Companies in Hamburg lend helping hand in crisis

Aid includes donated products, grants and bright ideas
05 May 2020

Many retailers across Hamburg reopened their doors Monday (May 4, 2020) after weeks of lockdown. Although the mandatory wearing of face masks in shops and on public transport may appear to be a step backwards at first, the masks offer people protection and may prevent a resurgence of infections. People are relieved to be able to go to the hairdresser's salon or barber's shop again to trim their tresses while simply browsing in bookshops is a treat for others.

Well-intended masks 

Faced with this new obligation, people in Hamburg are showing creativity, fashion awareness and solidarity. Proceeds from the sale of many a mask go to charitable causes. Students in the Faculty of Design at HAW Hamburg are donating the proceeds to a charity for the homeless while sales of Viva con Agua’s masks go towards WASH-Projects (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene) to ensure safe access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation.

Block Gruppe spendet 800 FFP3-Masken

Block group donating 800 FFP3 masks

Demand for masks remains high in hospitals and healthcare facilities. "We know from the hospitals in our city that supplies are very tight sometimes," said Stephan von Bülow, CEO of the Block Group. The company donated 800 respiratory masks with filters (FFP3 masks) to the Evangelical Amalie Sieveking Hospital in Volksdorf in mid-April. The masks had been intended for use in food production and comply with protection standards for medical personnel. The AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company based in Wedel, Schleswig-Holstein, is donating nine million face masks to healthcare professionals worldwide. Around 300,000 have already been distributed across Germany.

Fielmann producing protective glasses  

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German federal government agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention, recommends the wearing of protective goggles, especially for doctors and medical staff. Given the huge demand, the Fielmann optical store chain is now producing the urgently-needed eyewear.  "In view of the coronavirus pandemic, part of our supply chain is now dedicated to protective goggles instead of plastic spectacles," said Marc Fielmann, CEO of Fielmann AG, who has only been at the helm since 2019. The company has already donated 20,000 pairs of protective goggles to hospitals and medical facilities. "Fielmann would like to thank all doctors, nurses and their colleagues for their outstanding work in these difficult times and hopes this donation will help them with their vital work," he added. 


The Intersport company has donated running shoes to select hospitals across Hamburg under the theme of #KeepTheWorldRunning. Supermarkets, delivery services, post offices and other companies will follow soon. "Nurses run between nine and 13 kilometres per shift. Parcel carriers walks several hundred steps per day. And supermarket employees* walk up and down the aisles all day tirelessly filling shelves. We would like to thank all these people for their commitment by giving them the right shoes," a press release said.

Frozen food making life easier

Meanwhile, the Eismann frozen food company is focusing on the physical well-being of doctors and nurses. The delivery service based in Mettmann, North Rhine-Westphalia, supplies food for around 180,000 employees and has distributed vouchers worth over EUR 5 million throughout Germany. This benefits around 30 hospitals in Hamburg alone including the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE), the Asklepios Clinics and the Altona Children's Hospital. "The hospital staff in Hamburg are doing a great job. Our employees hit on the idea of supporting all those at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus, which is endangering everyone," said Elmar Westermeyer, Managing Director of Eismann.

Unilever going to global effort 

Unilever is putting EUR 100 million towards global and local efforts to combat the pandemic. Apart from donating soap and disinfectants to the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform in partnership with the World Health Organization, food banks in Germany are receiving body care products, food and household detergents. Peter Dekkers, Executive Vice President of Unilever in the German-speaking countries, said: "The coronavirus is spreading rapidly. Apart from the danger to life and limb, hundreds of thousands of livelihoods are at risk."

Start-ups offering bright ideas

Start-ups are also lending a helping hand. The Hamburg-based Beagle Systems, for instance, is developing an autonomous, vertically-launching, long-range drone for inspecting or transporting smaller loads. The drones are manufactured using 3D printing technology, and the start-up has purchased 14 printers so far. "Free capacities are always available, so we thought we could use them differently," said Oliver Gregor Zoeller, who founded Beagle Systems with Jerry Tang and Mitja Wittersheim last May. The team experimented with the production of masks, attachments for door handles and face shields, which have met with great enthusiasm. Two medical practices are already using the face shields. "If there was a demand, we could print 100 to 200 of them a day," said Zoeller. 

Tool sharing

Other helpful ideas like tool sharing are proving timely in the corona era. Many people in Hamburg, who are working from home or are on short-time work, are tackling long-delayed DIY projects in their homes and gardens. Thanks to Kurts Toolbox, tools can be rented for 24 hours after clicking on an app. A first lending station can be found in the Rindermarkthalle in St. Pauli while a second is being planned for Wandsbek.



Beagle Systems 3D printed face shields
© Beagle Systems
Face shields