The entrepreneurial spirit haunts the Speicherstadt historical warehouse district. Where goods such as coffee and spices were once stored and refined, today huge quantities of data are stored on hard drives and business ideas are developed ready for the market. A fresh wind is blowing through the M28 creative workspace in particular.
As the building’s owner, HHLA Real Estate elaborately renovated the old warehouse block and created spaces that initially offer no indication of the building’s previous use. Open-plan spaces with very flexible floor plans, which means they can be adapted easily to the requirements of even smaller-scale tenants. Beneath the copper roof, a modern working space offers room for spontaneous meetings, easy-to-move furniture and an open-plan kitchenette. Three accelerators support a select group of start-ups within the M28 block, which are able to try out and hone their innovative business ideas for six months within a protected environment.
HHLA is a contributor to accelerators like NLA, Rainmaking and supports the Digital Hub Logistics. Why are start-ups such as these of such interest to HHLA? Start-ups are major drivers of progress, including in the logistics industry. They inject new ideas, which HHLA checks very carefully to see if they can be used to leverage new growth. HHLA is actively involved with some new companies because their expertise can help develop technologies, while others are just a good investment. Another reason is because they bring a new sense of dynamism to the corporate culture. Lots of young business founders see challenges from a different perspective and are able to find surprising solutions. Their creative process is more open and more willing to take risks. They know that they are allowed to make mistakes and simply try more things out.
As soon as you enter the Lab inside a historic storeroom building on St. Annenufer 2,you can feel the transformation. Glass walls have been inserted between the impressive oak uprights, creating an open and easy-going atmosphere. Despite this casual feel, however, work is progressing apace on the “logistics of the future”. “We are the top address for the digital business transformation of the logistics industry in Hamburg and all of Germany,” the website states.
Some examples of these interesting start-ups can be found in Block M28, where a Centre for Drone and Virtual Reality Technology is becoming established. The start-up Spherie, in which HHLA holds a 25.1 percent share, is part of this. Spherie already develops specialist drones and works with subsidiary HHLA Sky to come up with new technological solutions.
HHLA already uses drones for maintenance and inspection work, for example, in order to conduct visual checks of container gantry cranes. Drones are used throughout the logistics industry, and not just to deliver parcels and to lift goods.
HHLA SKY also wants to tap into completely new areas of business. From the air, drones can measure areas with great accuracy, search for missing people, identify pollutants or spray agricultural fertilisers precisely on target. Nicolas Chibac, who founded Spherie, sees drones as “airborne sensors that generate data. Our expertise provides the impetus for HHLA’s digital revolution process.”