CleanTech Innovation Center’s Start-ups and Culture

Three Start-ups in the early stages of development

Today we spent our afternoon at the Clean Tech Innovation Center. Although it may have been hard to find, it was a very interesting space with a lot of early stage startups. While here, we were able to check out three very different startups that all share the same space.

Nuventura:

Nuventura is looking to find a way to make a cleaner grid by producing an IP based technology that converts synthetic CO2 into naturally decomposable substances. The founder took some time to speak with us about his motivations and his struggles being an early stage start up. Formally an electrical engineer, the founder quit his day job to work on a technology he believed would solve the world’s future problem regarding CO2 emissions. He focuses his work on the technology and not on creating a marketable product since his background his not in advertising or manufacturing.

He also shared his thoughts about working in a shared workspace. Something he said that was intriguing was that he liked that he was able to bounce his ideas off of people, but also that they all had a connection because of the fact that they were all trying to become something from nothing. They all face struggles with funding. Yet, he told us that he doesn’t feel competitive against the other workers because they are all working on such different ideas.

A representative of Shoutr Labs explaining the innovative technology to our group

Shoutr Labs:

Shoutr Labs is creating a beacon Wi-Fi network for museums. These beacons offer an interactive audio guide for patrons of the museum, which allows people to use their existing technology without taking up any storage or using any data. This auto-syncing technology even allows people to view 360-degree photos, by simply scanning a QR code upon entering an exhibit. One interesting feature that this technology offers is a type of virtual experience. Shoutr Labs created a system for the natural history museum that makes it seems like there are dinosaurs in the room via your phone screen. With this function, people can take selfies and feel close to live dinosaurs!

A QR code for Shoutr Labs’ beacon network. It allows museum goers to enter a world of virtual reality when walking through exhibits.

Skypoint:

Skypoint is working on producing storm resistant fix drones equipped radar, camera, and surveying systems. These drones are tethered to the ground and produce energy through wind collection using the small turbines on the product’s shell. The product’s founder and CEO has a lot of visions as to where this technology can go. For example, it could be used for property protection, open pit mining, delivering goods after a natural disaster, filed management, control of an unmanned vehicle, herd management, and border control. Border control, specifically for the US-Mexico border, seemed to be the main target for this product as he was marketing to private security companies.

All the functions and uses that Skypoint technology was looking to solve. Although still in the early stages of design, this product seems to be a very versatile option for the future.

-Megan Gwynn

Clean Tech Center

The Benefits of Creating an Industry Cluster

On the east side of Berlin, the Clean Tech Business Park and Innovation Center are growing to become the hub of clean technology. The Clean Tech Center is focused on supplying co-working office space and manufacturing space for any startup or business that contributes to sustainability and environment consciences. When we visited, they explained to us the benefits their park and greater Berlin offers to its customers and how the formation of the center forms an innovative cluster.

The logo of the Clean Tech Innovation Center in Berlin.

The property contains office space, production space, and large outdoor testing lot. The Clean Tech Center is forming spaces suitable entrepreneurs by giving them areas to create, test, and produce a product. This all-inclusive area is one of their selling points and something they hope will draw people to the area. Also, they hope will draw more people with the attractiveness of Berlin. As Berlin is being reshaped since reunification it has become the startup hub of Europe and a central city for research universities and economic opportunities. The Clean Tech Center hopes this environment will draw innovators to their campus.

A communal kitchen and eating area for the workers. This area is surrounded by four or five open room offices where different startups are working on their ideas.

The Clean Tech Center also offers incentives to increase the area’s desirability. They receive funding from the European Union which allows them to lower rent to a cheap price of €99-129 per month. The area is located near transportation stops, to cheapen the cost of transportation. On campus, they offer networking and collaboration services so innovators can meet with each other, share ideas, or network. Also, younger companies can learn and grow from the older companies. Conjoining an innovation center and a business park also has many benefits. By connecting the two parks people can now stay in one area as their business grows.

The property and facility brochure the Clean Tech Innovation and Business give out. These pamphlets discuss the benefits that come from working in a shared space, and having the ability to share knowledge and infrastructure.
The partners of the Clean Tech Center, notice that universities (local and international), companies, and the local government are all involved in the future of this cluster.

