Digital Hub provides momentum for digital transformation in new innovation capital

The Digital Hub Logistics Dortmund is happy with the city of Dortmund about winning the competition “iCapital Award 2021 – European Capital of Innovation”. Dortmund won the title of European Capital of Innovation based, among other things, on its successes in the further development of the scientific competence field of logistics, the networking of science and business, and the start-up culture. “With the Digital Hub Logistics, we are making a significant contribution to accelerating the digital transformation in an extremely important economic sector for Dortmund,” says Hub Managing Director Thorsten Hülsmann. “At the same time, our innovation ecosystem is where the threads for the collaboration of corporations, medium-sized companies and founders with scientific institutions come together, including TU Dortmund and Dortmund’s two Fraunhofer Institutes.” The Digital Hub Logistics itself had won the first place Champions Challenge of the European Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) as the best hub in Europe two years ago.


The Digital Hub Logistics is considered the core of the innovation ecosystem for digital transformation in logistics. The logistics concept is broad and includes companies from many economic sectors, for example from production, trade, transport or the financial sector. This spectrum is also reflected by the hub’s members, which include startups as well as established medium-sized companies. “SMEs usually send so-called start-ins – digital entities with a start-up mentality – to the hub to develop new digital products and business models in collaboration with the research institutions available on site,” says hub manager Maria Beck, describing the way the hub works.


The hubs of the ecosystem include, in particular, the Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Ruhr-OWL and the Center of Excellence Logistics und IT. The Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum supports small and medium-sized enterprises from a wide range of industries with approaches to the intelligent automation of products and production systems and for autonomous and changeable logistics systems, as well as with new solutions in the area of production technology. The Excellence center, in turn, offers companies a wide range of transfer opportunities with its total of six labs. “In this way, we enable companies of all sizes to get to know the research infrastructure at the Dortmund location and to work on targeted issues together with subject matter experts from our innovation ecosystem,” says Dr. Matthias Parlings from the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML, head of the performance center. The topics include technologies for order picking, the use of exoskeletons in logistics, or the application of Mixed Reality (XR) in the education and training of warehouse employees.


The fact that innovations emerge from strong networks is thus proven by the Digital Hub Logistics as the best hub in Europe as well as by the city of Dortmund as the new European Innovation Capital. Thorsten Hülsmann: “We look forward to continuing to work together in the future to ensure that the city of Dortmund and the hub develop further influence with solutions for digital transformation not only locally, but also nationally and internationally.” With the EU project DIGILOGIC, Digital Hub Management GmbH, as the operator of the Digital Hub Logistics, has already built a bridge to Europe and the African continent and is networking technology-oriented companies and startups from a broad field of smart logistics through a variety of activities.