Factory Hammerbrooklyn opens new seat of future innovation
Hamburg’s latest “factory” opened Thursday (May 6, 2021) in a magnificent building on a 7,000 square metre site between the Deichtorhallen and the Großmarkt Hamburg. Factory Hammerbrooklyn brings together urban society, companies, talented people, freelancers and start-ups to experiment, learn and create innovations. Hammerbrooklyn, one of Germany's largest private-sector, forward-looking projects meets what it claims is the world's most successful innovation ecosystem and may yet prove a perfect match. Hamburg News spoke to Nico Gramenz, CEO.
Hamburg News: How did you find this exciting place for your business model?
Nico Gramenz: We were looking for another location for our business model, which is proving very successful in Berlin. We found exactly the open and energetic mindset we were looking for here in Hamburg. During discussions with stakeholders from business and politics, we realised that we share the same vision.
Hamburg News: Workspaces, labs, meeting rooms can be found here. You are a company builder, think tank, curated innovation hub and a network in particular. Artists, musicians, politics, business, companies, start-ups and investors come together here. Can you outline your business model in a few sentences?
Nico Gramenz: Give every creator an empowering network. We give every doer a relevant network and bring along a large international community. Factory Berlin has 4,000 members from 70 nations and is a nucleus for start-ups. Investors have injected EUR 1 billion in the start-ups since 2015. We want to empower and inspire the community, and we want to build bridges between the various clusters and initiatives in Hamburg, between Berlin and Hamburg, but also worldwide.
Hamburg News: The perfect match! What role does the actual location i.e., Berlin and Hamburg,s play?
Nico Gramenz: Our main focus is on networking, but the actual place is also very important, as the coronavirus has shown. We can network virtually, but we also have a great desire to meet face to face and to feel comfortable and inspired at the same time. We want to come together with like-minded people, but also with different thinkers to gain new insights, ideas and perspectives.
Hamburg News: You say Hamburg appeals to you. Apart from its thriving economy, there is also an enormous push towards the future and a wish to innovate. How do you notice that?
Nico Gramenz: The atmosphere of departure is palpable. All doors to the network in Hamburg were opened to us immediately. We have never experienced such openness and political support, as well as short decision-making processes. The willingness to share both networks and knowledge are prerequisites for what we want to create here - a third space between home, office and leisure. We are currently experiencing the fusion of both home and office. We are now adding leisure and social interaction to the mix and designing the “Third Space” as an inspiring, creative meeting place.
Hamburg News: Exactly how should one imagine matchmaking? Do people apply for membership and are selected based on suitability and what they bring along?
Nico Gramenz: Yes, you basically apply. Our prerequire is that you are willing to share your knowledge and your "problems" as only then can the network help. This is especially important when industrial companies apply. You still need individual energy to input as part of the community. To us, it is important to see how the network benefits the members and vice versa. This logic has helped us create a dynamic that promotes innovation, which can be seen in measurable results such as start-ups, investments or individual members’ success stories.
Hamburg News: What comes after the successful, largely virtual opening?
Nico Gramenz: We want to expand our network here and derive measurable goals from the city's innovation strategy to see exactly where we can have an impact with networking. In terms of content, we believe in innovation by changing perspectives and promoting interdisciplinarity in our community. Our present hotspots are mobility, digital health and smart city as well as linking up the digital and creative scenes. We will hopefully be offering several events and schemes again soon. We look forward to a live, opening party on-site.
Interview by Karolin Köcher