Nord Hessen Online: The first of five online study visits

Following the physical study visit from Lublin, Poland, the succeeding study visits for the project were foreseen to be held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On the 9th of September, we had the pleasure to attend the first online SCALE UP Study Visit, organised by the partners from Nord Hessen. The aim of the six study visits conducted within the project’s framework is to provide information about and to assess the transferability of each of the Best Practices (BPs) prepared by the partners. 

The region

The study visit began with an overview of the Nord Hessen region. After being welcomed by Astrid Szogs (CEO of e.V.), we watched an introductory video to the region. After which, Svea Gockel (Project Manager at RegionalManagement Nordhessen GmbH) described Hessen with factual data (area: 6,908 km2; GDP/adult: 20,306€; unemployment rate: 5.1%; etc) and summarised the SWOT analysis of the region. Among the strengths, we can mention that it is a geographically centred and well-connected location which possesses a strong industry and cultural offerings. Some weaknesses include a weak east-west rail and road connection along with an aging and decreasing population. Some of the opportunities are cross-innovation and cross-cluster innovation potentials or research results and stronger support for utilisation lines for SMEs’ funding programmes. Among the threats, we can mention disruptive technologies and new global mega trends such as the autonomisation of mobility or the electrification of drivetrains.   

The study visit’s core: The Best Practices

After the introduction, we were introduced to the three BPs chosen by Nord Hessen. The first one was the MoWin Innovation Lab, which takes place on a quarterly basis and is intended for members to get their innovation professionally assessed, by presenting it in front of a professional expert panel. The objective of this initiative is to identify cooperative R&D projects through targeted networking between companies and the university to increase R&D activities. Then, two beneficiaries of the MoWin Innovation Lab— doks. Innovation GmbH and Faubel u. Co. Nachfolger GmbH, showed how they benefitted from the Best Practice. 

The second BP was the pilot project on Scaleup Support in Hessen. Based on the EU “startup and scaleup initiative” the Enterprise Europe Network Hessen (EEN Hessen) and the state economic development organisation Hessen Trade & Invest GmbH, started ScaleupHessen. They already had a pilot project to support scaleups wherein they came up with a few ideas and tried to understand what a scaleup is and what its needs are. The beneficiaries of the BP who also gave presentations were Angels FrankfurtRheinMain e.V, who would like to close the capital gap in the regions, and, a podcast focused on providing information about the German start-up scene to an English-speaking audience.  

The last BP to be presented was IHK Hessen innovative. IHK Hessen innovative is the innovation and technology transfer consultancy of the 10 Hessen Chambers of Commerce. They offer both pull services such as IPR and CE consultancy and push services such as the spreading of new innovation methods. Their main activities include consultancy, network organisation, technology transfer support and organisation of seminars, workshops (this last one is the sole activity that requires a fee). Afterwards, a representative of Wetekam Group explained that they rely on IHK Hessen innovative to get information about public aid for companies and networking services.

Final remarks

We would like to conclude by stating that the online Nord Hessen study visit was, by any yardstick, and despite being the first one, a success. It was very well structured, and the moderators managed time efficiently enough to let everybody ask questions and stick to the time allotted. We are confident that the other partners will build up their corresponding study visits on this past experience and offer events as satisfying as the Nord Hessen visit.