Daimler’s Innolab in Überseestadt provides 350 square metres of experimental space for the automotive manufacturer. Here, seven PhD students are working on the automotive challenges of the future.
Playroom or workspace? It can be difficult to tell with Innolab’s ‘thinking room’, which is dominated by a huge wooden construction that looks like a cross between a bunk bed and a cave. Beside it are small tents made of pillows and blankets, and comfortable benches for relaxing on. Is this still a place for working in? “Absolutely,” says Christo Papanouskas, owner of Assassin Design and external advisor to Innolab. “The space we find ourselves in affects the way we think. We have to get away from the desk if we want to be creative.”
Silicon Valley is very much the role model here. For years, Google, Amazon et al have provided spaces where their employees can engage in creative thinking away from the distractions of their inbox and telephone. Innolab is picking up on this idea and developing it further: “We designed all the fixtures and fittings ourselves to exactly match our requirements,” he says.
The young entrepreneur knows what he is talking about. His agency, Assassin Design, advises start-ups and medium-sized businesses on matters such as innovation, change management, strategies and business models. His 21 employees enjoy considerable freedom to influence how they work, and he runs his business as a democracy – everyone has a say in the direction it takes.
The partnership with Daimler came about through a start-up event in Bremen that Papanouskas was hosting. The company was looking for a specialist in the concept of New Work, and Papanouskas was intrigued by the opportunity to create a space for experimentation.
Over the course of seven weeks, Daimler’s PhD students and the agency team hauled 1.2 tonnes of gravel and sawed and joined five tonnes of wood. The results are impressive: there is a modular and mobile kitchen, a large meeting room with stools, tables and raised areas, a space to retreat and think, two wood-clad balconies, a Zen garden and an office with twelve workplaces that are mobile and height-adjustable. And all on the fourth floor of an office building in the heart of the Überseestadt district.
“The Innolab is a space where research, experimentation and education come together,” Papanouskas says. The students can work on the issues and challenges of the future while testing new working methods and environments. And they pass on the insights gained in regular workshops at Innolab, where teams receive training on new work methods such as Scrum, design thinking and kanban. The teams can also use the space to hold meetings on internal departmental matters.
Businesses can hire rooms, including equipment, for creative workshops for up to 20 people, providing the opportunity for in-depth dialogue and learning. The premises also offer space for co-working desks. “We are looking to engage with the many start-ups and creative people in Überseestadt, with the aim of pooling our ideas,” says Papanouskas.
Co-working and room hire are not what one would associate with a global company such as Daimler, so what drove it to found Innolab? “The economy of the future will be characterised by greater uncertainty and rapid change,” Papanouskas says. “Many no-go areas no longer apply. The boundaries between personal and working life are blurring, individual responsibility is on the increase and old forms of capitalism are less dominant.” Consumer models are also changing. Car sharing is becoming more popular, and not everyone will want to own their own car in the future. This is uncharted territory for an automotive manufacturer.
It is a future that Daimler will need to adapt to early on. That is why there are Innolabs throughout Germany – the one in Bremen specialises in the future of working environments. “We’re looking towards the next 15 years. Our PhD students are conducting research into questions such as: how can we prepare managers for the workplace of tomorrow? How can we make use of swarm intelligence? How can we remain profitable in uncertain times?”
Challenging questions in a challenging environment. “We’ve had a steep learning curve. There are no precise specifications and everyone has to organise themselves. Handling this sort of freedom in the workplace can be exhausting,” Papanouskas says of the first weeks in the lab. “Technology – or more precisely, digital technology – is not the decisive factor in the office of the future. More important will be how we communicate and organise ourselves.”
This is because everyday work will become more fragmented in the future. According to Papanouskas, employees will have to work on multiple smaller tasks, with little opportunity to focus on a single one. People will have to learn how to handle this type of working. One innovation at Innolab is a new way of conducting meetings. These days, the researchers will meet for several 20-minute meetings rather than for ones that could go on for hours. They also use a digital CRM system to organise their day. Both the offline and online spheres are important in the working environment of the future.
To many people, this may sound utopian, as the majority of industrial jobs do not fit into this pattern. An assembly worker cannot decide when to come to work or what to work on, that would lead to chaos. And a bookkeeper has a clearly defined remit and cannot just choose any task to complete.
“But these people may have valuable ideas that a company can use to remain competitive in the future. It is important to value experience, for example in an interdisciplinary design thinking workshop where engineers and product designers are joined by assembly workers and body painters. Many jobs are undergoing change – tasks will be taken on by computers, leaving us free to spend time on activities that are more creative than they are currently,” says Papanouskas.
Until then, there will still be plenty of thinking, inventing, tinkering and changing around at Innolab. “The office is never finished, which is why we’ve dedicated Wednesday afternoons to building work. This allows us to concentrate on the rest of our work on all the other days,” Papanouskas adds.
Your contact at Innolab: Christo Papanouskas, firstname.lastname@example.org, +49 (0)170 23 16 996
For more information on the automotive industries and logistics, please contact Kai Stührenberg, +49 (0)421 361-32173, email@example.com.
