20. June 2013–
In a bid to raise the standard of innovation in Germany, Berlin tech hub Factory has announced a new programme to "community source" ideas: Berlin Innovation ConSensus. Simon Schaefer, founder of Factory, announced today they're partnering with a few corporates to make it happen, including Deutsche Bank, Google and Shell – which all had representatives at a press conference this morning.
From now until mid-August, anyone can put forward their ideas on the Innovation ConSensus site – the team is looking for innovation in ten areas: education, mobility, health, energy, infrastructure, culture, creativity, finance, business and a final wild-card area that's still to be determined.
People are being encouraged to think big with their ideas, Google representative Dr Wieland Holfelder said: "We're not looking for ideas that will make something 10 per cent better, they should make things 10 times better."
The community on the ConSensus site itself will make a shortlist of the concepts that will take part in a two-day conference on 31 August, where the best 10 ideas will then be chosen. The ideas don't have to be fully developed when they're posted online – at the conference 30 experts from corporations, smaller companies, startups and the cultural and research spheres will come together with the idea-makers to brainstorm how to implement them. This could include drafting a white paper to hand in to politicians – relevant for one example named this morning: finding a way to introduce more entrepreneurial projects to primary schools.
Innovation ConSensus – what's in it for the idea-makers?
The panel were rather cagey when asked whether the chosen ideas will receive financial benefits, saying that the networks that Shell, Deutsche Bank, Google and Factory offer are far more valuable than investments. Schaefer did say that the teams behind the winning ideas will hopefully be housed in the still-to-be-completed Factory (the model is pictured below), logistics allowing. Exactly who will make up these teams was also not clearly defined – Schaefer said that as the ConSensus is a startup in itself, they haven't worked out all the fine print yet.
The date of the conference is also tactical – it's shortly before the September German federal elections. This was a deliberate move, Schaefer said, as while a number of major politicians have voiced their desire to boost the startup scene in Germany, they haven't followed through with policies. He said he hoped the Berlin Innovation ConSensus will be a push to turn empty words into actions.
A new push to bring corporates and startups together
As for the corporates, both Dr Peter Blauwhoff from Shell Germany and Harald Eisenach from Deutsche Bank said they're supporting ConSensus as they want to get their foot in the door of innovative companies. Both companies outlined a number of programmes they are already running to support entrepreneurship within their own firms.
One of the Factory's biggest aims is to bring old and new businesses together – it has done this in the past through a collaboration with Google, which pledged €1m to the tech hub. As for the latest programme, it can't be a bad thing that more corporations in Germany are taking note of the startup scene and actively getting more involved in promoting innovation in the country.
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