Claudia Frey, Managing Director of MUC GmbH, with Clemens Baumgärtner, Head of the Department of Labor and Economic Development for the city of Munich.
© D. Bruniecki

Munich Urban Colab – Mr. Baumgärtner, How Are Things Going?

The construction work on Munich’s new innovation and startup center Munich Urban Colab in Kreativquartier are in full swing. We wanted to find out more from Clemens Baumgärtner, Head of the Department of Labor and Economic Development in Munich: Is everything going according to plan?

Munich Startup: The innovation and startup center Munich Urban Colab is set to open in early 2021. That leads to our first question: How are things going? Will you be able to stick to the schedule?

Clemens Baumgärtner: Yes! We aim to open in the spring of 2021. I hope our plans won’t be upset by the weather or any other unexpected incidents. After we open, startups, corporate innovators, academics and creatives will be able to work together on innovative products, smart technologies and services for cities of the future.

I am very pleased that we were given the opportunity to collaborate with UnternehmerTUM to make this unique approach a reality. Munich Urban Colab will give the city of Munich access to all of its projects and programs as well as diverse opportunities for individuals to introduce their own approach to problems or participate in test runs and programs. We want to come together in a productive environment with top-notch expertise and a central infrastructure to develop smart solutions for growing cities of the future. And that won’t happen just at desks, but also under real conditions in suitable test areas.

Munich Startup: In terms of content, Munich Urban Colab will be dealing with the subject of Smart Cities. What is Munich hoping to gain from this focus?

Clemens Baumgärtner: Munich Urban Colab aims to make new forms of interdisciplinary collaboration possible. The focus is on solutions for cities of the future. We aim to develop and test technology-driven innovations in the fields of mobility, living and working, artificial intelligence and energy supply. This approach is unique and has the potential to put Munich in a trailblazing international position in the development of smart city solutions.

Munich Urban Colab as a national and international hotspot

Munich Startup: Are Munich startups given preferential treatment or is the aim more to accommodate international startups?

Clemens Baumgärtner: Munich Urban Colab is open to everyone. It is a place where founders and innovators from Munich and the entire world will work on projects together. The aim is for the Colab to be a hotspot for national and international partners from industry, academia and the startup scene.

Munich Startup: Munich Urban Colab is located in Kreativquartier on Schwere-Reiter-Straße — what else is Munich planning for the district in addition to Munich Urban Colab?

Clemens Baumgärtner: Munich is taking a whole new route in developing the creative district on the former site of the barracks Luitpoldkaserne: In the years to come, a new urban district will emerge in which living, working, research, art and culture are closely interlinked. It is important to us to carefully develop its current uses to bring new impetus to the existing city and take advantage of the potential that already exists in the area. The concept is interesting and counteracts the classic competition for space right from the planning stage: In addition to cultural, creative, social and retail use, the plans also include 820 apartments, an elementary school, a new university building and public green spaces and open air-leisure areas. Munich Urban Colab is in close proximity to the art scene in Kreativquartier. The landmarked industrial buildings Jutier- und Tonnenhalle will become the cultural and creative economic center of the creative park.

Startups as a key driver in future industries

Munich Startup: And to conclude: How would you gauge the importance of startups for Munich’s economy?

Clemens Baumgärtner: Startups are very important for Munich’s economy. Munich is one of the most economically successful and rapidly growing big cities in Europe. It is a hotspot for companies, startups and founders. They can all develop more sustainably here because a series of established companies that are willing to change are located here. That is complemented by an excellent academic environment, which makes the city particularly attractive to tech-oriented startups. Startups therefore account for an interesting share of innovation and are an important driver of future-oriented industries.