Networking is key to innovation and co-creation. Especially in the early stages of a young company, building business contacts can be essential to paving the way for international collaboration and getting the first foot in the door of future investors. This is one of the reasons why creating a global network is a significant goal for BLOXHUB. The Hub continuously organizes and collaborates on international networking events and debates to connect BLOXHUB members and relevant international partners.
On July 8, 2021, UnternehmerTUM, the leading center for innovation and business creation in Europe and host of the Munich Urban Colab, organized one of those events in collaboration with BLOXHUB and DTU Skylab – the International Entrepreneurs’ Night. With a strong focus on Smart Cities, each edition of the event features one international role model metropole or area that drives technical innovation and growth, which in this case was Copenhagen.
Start-ups from the BLOXHUB community were chosen to present their innovations on sustainable solutions in urban planning in front of Munich’s entrepreneurial network, among them the founders from Living Better, HEMBOO, URBAN TREE, Cogo, and CLIMIFY.
Pushing the boundaries of sustainable solutions in urban planning
Michael Hallam, co-founder of HEMBOO, a young passionate company with a purpose-driven business model, gave an inspiring presentation:
“Currently building materials that offer alternatives to concrete are on the fringe of the sector and we want to make them more central, because there are so many sustainability benefits. Bamboo for example offers more structural strength than wood and is harvest-ready five times quicker – so why don’t we use it in European construction? Questions like this drive us at HEMBOO. Our mission is to develop and offer optimized solutions for prefabricated wall systems that make it easy to bring sustainable, natural materials to mass market.” Explained Hallam.
Both he and co-founder Elsa Maria Iuliano were pleased with the responses they got during the course of the event and the audience awarded HEMBOO and URBAN TREE with a prize for the best solution after the official program.
“We are a very young start-up and in order to convert our idea into reality it is important for us to create awareness about alternative building materials. Participating in International Entrepreneurs’ Night helps us get some good connections to relevant networks, collaborators and partners. Once we are established in Denmark, we would definitely be interested in the German market and now we can get in touch again when the time comes.” Said Hallam.
For the start-ups, the event was a great chance to connect with companies in a casual atmosphere. The pitch-session primarily served to exchange the most important information, as well as initial insights into the companies. The ultimate goal was to evaluate whether there was interest in a future collaboration.
Robin Eriksson, co-founder of Cogo, an app, which gathers shared electric scooters, bikes, cars and mopeds from 160+ mobility operators in one app, said: “The event led to interesting talks with potential investors and other contacts with whom Cogo could potentially collaborate to strengthen our presence in Munich, a city with so many mobility operators.”
Enabling space for innovation & co-creation
Joining a panel discussion on “Enabling space for innovation & co-creation” were experts from both Copenhagen and Munich: Marius Sylvestersen, Smart City Program Director, City of Copenhagen; Martine Reinhold Kildeby, Global Network Manager, BLOXHUB; Danny Vroemen, International Business Development; Dr. Ursula Triebswetter, Deputy Director Economic Development Strategies, Department of Labor and Economics, City of Munich and Sabine Hansky, Program Director & Expert for Urban Development, Munich Urban Colab.
During the panel discussion, Marius Sylvestersen, emphasized the importance of putting data and technology in the service of livability. Furthermore, he pointed out that in order to shape the city of the future with a human-centred approach to technical innovation and growth, collaboration across disciplines, sectors and borders has become absolutely necessary:
“Many of the problems facing cities today are so complex that it has become impossible to solve them without world class research from knowledge institutions, innovation power from companies and the ability to work with data. Solutions are created in partnerships, so in order to solve so-called ‘wicked problems’, we need an entire ecosystem working on them. This approach allows us to use complex problems as bait for companies, capital, knowledge producers and data crunchers alike.” Sylvestersen explained.
The event was streamed from both the newly opened Munich Urban Colab and BLOXHUB and Danish guests joined the audience at BLOXHUB physically to see the start-ups present their inspiring business ideas to Munich’s entrepreneurial network online.
Sabine Hansky also stressed the importance of breaking down the silos and working together. She pointed out that the beautiful and atmospheric architecture created for the Munich Urban Colab makes up a stimulating environment for coming into dialogue with the citizens and for eventually becoming a powerful platform for start-ups, corporates, innovators, students, researchers and artists to meet, discuss, explore and test solutions for urban challenges.
“The collaboration with BLOXHUB around International Entrepreneurs’ Night is a wonderful way to connect start-ups in Denmark with our network and maybe bring their products to the German market. Also, it is a great opportunity for Germany to get inspired by Denmark´s approach to developing smart cities. Cities worldwide are looking for solutions to the same urban challenges, so it is important to share knowledge and make sure we don’t have to invent everything twice.” Said Hansky.
As the co-founder of Cogo with an office in BLOXHUB, Robin Eriksson summed up why the right space for innovation & co-creation is such an important factor for a young start-up:
“We were recently selected to join the Urbantech program, which offers the opportunity to have BLOXHUB as our base. We have tried different co-working spaces around Copenhagen, but for us, BLOXHUB is by far the best because of its access to so many relevant stakeholders that share the same space. Bloxhub has great facilities with an office environment that offers fantastic, big open spaces, as well as private working areas, and silent booths. The location close to the Copenhagen canals just makes it extra perfect!”
BLOXHUB offers plenty of opportunities to connect with global partners on an international level. The International Entrepreneurs’ Night is just one of many networking events, debates and workshops. Keep an eye out for Global Days and learn how BLOXHUB’s international team and partners can support members in connecting to potential international partners and clients via programs and networks.