Hamburg News: Mrs Reichboth, you have been in charge of Hamburg Invest’s Startup Unit and that of the City of Hamburg for a year now. Your mandate is to support the local start-up ecosystem. The expectations on your task are high as start-ups are regarded as THE drivers of innovation, par excellence. What have you been able to achieve so far and what will happen in 2019?
Veronika Reichboth: The focus in 2018 was mainly on establishing and expanding the unit and its activities as well as establishing networks and services such as start-up consultation hours. This also included making the start-up location known through worldwide activities. This spring, the focus will turn to our international start-up prize, the Future Hamburg Award. We already have very promising applicants including start-ups from South Africa, Korea and Australia. The deadline ends on January 31, 2019 so applications can still be submitted.
Hamburg News: What exactly is the Future Hamburg Award?
Reichboth: The Hanseatic city has plenty lot to offer, especially innovative technology companies. The ecosystem is seen as one of the best in Europe and several digital success stories such as myTaxi, Jimdo or Xing hail from Hamburg. The “Future Hamburg Award” is a ticket to Hamburg as a business location as well as to Germany and Europe. The winners of the award receive tailor-made support entering the market and developing their business model and can present their start-up at the Online Marketing Rockstars (OMR) Festival in Hamburg to more than 40,000 visitors and is a special, festival highlight. Ultimately, the award, like many other measures, serves as an occasion to communicate and to attract attention. The overriding objective is to stir up enthusiasm among start-ups about Hamburg. As a unit, we also have an impact on the Hamburg start-up scene itself and provide support and networking opportunities.
Hamburg News: What are your other priorities for 2019?
Reichboth: As a small team, we need to focus clearly. This year, the main focus will be on networking Hamburg’s start-up ecosystem internationally and raising visibility. We want to make Hamburg better known nationally and, above all, internationally as an attractive location and as a stronghold of start-ups. Last year, we represented Hamburg’s start-up system and the unit in seven countries. We want to build on that this year. We will be flying the flag in Tallinn and Tartu in Estonia and at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, in Budapest, Tel Aviv, Scandinavia and in Lisbon. The “Future Hamburg Award”, launched by Hamburg Invest and Hamburg Marketing, also plays a role therein.
Hamburg News: What makes Hamburg special as a location for founders?
Reichboth: Hamburg has a broad-based economy and, as a city-state, the advantage of short distances. More B2B business models, for instance, are located here than in other German cities. Hamburg, as the world’s third largest aviation location and Europe’s third largest seaport also has an above-average number of start-ups in the logistics sector. The fintech industry and the entire blockchain sector is becoming increasingly important to us. There will also be some innovations during the year. And, of course, in a verdant city like Hamburg, the quality of life is particularly high, as surveys repeatedly confirm.
Hamburg News: What do you particularly like about your job as head of the Startup Unit?
Reichboth: The fact that you can achieve an awful lot. But, above all, the people I deal with every day. Institutions, private initiatives – everyone is highly professional, passionate and enthusiastic. And, of course, the founders themselves and the very special spirit in Hamburg’s start-up scene, far more than the sum of these individual factors. It’s hard to describe, but unique worldwide. Hanseatic, naturally, straight and purposeful, but at the same time incredibly experimental and creative.