Bonn Hub. Incubator. Startup center. Coworking space. Food lab? The last time I wrote about Bonn Hub, aka Digital Hub Bonn, it was July 2016 and just days after they had secured access to 3 million Euros of funding. The plan back then was bold and finally, 7 months later, Bonn Hub will have an opening party. Unfortunately the real-world Bonn Hub isn’t quite like the picture that was painted back then.

To be fair, finding a location in Bonn must be incredibly difficult at the moment as Bonn enters into a multi-year program of re-development. All the space in front of the main station has been vacated for a new concourse and just 5 minutes walk away there’s another area that’s been emptied for redevelopment. The main station has lost 1 of its 6 platforms and there’s little in the way of open car parks. A new train station is being built to the south which means huge plots of land are being cleared for new offices and apartments. Bonn is going through the biggest changes it’s had in the 15 years I’ve been here.

The second problem is focus. There are a lot of partners involved in Bonn Hub and each of the stakeholders wants a say. Some of them want a stable investment platform. Others want to see acceleration in new areas of digital business. The public have a say too as 50% of the money being invested belongs to them. And then there was a management change which saw ‘designated manager’ Cedric Teichmann leave the team to develop the Startup Bonn meetings into Startup Garage, a Friday coworking initiative.

Finally, I guess, there’s identity to consider. It’s important that Bonn Hub supports the core values of Bonn business. Bonn is known for Beethoven but perhaps a classical music-focused startup incubator would be a little too niche! Does Bonn attempt to branch out into virtual reality, digital finance or multimodal transport? Or does Bonn stay close to its existing pillars of economic strengths in international peacekeeping, medical research, sustainability and NGO work? Probably the latter.

Bing! Idea! We interrupt this article to bring Bonn Hub a great idea.

As I write this I ask myself why Bonn Hub doesn’t take over the old, and huge, and wonderful Waldau Restuarant in the forest on the Venusberg. It’s close to the University Clinic, there’s parking, buses, a bar, kitchen, huge amounts of space, peace, no neighbors and it’s an inspiring piece of land. Sustainable restaurant at the weekend, anyone?  [Gets on bike to take pictures…..]

Waldau – Bonn’s sustainable innovation center…

I’m surprised I hadn’t thought of this before. Waldau needs investment and in return it offers a huge hall for events and co-working, separate areas that could be used as offices, cellar area (video and audio studios?) and a Biergarten. There’s a nature museum being renovated in part of the building and wow…it’s perfect as a ‘sustainable innovation centre. ‘  OK, there’s work to do here. 300,000 Euro  investment to bring it up to standard and, what, 5K Euro per month rent? 1K service costs? I believe the city of Bonn owns this building so maybe there’s a win-win to be had here with a subsidised rent? Look at that wonderful building. Why does an innovation hub have to be in a city center? Why not in the beautiful green countryside just 15 minutes from Bonn main station. Wouldn’t it be great if the Waldau could be rescued through innovative sustainable startups and public money?

But I digress…

Perhaps Digital Hub Bonn had no choice but to team up with an existing coworking space for the sake of progress and so it is with a level of happiness that I see Digital Hub Bonn teaming up with Startup Bonn in the same Coworking location. We’ll find out exactly what the deal is on the 20th Feb.

Digital Hub Bonn launch party program (tickets here.)
Short introduction and welcome to Digital Hub Bonn
Startup Live Pitches: Technologies and business models.
Corporate Incubation as a Service
Networking, Fingerfood & Party

360-foto of one of the rooms at Coworking Koeln Bonn (not Coworking Bonn – that’s in Popplesdorf and where I have my multimedia studio!