A Digital Hub is a workspace for several complementary activities, including commercial enterprises, the public sector, and community organizations. It offers high-speed and particular technical facilities, services and meeting rooms, event and training venues that focus on bringing people together.
Freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses can work for a monthly fee from this flexible, shared workspace together with established high-growth companies located in longer-term office spaces.
Silicon Valley has become an internationally recognized brand in the San Francisco Bay area, the global tech capital with a concentration of IT expertise across different sectors, attracting the most innovative minds, the busiest networkers, and significant investments.
However, the situation is a little bit different in Germany. Several large urban regions are focusing on various industries here, some of which are linked to the region’s specialties, such as the auto industry in southern Germany, the financial sector around Frankfurt, or logistics in the harbor city, Hamburg.
What is de:hub?
The Digital Hub Initiative, de:hub for short, is an initiative launched by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany. This initiative’s primary goal is to create a nationwide network for digital innovation by connecting startups and small&medium enterprises (SMEs) with corporates and investors. There are 12 different digital hubs, and each one focuses on a different industry.
Frankfurt am Main is an international financial center with a high concentration of outstanding universities. The FinTech Digital Hub Frankfurt builds on these strengths that are locally established. It brings together economic and entrepreneurial players who work together on new security products and financial market infrastructure. Innovative entrepreneurial ideas are being developed into market-ready products in the environment of scientific institutions and partnerships with companies.
The Metropolitan Region of Munich, with over 140,000 employees, demonstrates the highest level of specialization in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Cologne are the next biggest hubs. The ICT jobs gap is relatively large between these hubs: Munich is 49% higher than Frankfurt by 140,824 jobs. STEM jobs vary according to their complexity at a deeper level. The higher the complexity, the higher the likely innovation potential. Here, Munich and Erlangen took a powerful lead. Sixty-three percent of Munich’s local STEM jobs show the highest degree of complexity, and 60 percent are in Erlangen. Stuttgart and Frankfurt are 54 percent ahead of Dresden. However, Frankfurt is still the fourth city to appeal to STEM students, and students from Darmstadt and Bonn prefer to move to Frankfurt after graduation.
Darmstadt has a high concentration of universities as well as a healthy digital ecosystem. In a national competition held by Bitkom, Darmstadt was awarded the “Digital City” title in 2017. The Digital Cyber Security Hub Darmstadt builds on these locally-based strengths. It brings together players from established companies, the research sector, and the entrepreneurial sector to develop innovative security products and infrastructures before launching on the market.
Darmstadt has established itself as a tech hub. Due to its outstanding position in the talent pipeline, it ranks second in Germany. And it is the third city with the most significant number of STEM students, with 36000. Almost three-quarters of the students in the city have been registered in STEM subjects. Moreover, several smaller technology hubs like Erlangen, Darmstadt, and Karlsruhe represent suitable locations for their regional schools or the local technology industry. This focus on just a few areas is economically vital for the future. Likely, the digital industry’s added value and digital jobs will continue to rise from today’s high levels.
FinTech and Cybersecurity In Digital Hubs of Germany
With FinTech and Cyber Security, the two locations represent two essential digitization areas that offer great potential for innovations, new business models, and startups. The Federal Government’s Digital Hub initiative aims to promote the exchange between founders, established companies, and scientists, thereby promoting digital innovations. The established economy benefits from the startups’ ideas through mutual exchange, while the young founders benefit from experienced entrepreneurs’ experience and contacts. A central hub agency networks the individual hubs, advises startups and industry, and organizes events. Besides, an advertising campaign is planned to present Germany’s locations and strengths in the startup scene internationally.
Darmstadt is already a leading location for cybersecurity in Germany, connecting well-known companies and research institutions with a technology-oriented startup scene. Here, experts develop cybersecurity solutions for the financial world and production, business, critical infrastructures, and healthcare. They can fall back on a wide range of networking, advanced training, and support in developing practical business models.
The federal government and the state of Hesse have been supporting cybersecurity research in Darmstadt for many years. In the Center for Research in Security and Privacy (CRISP), the most comprehensive research center for cybersecurity in Europe, and the participating research institutions Fraunhofer SIT, Fraunhofer IGD, TU Darmstadt, and Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences, more than 450 scientists work for secure digitization. The Competence Center for Applied Security Technology (CAST e.V.), with 251 members, is the largest corporate network for cybersecurity in the German-speaking area.
The universities and research institutes also actively promote spin-offs, for example, in the HIGHEST startup and innovation center at TU Darmstadt. Besides, a new startup center is being built in the city, which will provide a flexible working environment for startups.
In Frankfurt, the TechQuartier (TQ) offers FinTechs space to develop new technologies and tomorrow’s business models. With its numerous events, services, and programs for talent, startups, and companies and a broad network of currently 60 startups, 30 partner companies, and universities, it is the central platform for startups and companies in the growth phase. Both locations of the digital hub Frankfurt/Darmstadt will work closely together in the future.
The Digital Hub Initiative of Germany is launched to create a nationwide digital network between startups, SMEs, corporates, and investors. In terms of cybersecurity and fintech, hubs in Frankfurt and Darmstadt take the lead. Also, these cities have shown distinguishable growth since the adoption of the initiative. The hubs created an environment where universities with STEM subjects are more appealing than ever, and they caused a substantial rise in employment. It would not be wrong to expect this initiative model to spread from within Germany to the whole world in the future.