delighted to be able to hold physical events again. Despite all the advantages of digital communication, having a coke or a beer with someone is simply better than a digital mood board.

Johannes Berg, Digital Hub Logistics
© Digital Hub Logistics
J. Berg

Hamburg News: Can you name start-ups and companies that have been involved in the hub so far?

Berg: Corporate partners from the very start include Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG, Ingenics, Dakosy and Lufthansa Industry Solutions GmbH. In recent years, they have been joined by the Nagel Group, Gebrüder Heinemann, Krone, Tchibo, Auerbach Schifffahrt, NSB Schifffahrt, Helm AG, Elokon and Volkswagen Konzernlogistik. Maritime start-ups like Navisense, Searoutes, Closelink, Nautiluslog or Boxxport are likely to send pulses in Hamburg racing. But start-ups like Kiezbringer, Angel or Priojet are home-grown in Hamburg. Our network also includes start-ups that are not permanently based in Hamburg, for instance, Munich’s Everstox, the Logistics Cloud in Bavaria or Luxembourg’s Waves.

Hamburg News: What are your greatest successes so far?

Berg: Quantifying success in an innovation ecosystem is always difficult. However, more than 30 pilot projects have been launched between companies and start-ups and that speaks for itself. Personally speaking, the success of the Digital Hub lies in the fact that very different people come here and manage to implement their wild expansion plans more or less quickly. They enjoy their combined achievements and support each other in the event of setbacks.

Hamburg News: What are the biggest challenges in logistics at present?

Berg: Clearly, climate protection and sustainability. The logistics sector can use technological innovations especially digital solutions to prepare the backbone of a wide range of industries for the future. The internationality of the industry is also an important lever. Our hub reflects that as it brings together start-ups from Estonia, Luxembourg, France, Poland, Singapore, Sweden and the Netherlands, among others.

Hamburg News: The logistics industry is international. Why is the hub based in Hamburg?

Berg:  Hamburg is known as a gateway to the world. That applies to our goal of bringing digital innovations to the world. Digital ship logs, for instance, are used worldwide or software and digital platforms that improve the management of tugs in ports all over the world.

Hamburg News:  Lastly, let’s look towards the future. What are the hub’s next goals?

Berg: We want to expand the hub in 2022 and turn it into the main point of contact for innovations in logistics in central Hamburg. To do so, we will expand the area of the hub to over 3,000 square metres.

Hamburg News: Thank you for the interview Mr. Berg.

fa/sb/pb

ITS World Congress 2021 in Hamburg

The ITS World Congress is being held in Hamburg under the theme of "Experience Future Mobility Now" from October 11 to 15, 2021. The Hanseatic city is gearing up to present the latest trends in digitalisation, mobility and logistics with its and international partners. Doors in the exhibition halls will open for a free public day on October 14 and at select public spaces with staged events, technical demonstration tours and live demonstrations. Those interested in Public Day can register on https://itsworldcongress.com/publicday/

The Hanseatic city has prepared six fields of action including data and information, intelligent traffic control, guidance and intelligent infrastructure, intelligent parking, mobility as a service, as well as automated and connected driving for the congress. The city has earmarked 42 out of 172 ITS projects as anchors that are particularly important for achieving its objectives. These so-called anchor projects include the Hamburg Electric Autonomous Transportation (HEAT) autonomous shuttle bus and the cycle traffic counting network with thermal imaging cameras.