Your contact person for Bremen Hansalinie Industrial Estate is Jutta Zernikow, +49 (0)421 9600 249, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Überseestadt (New Harbour District), please contact Dagmar Nordhausen, +49 (0)421 9600 252, email@example.com or Jons Abel, +49 (0)421 9600 613, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is this what the salesman of the future looks like? With "Pepper", the Bremen-based start-up Blackout Technologies develops unique software based on artificial intelligence throughout Europe.
Werder goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka owes his job to artificial intelligence. He was designed by the team of JUST ADD AI. Founder Roland Becker tells us how other medium-sized companies already benefit from AI today.
Artificial intelligence is regarded as an absolute growth topic - should every company jump on the bandwagon now? No, says Bastian Diedrich from the Bremen digital agency hmmh, but he makes an important restriction.
Artificial intelligence is becoming part of everyday life, and Bremen-based companies are leading the way. We have put together a ‘who’s who’ in artificial intelligence in Bremen.
Whether they involve flying around virtual spaces or manipulating reality, augmented and virtual reality open up new dimensions. A number of companies in Bremen are working on these technologies, and one of them is even the global leader in its market.
Automotive engineering is one of the key industries in the state of Bremen. An overview of companies, institutes and initiatives at the location.
From one side of the Atlantic to the other: two graduates from New York University travel to Bremen for a research internship – and immediately want to stay.
In this interview, Andreas Heyer, CEO of Bremeninvest, explains the nature of the Überseestadt property market, the area’s positioning within the sector, and his assessment of its future prospects.
DIGILAB Brennerei 4.0 supports companies on their digitalisation journey with free and independent services. Getting started has never been easier.
Bremen’s IT sector is an important pillar of the local industry. We introduce ten IT service providers.
The state of Bremen covers 420 square kilometres and is home to around 670,000 people. Almost 22,000 companies provide more than 325,000 jobs. Below, we introduce some of the strong sectors that that make Bremen such an excellent business location.
Bremen is Germany’s sixth-largest industrial hub in terms of revenue. Whether the sector is aerospace, food, automotive, shipping or steel production, Bremen has always been a major player.
The best of both worlds. A young Indian from Bremen is helping German engineering to benefit from India’s factory capacities and vice versa. And everything is completely digitalised – with one click in real time, an order can be sent straight to the Indian factory. The benefit for manufacturers is huge.
Bremen is expanding. Several construction projects will reshape the city centre. The 2018 Bremen property market report – an overview of office, logistics and retail properties, and of investment market trends – confirms that the city is an attractive location for investors and developers.
How is the role of media and other forms of communication changing in society? What are the resulting challenges? The international MA in Digital Media and Society, which launches at the University of Bremen in time for the winter semester, aims to provide the answers.
Airbus is a global trailblazer in the field of 3D printing, and the aerospace company has established a technology centre for this new production method in Bremen. This is one of many reasons why the Hanseatic city has become a hub for 3D printing in Europe.
We don’t normally get to see Littelfuse’s products. And yet there’s hardly any electronic device that doesn’t require components from this global market leader. The European headquarters of the US firm are located in Bremen. And they’re far more than just a sales office.
Exciting times in Überseestadt, Bremen’s New Harbour District. Large parts of the old 400 metre long Schuppen 3 building are to be demolished to make way for a new quarter featuring a mix of apartments, offices, retail units and services. And there is a good reason why it will be called EuropaQuartier.
The depths of the ocean remain one of the last great mysteries on Earth. What is the precise composition of the seafloor? What flora and fauna inhabit it? Where has the delicate balance of the ecosystem been seriously disrupted? We still don’t have complete answers to any of these questions, but four young scientists from Bremen are aiming to change that.
Bremen has the right location to suit any company, from the logistics sector at the Cargo Distribution Center (GVZ) to research institutes at the Technology Park and international companies at Bremen Airport-Stadt. Or perhaps you are looking for more of a mix of sectors to stimulate creativity? We can show you the right business park to suit your needs.
Even Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible would find it difficult to break into this data centre. Metre-thick concrete walls are just one of the many security measures protecting this bunker.
On the south side of the Europahafen, it’s full steam ahead for a new urban development showpiece – the Überseeinsel peninsula. Formerly the business premises of Kellogg’s, this 15-hectare pocket of land now has investment backing from Europa Immobilien GmbH, represented by Dr Klaus Meier. In our interview, he talks about opportunities, challenges, and visions for the future for the Überseeinsel.
Unloading shipping containers requires manual work, which is pretty unusual in the automated and digitalised world of logistics. But a Bremen-based research project aims to change all this with its IRiS robot.
The Bremen Hansalinie Industrial Estate is ideally situated for businesses in the automotive industry, located in the immediate vicinity of the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen just off the A1 autobahn. But it also offers a number of benefits for service providers, trading companies and the skilled trades. If you want to set up business here, you need to act quickly.
