A Prominent Visit to Berlin’s IoT Hub Blends Innovation with Politics

When the Mayor visits, it marks a big day. Thursday, August 16 was that day.

After the summerfest buzz of the IoT Hub at Factory in early July, Germany’s designated digital hub for IoT was on the regional radar.

Berlin’s Mayor Michael Müller has long been clear about his support for science from the German capital, and that inevitably involves research and technology. He’s interested in innovation centers around Berlin, so it was a good reason for him – together with the Commissioner for the Neue Bundesländer, Christian Hirte – to explore what’s happening here at this IoT hub.


After paying a visit the prior day to Fraunhofer FOKUS, Mayor Müller, who is also the senator for science and research for the state of Berlin, and Commissioner Hirte, toured the Factory Görlitzer Park business club. Catherine Bischoff, Chief Strategy Officer of Factory, led the visitors on a guided tour, showing Factory's community workspaces for entrepreneurs and startups. With this encounter, the Mayor and the Commissioner had the opportunity to see first-hand how Factory is continually growing as a community for a full-spectrum of innovators – ranging from founders, to engineers, to creative copywriters.


The visit involved attendance by key players from this particular dehub for IoT:

  • Fraunhofer Institute provides essential research and academic reach;
  • Factory Berlin’s infrastructure and community enriches hub activity;
  • Next Big Thing (NBT) leads venture development and shapes the ecosystem based on tech expertise in IoT and blockchain, while building partnerships with investors, corporates, and entrepreneurs.
  • In addition, Berlin Partner leverages relationships across political and social networks to offer opportunities in Berlin that strengthen federal and international positioning.




The tour culminated in a special one-to-one session at the NBT offices to discuss with the mayor our position in the heart of the IoT ecosystem as well as our unique approach to company building using IoT and blockchain. He heard from the CEOs of two of our ventures on how they are shaping products to match real needs of customers in the Healthcare and PropTech sectors.


Berlin’s Mayor Has Questions for IoT Startups

The CEOs from NBT ventures each presented concrete applications of IoT that will have a big human impact on people and their environments.

1. Jens Grudno, CEO of Assistr, NBT’s Healthcare venture, explained the real need for their supportive care system that helps elderly people deal with everyday challenges. This system has the potential to increase health, hygiene, safety and overall quality of life for elderly, as well as streamline the workflow of caregivers using IoT and sensor technology. He showed the first product, a sensor and a smart diaper, which can assess its contents and provide information back to caregivers, who can then prioritize better the next steps.


2. Dr. Franka Birke, CEO of METR, NBT’s Proptech venture, explained how IoT and sensors can save money and energy to manage multi-tenant buildings , a crucial topic for any city. She presented her company’s ‘M-gate’, an IoT gateway that currently reads heat and water consumption data; in the future, METR aims to collect all data from smart devices within a multi-tenant building – independent of device manufacturers and independent of wireless technology. Much like the conductor of a classical music concert directs many musicians to play in unison, METR orchestrates smart building innovation by different manufacturers through their IoT platform.


Berlin’s Central Position in an IoT and Blockchain Ecosystem

An insightful Q&A session after the presentations indicated that Mayor Müller (SPD), as well as Parliamentary State Secretary Christian Hirte (CDU), and other attendees such as Christian Gaebler (SPD), Chief of the Senate Chancellery, were curious about the process of venture development and finding use-cases for promising technologies.

This curiosity likely stems from the fact Berlin is quickly becoming a blockchain and IoT capital on an international scale – attracting investors, conferences, events, and prompted by companies like Bosch and Cisco who have set up major centers devoted to the topics.

During this important visit, NBT clarified how we effectively apply consistent technology solutions across different industries, which will hopefully lead to more such big days in the future. Stay tuned.

If you wish to get involved in our ever-growing IoT and blockchain community, click here to find out more about how our IoT Hub frames the ecosystem in Europe.

Photos courtesy of Max Reibert / Factory  & Elisheva Marcus / NBT AG.