Berlin: A home for innovation

Photo courtesy of InnovationLabs Berlin.

The German capital of Berlin is known for being a breeding place for everything new and hip, inviting innovative and passionate people to explore their possibilities. The city has long been at the forefront of modern culture and creativity, and it shows in the multiple places for artists, entrepreneurs and innovators to work in. There are businesses, galleries and agencies constantly looking for new talent.

Berlin, as it is today, is a fairly new city, coming to its own after the wall that divided it came down in 1989. The usual characteristics of a big central European city, such as the high-brow culture, bureaucracy, conservativeness and expensive living costs, are not as evident in Berlin. The free-spirit atmosphere has brought in a population and an urban lifestyle of its own. The government and international businesses have recognised Berlin’s potential, thus investing in keeping the creative growth going.

Another person who’s tapping into the creative industry of Berlin is Klaus Kammermeier, a consultant working with technology-based startups to better their business. He established an agency called InnovationLabs in 2014.

“Innovation has always been my passion. From my experience, I’ve seen well established companies do business both well and bad. So that’s the knowledge I’m utilising with my consulting”, he says in his office in the district of Schöneberg.

Kammermeier has studied and worked internationally, but he settled in Berlin in 2005. He thinks the city is appropriate for startups because of its open-minded attitude.

“The people of Berlin are used to change because of the history. They adapt to rapid change quite easily, it’s in the city’s genes”, he explains.

“And it’s cheap, partly because there are not many banking or other high-paid jobs that would make the price level increase. It’s attractive to artists, creative people and international people.”

During the 1990’s technology companies began to flourish in Berlin, starting the digital transformation in the working world. Even though the city has struggled economically, it has still been one of the most vibrant places when it comes to modern fields. For new and smaller companies, it offers a start that doesn’t necessarily cost too much, and the same goes for migrants. This has resulted in a unique diversity, which is also appealing to Kammermeier and his work.

“Diversity is one of our core values: I want to work with people from different backgrounds, fields and with various talents.”

But he’s not oblivious to the financial difficulties that new companies face.

“It’s still relatively hard to fund a company here, but it’s getting better. The government does recognize Berlin’s status as a place for upcoming businesses, and lots of companies get support”, he says.

Practical support can be just as valuable as the financial, and that’s where InnovationLabs comes in. Depending on their needs, startups can be provided with consulting on technical commercial developing, marketing or business management. The clients coming into the agency are mostly technology companies, but also from other fields – after all, technology is a part of most fields these days, either on a bigger or smaller scale.

“I want to provide a unique network and platform for the people we work with. It’s a combination of consulting and training, and that’s what makes us stand out”, says Kommermeier.

The InnovationLabs team consists of a core of five to seven people, including web developers, marketing professionals and interns. Together they work on the different services they provide to clients. The services are divided into different “labs”, all focusing on a specific aspect of business development. NanoLabs offer consulting on a smaller scale, but intensely. For example, a three-hour workshop can be set up, where the team of a startup comes up with solutions to challenges they might be facing.

MicroLabs offer a bit more time, from a few days to a few weeks. That can be a program or a camp where a product is prototyped, and new customer experiences or business models are created. The third and final step is SpeedLabs, which revolves around accelerating the implementation of a new product or another innovation and can last up to several months.

The start of a collaboration between a startup and InnovationLabs can go both ways: Either a company contacts them, or they reach out to a possible client. Kammermeier makes sure there is communication from start to finish, gathering feedback throughout and tailoring the experience to fit the client’s needs.

“The goal is to be approachable to both big and small companies”, he sums up.

Places like InnovationLabs are not only common but crucial for Berlin, whose economic state could possibly be turned around with success stories coming from creative people coming together.