Creating a space for innovation in an environment that will sponsor it is a fantastic idea and needs to start happening in America more. Currently, America has large clusters like Research Triangle Park and, on a larger scale, Silicon Valley. These American clusters lack the shared infrastructure that makes the Clean Tech Center so appealing. The clusters in America are located well, surrounded by research universities and economic markets. But they are less dense and normally involve innovators working in their own building, and staying within their company. These places lack denser shared workspaces, and normally only have the occasional incubator or shared building.

American entrepreneurs should look into creating attractive workplaces with shared space. Having places like the Clean Tech Center could change the culture of working in America, shifting from getting a job in a pre-existing company to creating one’s own job in one of these shared workspaces because the social benefits and creative freedom is so attractive. Also, surrounding one’s self with people with like ideas and a place to collaborate will foster growth and innovation. I think shared spaces will motivate more students and people with ideas to feel their idea can become reality.

-Emily Bulla

The Reichstag

The History of Germany within a building.

The Reichstag is a building that has as much history as the country it represents. In the Heart of Berlin, Germany’s Capital, there is a massive stone building that holds Germany’s Federal Government. It was built in the late 19th century, and has laid witness to the incredible history that has taken place in Berlin since then. It was constructed at the beginning of the unification of the German States into one Federation, which would be ruled by Wilhelm of Prussia.

The federation was formed in 1871, but construction of the building didn’t start until 1882. There was an architect picked to design the building in 1872, but Wilhelm I would argue with Otto von Bismarck to the extent that all progress was halted. In 1882, another architect named Paul Wallot was chosen to design the building. His design was the one that would become a reality, and aspects of the buildings are still relevant today.

This is an side view of the building. It was important to note that the German flag flies right next to the European Union Flag on the building. Germany is very influential in the EU, and it is an important symbol for the German people.

The most noticeable part of the building are the four towers. Each tower represents a kingdom of Germany, and the statues on the pillars were intended to be representations of people from each region. Another architectural `feature of the building that was done in the original construction is the carved paneling that boarder the doors. These panels represent the two rivers that border Germany, the Rhine to the west and the Neisse to the east. This was supposed to be a symbolic entrance into Germany.

Wall carvings that represent the Rhine river. It is located just outside the door to represent a border for Germany. The other side of the door has a representation of the Niesse River.

Not everything on the building was originally planned to be there. On the upper façade of the building there is the phrase, “Dem Deutschen Volke”. This translates to, “for the German people”, and was a controversial addition. In the heat of the first world war, there was low moral on the battlefield, and within Germany. The Federal government had the idea to add this phrase to inspire the German people. However, Wilhelm II fought hard to keep it off the building due to its democratic implications. He eventually lost this battle, and the words were added in 1916.

The “Dem Deutchen Volke” means “for the german people.” It was added during WWI as moral booster for the the weary soldiers. King Willhelm was very against this addition.

After the war, Germany had a small revolution and the Weimar republic was created. Phillip Sheidemann, a German politician, actually declared Germany a republic from the balcony of the Reichstag. This building stayed the federal government during the years of the Weimar republic. After the Weimar Republic, the Nazis took control of Germany and thus the Reichstag. At the beginning of Nazi rule, the Reichstag caught fire with unknown causes. This gave the Nazis an excuse to basically decommission the building. This fit in with shutting down the German government I its current form. It was hardly used during the Nazi reign, but it still served as symbol for Germany. The soviets were keen on taking this building over as the final blow to the Nazis. The soviets actually lost rights to the building in the division of Berlin.

The Reichstag was in the West side of Berlin, but it was very close to east Berlin. West Germany had no need for a parliamentary building in West Berlin, so it was used mostly as event space. It was restored during this time to fix damages from the war. The fall of the wall saw a new future for the building.

This is one of the four towers on the building. They each represent a major region of germany that came together in the Unification. The towers have carvings and sculptures that represent things that come from that region.

The ceremony celebrating the reunification was held at the Reichstag, and it became the center of the city again. There was an argument of whether or not to bring the government back to Berlin from Bonn. After much deliberation, they decided to make Berlin the Capital yet again, and The Reichstag could return to its original purpose of holding the federal government. The Reichstag has witnessed an incredible amount of change, and still remains a marquee building for German culture.

-Matthew Bravante