Thorsten Hülsmann, Managing Director of EffizienzCluster Management GmbH

The research and innovation location for logistics in Dortmund already covers a significant part of the innovation chain – from fundamental research up to applied research with industry partners. The still existing gap between the pre-competitive research and implementation of the results into the market is now filled by Digital.Hub Logistics. Companies are specifically supported in developing digital products or hybrid services for logistics. Thorsten Hülsmann from the Management team of the Hub demonstrates how companies benefit from the digital ecosystem in the Ruhr metropolitan area.


It is undoubted today that digitisation will fundamentally change logistics. The vast majority of companies in Germany expect a wide dissemination of data goggles, drones or autonomous vehicles in logistics in the next ten years according to a survey of Bitkom, Germany's digital association. This does however not change the fact that companies understand digitisation as a big challenge. This is exactly the point where Digital.Hub Logistics begins with a new model: supporting so-called start-ins. Start-ins are independent digital teams or units within companies that deal with innovations beyond the day-to-day business and the usual product development process. Especially for companies with mainly material assets and analogue business models – like in logistics – this is the ideal possibility to push forward the development of digital projects, products and services in a digital ecosystem.


Individual Roadmaps for digital Innovations

In order to support companies to be successful with the digital transformation Digital.Hub Logistics developed a novel supporting concept for start-ins. Offering working places in the individual coworking space, access to the labs and demo centres of the Fraunhofer institutes and TU Dortmund University and to testbeds of Duisburg Hafen, it includes the necessary infrastructure on the one hand. On the other hand, the hub offers a variety of innovation components that contribute to the success of the project – be it reliable concepts of the innovation management or new formats of the start-up scene. A programme manager of the hub supports the digital team on its way from idea to market. Together with the start-in he/she develops a working and coaching programme. Innovation components are arranged to such an extent that an individual roadmap arise for the digital innovation. The service providers and experts of the hub partner network provide more impetus.


On the way towards digitisation, Digital.Hub Logistics does not only take along the established companies but is also looking for contact to start-ups: creative heads from established and young companies inspire each other. In this context, Digital.Hub Logistics announced the first Digital Logistics Award this year. Digital teams from all over Germany could apply for the award. Despite the short notice, the hub received 39 applications in total – for example in the fields of city logistics/CEP service, track & trace, freight exchanges and sensor technology and data analysis. The high amount of applications in particular from North-Rhine Westphalia proves the fruitful local start-up climate here. The start-up teams have the potential to make logistics somewhat more successful. In the years to come, Digital.Hub Logistics will also address itself to this task with its partners – with an ecosystem for sustainable logistics.



Thorsten Hülsmann is Managing Director of EffizienzCluster Management GmbH that runs the head offices of EffizienzCluster LogistikRuhr and of the Industrial Data Space Association.



•    Digital.Hub Logistics is supported by the Fraunhofer Institutes for Material Flow and Logistics IML and for Software and Systems Engineering ISST, EffizienzCluster Management GmbH and Duisburger Hafen AG. The idea traces back to an initiative of Bitkom, Germany's digital association, and is part of the Digital Hub initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) with twelve hubs in total. A joint umbrella branch (de:hub) and a joint hub agency facilitate networking and exchanging of know how. You can find more information on (in German).


•    In the context of the Digital Logistics Award, eight digital teams selected by a jury at the Future Congress Logistics in Dortmund pitched for a total of more than 25,000 Euros in prize money and in-kind benefits. The digital team of MotionMiners from Dortmund that developed a solution for the automatic registration and analysis of industrial working processes came first place, the start-up Wingcopter from Darmstadt with its hybrid high speed drone that is implemented in medical logistics came second place and "Ridesharing for freight" of the Munich founders LoadFox third place.