by Joshua Whitney Allen

Reborn after communism’s fall, Berlin’s tech class receives IBM support

Published May 06, 2015


There are cities known for technological ambition: Palo Alto, Tel Aviv, Tokyo—and now Berlin. Long poor and struggling in the post-communist word, the capital of Germany has become a center of tech creativity and investment. Multinational companies now look to the city as a base of operations, and a startup is born in Berlin each day.

This trend has not been missed by IBM. In an effort that is both grassroots and mindful of the influence Berlin could have on global IT, Big Blue is supporting, a new online hub for the city’s tech denizens—startups, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and digital advocates. The hub, a center of shared drive and cultural spirit, is run on IBM Cloud and aims to inspire new connections, announce new opportunities, and create new partnerships to spur local economic activity.

The site is an interactive platform that provides a central location for visitors to learn about new job opportunities; read about local tech news; sign up for tech-focused events, classes, and meet-ups; and navigate the city with a digital map that lists open office locations, workspaces, and more.

That such a giant like IBM would move to offer such a resource is more evidence of the city’s remarkable resurgence. According to, Berlin’s information and communication sector has grown 58 percent in gross added value since 2005, says Hertmut Mertens, Chief Economist at the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB), which finances local business. Berlin is home to at least 2,500 startups, according to The Guardian.

The city has attracted the biggest names in technology; Bill Gates supports the renowned ResearchGate program, a social-networking effort that supports scientists with study sharing, job announcements, and career resources.

With innovative universities and a magnetism that draws global companies and creates jobs—Fujitsu, GroupOn, and Corning all operate in Berlin—a spirit of identity and hopefulness has grown in the city. It wasn’t always this way.

As the 20th century ended, the Berlin Wall fell and capitalism replaced communism, many companies collapsed in the face of competition or were bought out by westerners. Unemployment in Berlin soared to 19 percent by 2005.

The city’s history changed, as the collective story around Berlin goes, when a call by the mayor—he called the city “poor but sexy”—drew artists, who sought low rents, and tech innovators. Now, as quoted in an IBM statement, “Every 20 hours a new Internet company is being found in Berlin,” says Guido Beermann, Permanent Secretary in Berlin’s Senate Department for Economics, Technology, and Research. “The digital economy in the capital accounts for every eight new jobs, with no signs of slowing down. Whether it is jobs, venture capital, networking or operational support—`´ is an excellent opportunity for everyone interested in founding a startup in the German capital to find all of Berlin’s available resources of the tech and digital ecosystem at one spot.”

The economy is still coming out of its sluggish past. Nearly 17 percent of residents receive welfare—more than half the German average. The technology sector will need to continue its expansion if Berlin can truly thrive.

A resource like could help the sector mature. As described in a statement, the city of Berlin provided content and additional resources for building the hub, which is intended as the main platform for communicating with entrepreneurs. will also offer a comprehensive search portal with a database and profile of Berlin-based tech companies and investors; a city-wide tech event calendar; continuous updates of technology-related jobs in the city; and a dedicated section for breaking news stories. is hosted on IBM SoftLayer cloud infrastructure and will be updated regularly using tools from IBM Bluemix. Through its support of the site, IBM will offer up to $120,000 of free cloud credit for local qualified startups to use as they build their business on the IBM Cloud. It will also develop content with advice for startups on how to use social, mobile, analytics, and cloud technologies to build their business.

IBM is bold in its determination to operate in Germany, the homeland of rival and occasional partner SAP. As part of its $1.2 billion investment to expand its global cloud footprint, IBM announced in January the opening of its first cloud data center with SoftLayer in Germany.

According to a release, this Frankfurt facility provides customers with a local cloud center to help them meet Germany and Europe’s strict security and data privacy regulations, improving application performance by lowering latency for local customers.

The Frankfurt facility is part of SoftLayer’s global network, differentiated by its network-within-a-network architecture, and offers 10Gbps connections to SoftLayer services, with only 7 milliseconds of latency from SoftLayer’s Amsterdam facility and less than 330 milliseconds of latency from other SoftLayer cloud data centers around the world.



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