Mercedes-Benz in Bremen is the lead plant that manages C-Class production around the world. In addition to detailed planning and tight logistics, this also requires a good intuitive understanding of the market. Whether it is in China, South Africa or the USA, the sites around the world have to produce vehicles of consistently high quality. Find out here how the plant manages this.
In December 2014, ORTEC GmbH moved from Lower Saxony to Bremen. The software specialist hoped to strengthen its market position by moving to the city’s Überseestadt district. Around three and a half years later, we got in touch with the company again to ask whether the move has been a success.
The production line hardly ever stops at the second-largest Mercedes Benz plant in the world. Thousands of components have to be delivered to the right place at the right time – there is no room for errors or delays. LOREL Logistik GmbH undertakes a huge logistics operation every day to ensure that everything runs like clockwork.
Working on your laptop while the car takes care of the steering? This could well be the future for car travel. Teams in Bremen are working towards this end goal, with scientists from the university taking their first test car out on the road. Their expertise in aerospace comes in handy here too.
You rarely get the opportunity to try out musical instruments when you buy them online. Bremen-based start-up TonePedia has developed a piece of software that allows musicians to properly compare guitars, bass guitars, amplifiers and effect products online. This saves time and reduces the number of returns and the associated cost.
Formula Student is a world-wide competition for self-built racing cars, with the season’s final race held at Hockenheim. A Bremen-based team has been taking part in the competition with an electric racing car since 2013, and their ambitious goal is to break into the top ten.
Is this what sales assistants of the future will look like? Bremen start-up company Blackout Technologies develops software based on artificial intelligence, unlike any other software in Europe. Before long, we’ll be greeted by their robot Pepper in shops, at trade fairs or even in care homes. We visited Bremen’s robot lab to find out more.
The research alliance ROBEX is sending robots up active volcanoes and down into the deepest and darkest seas. Working across disciplines, the 120 scientists of the 16 institutes involved are breaking new ground on this project. They have been eagerly waiting to find out what has happened to the TRAMPER diving robot, which has been exploring the deep seas around Spitsbergen for a year. Now they are ready to bring it back.
A growing number of companies are becoming more aware of their social and environmental footprint, and are looking for ways to act with greater environmental and social responsibility. Germany’s north-west is set to become the national centre for social entrepreneurship in logistics. A new platform is under development and the first round of events is being planned to achieve this goal.
This new master’s degree at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences prepares students for the future and offers them excellent job prospects.
BLG Logistics Group is a major player in logistics with 18,000 employees. It established the Digilab in Bremen as a core element of its digitalisation. The company’s premises are reminiscent of start-ups in Silicon Valley, and there are good reasons for that.
FabLab Bremen invites visitors to learn about new manufacturing technologies and try their hand at everything from laser cutters to printing and programming. Digital technology enthusiasts of all ages and programmers of all abilities are welcome here. And it is not long before they can put what they have learnt to good use.
An engine under the bonnet drives the wheels – this is the configuration that has been powering cars for over a hundred years. However, wheel hub motors – i.e. motors in the hub of the wheel, not under the bonnet – promise many advantages. Electric drive systems make this possible.
A great deal of manual labour goes into aircraft construction. Despite this – or perhaps even because of it – Airbus is changing its approach to make increased use of digital technologies. It’s also researching the applications of new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing. And not a moment too soon, as Airbus’ site manager in Bremen, Dr André Walter, explains in our interview.
The Bremen Hansalinie Industrial Estate is a successful business park that is currently undergoing expansion. Several major logistics companies have based themselves here, developing increasingly sophisticated processes that aim to optimise just-in-sequence production for the automotive industry.
They came, they saw, they marvelled – Chinese business people in Bremen visited the Mercedes-Benz plant and were surprised to find that an automotive manufacturer with a vast robot workforce was also Bremen’s largest employer, with just under 13,000 (human) employees. But where do they all work?
A car plant seldom comes alone. Many suppliers have based themselves in close proximity to the automotive giant Mercedes Benz in Bremen. They ensure that the assembly line never stops. We demonstrates the wide range of companies and technologies that make up Bremen's automotive supply chain
No fewer than ten Mercedes-Benz models proudly bear the seal 'Made in Bremen'. They range from standard saloons to sports cars and SUVs. Which one do you like best?
BLG LOGISTICS GROUP AG & Co. KG’s AutoTerminal in Bremerhaven is a record-breaking automotive hub. Every year, the terminal handles some 2.3 million vehicles. But that’s not all.
The Bremen region has long been a pioneer in electric mobility and is now set to enjoy further success after Mercedes-Benz and Borgward announced that they will be making electric vehicles in the city.
Bremen knows how to make cars: the Mercedes-Benz plant by the Weser river has been in operation for almost 40 years, is the focal point of the city’s automotive industry and automotive clusters, and is now the company’s biggest global facility in terms of vehicle production numbers. Reason enough for an ever-growing number of suppliers and logistics firms to base themselves in Bremen.
Whichever C-Class model the German or European customer chooses, one thing is for sure: it will be manufactured in Bremen, the centre of excellence for the C-Class. Fans of open-top driving will also be delighted to see that the new C-Class convertible ...