Innovation Campus homePORT Hamburg sparking maritime ideas

Real lab for stakeholders in port industries emerging in Port of Hamburg
15 March 2021
Innovative Hafenlogistik

Zero emissions, 3D printing, drones, and automation thanks to robots as well as work on future solutions for the maritime industry and logistics are taking centre stage at homePORT Hamburg this year. Stakeholders in science, and technology as well as start-ups can try out their ideas and perform experiments in the Port of Hamburg's real laboratory. The actual innovation campus and makerspace will follow in mid-2021.

Tests in real conditions

The homePORT, initiated under the auspices of Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), is tasked with setting up a digital and physical community and networking platform. "Emphasis is on establishing a freely accessible maritime high-tech workshop, the so-called makerspace, from early June," said Marius Eschen, Product Lead New Business and Partnership at HPA. Plans are also being laid to build a container campus at the southern exit of the St. Pauli Elbtunnel and to create a makerspace or FabLab there. This state-of-the art workshop is equipped with 3D printers and laser cutters to give individuals and businesses controlled access to cutting-edge manufacturing. Rooms for workshops and seminars  are also being planned. HPA is making its infrastructure available as an "Urban Tech Playground" for hands-on experiments to develop new products on water, land and air.

One-stop shop for innovations

"Pre-qualification occurs on a sensible, individual basis and moves the port forward," said Eschen. The homePORT team is processing any permits required by the researchers and start-ups for their projects with the responsible licensing and supervisory authorities. Water test areas have been designated in a special part of the harbour. Products and applications for autonomous tests can be tested under and above water in secure, real conditions. A private parking space is available for testing autonomous robots, vehicles and drones. Hamburg Invest is among the project's co-operating partners. "Port cities all over the world are catalysts of innovation par excellence," said Dr. Rolf Strittmatter, Managing Director of Hamburg Invest. "For over 1,000 years, goods and ideas arriving in the Port of Hamburg have become innovations. This will continue in the future thanks to homePORT."  

Makerspace - control centre and meeting place

The container campus and makerspace will be the nucleus and organisational control centre of the project. Researchers, start-ups and stakeholders can meet there and work on prototypes and innovations. The space will also be available to HPA's own research projects, e.g., floating drones as part of the EU-funded Robotic Vessels as a Service (RoboVaas) project on developing robot-assisted services on demand for the maritime industry. Small, unmanned surface and underwater vehicles support coastal maritime operations. Another research project is SeaClear (SEarch, identificAtion and Collection of marine LittEr with Autonomous Robots) and aims to develop unmanned autonomously operable underwater vehicles for waste collection.

Boosting collaboration - forging sustainable network

"We then want to network stakeholders in the port and the maritime industry even more closely," said Eschen. The recently launched community already has 50 internal and external members. The public can view the homePORT, when it becomes an official trade fair and demonstration area at the ITS World Congress, and will host drone projects. 

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