Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Germany cooperates with Hamburg start-ups
Hamburg’s HafenCity is one of the world’s most important urban development projects. From 2022 on the southern Überseequartier will form its lively core: a mixed-use quarter with creative and forward-looking concepts for living, working, enjoying, and shopping. Innovative ideas are therefore in demand in all sectors of the new area. In order to find, promote and integrate these, project developer Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Germany is focusing on cooperation with start-ups and think tanks. These are coordinated by innovation manager Joscha Domdey. Among the first partners are the Hamburg companies: e-floater and Wunder Mobility.
“The southern Überseequartier will be a true digital native – from a planning as well as from a functional point of view,” Dirk Hünerbein explains; Head of Development Germany and responsible for all Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield development projects in Germany. “We are therefore considering all aspects of a digitized district right from the beginning: from intelligent building technology to smart logistic- and traffic-control-systems up to tailor-made solutions for retail and gastronomy concepts. In this way we are developing a flexible and agile neighbourhood in which stationary and digital concepts merge with one another as a matter of course”.
Innovative Mobility Solutions for the HafenCity
Joscha Domdey is responsible for the integration of these concepts: “Already three and a half years before completion of the quarter, it is the task of the innovation manager to establish relationships with start-ups and think tanks which develop intelligent solutions for the future. The 29-year-old has already gained experience in this area within the company as part of URW Lab – an open innovation platform from Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which develops new concepts for the retail sector together with start-ups and companies. In recent years, Domdey has also hosted accelerator events in which young companies can apply for strategic partnerships and investments.
With regard to the HafenCity, Domdey will initially focus on mobility issues in particular: “How people – whether residents, visitors or working people – get into the quartier, how they move therein and how they leave again are key questions for us. Especially in this area there are promising approaches to solutions which we would like to further develop together with our partners and adapt to the HafenCity”.
e-floater: low-emission E-Scooters for short Distances
Among the first partners with whom Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is developing more concrete plans for cooperation in the HafenCity are two Hamburg companies, e-floater and Wunder Mobility. The key word for e-floater is micromobility: the company is developing low-emission, easy-to-use e-scooters for short distances in city centres. Registered users can borrow these easily via app. From 2022 on the e-floaters could also be used in the southern Überseequartier and make it easier for visitors to travel within the HafenCity as well as to other quarters and city districts.
“By exchange with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield we gain valuable insights of requirements which our products should fulfill and which enable us to discuss in a very realistic application scenario how our offer can be integrated into a project like the southern Überseequartier,” says Oliver Risse, founder and managing director of e-floater. “Particularly, exciting for us is thereby also the growth potential beyond .“
Intelligent Carpools with Wunder Mobility
Wunder Mobility is one of the fastest growing mobility tech companies in Europe and paves the way for networked and sustainable mobility with its products. With “Wunder Carpool” Wunder offers an innovative technology solution for commuter car pools, which could aim particularly at working people in the neighbourhood. The bringing together of employees from different shops per app, who then share a vehicle with several people, is already being tested in Germany’s largest open-air shopping centre, the Ruhr Park in Bochum, operated by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.
“In view of the fact that the number of vehicles registered in Germany continues to rise, innovative concepts and developments are more in demand than ever. With our technological solutions we want to help cities and companies to offer sustainable mobility solutions to improve the quality of life in conurbations and rural areas,” explains Gunnar Froh, CEO of Wunder Mobility.
In View of further Cooperations
The focus on innovations, start-ups and think tanks is thus also part of the overall corporate strategy of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. “The cooperations with e-floater and Wunder Mobility are a great start for us,” says Joscha Domdey. “Our goal is, of course, to develop a wide-ranging network here in Hamburg and to initiate a large number of projects that will also enrich the community life in HafenCity beyond the neighbourhood”. In addition to the mobility topics, partners in very different areas will be introduced. The spectrum ranges from co-working concepts to augmented and virtual reality applications up to multisensory experience-worlds.