Impact Report 2020
“Collaboration is the key to a future that works for both people and the planet.”
In 2013, a small group of us who shared this belief came together to create Impact Hub Berlin – a community of people who wanted to make a positive impact on the city, the country and beyond.
We’ve always known that the world’s greatest challenges will never be solved by one person or organisation alone. But the past few years – and especially the last year – taught us three more key lessons about the business we’re in. We’re taking these learnings seriously, and are building on them to gear up for our next big step…
hours of support
We’re in the business of supporting entrepreneurs and innovators
We’re not in ‘the coworking business’. Simply providing a pretty space to work in is not ‘us’. We pride ourselves on our hosting practice (both in person and online), and our members mean so much more to us than just ‘bums on seats’. We’re also not in ‘the events business’. Our strength is in creating engaging, original formats that inspire, connect and enable our community – and we’re much better at this than just providing event space as a service. We’re not even in ‘the consulting business’ – we’ve come to realise that what we actually rock at is co-development and execution. Our business is combining all these elements.
Thematic focus is key
Since Impact Hub Berlin started, sustainability has become a ‘megatrend’ with more and more actors involved. In this context, focusing on impact ‘generally’ has limited how much we can influence individual issues. We realised that in some parts of our business, we need to be more intentional. That’s why we’re zeroing in on the Circular Economy, Sustainable Food, Diversity & Inclusion, and Green Tech as our current four core ecosystems for our programming and partner selection.
Size does matter
Looking at the startup sector as a whole, merging and acquiring other businesses are common practices for growth. This is something that’s rarely seen in the impact world, and is sometimes even looked down upon. But throughout the years, we’ve found that there are reasons to learn from these trends – and they’re not related to profit maximisation. As a fellow changemaker put it: Impact = Purpose x Scale. We have lots of purpose. Time to add scale.
Taking everything we’ve learnt as a team, we’ve also recently announced the plans for our new home: a 3,500m2 collaboration and maker space, built and run entirely according to inclusive, circular and sustainable principles. So keep an eye out for what else we’re doing in 2021 and beyond. Expect not just new places, but new projects and programmes. Expect focus. Expect scale.
What do we expect? For you to join us on our journey to enable even more impact.
Nele Kapretz & Leon Reiner
Co-Founders & Managing Directors
We're Part of A Global Network of…
The Covid-19 pandemic had a massive impact on all our lives and work. We were both lucky and proud to continue to support impact entrepreneurs to grow and thrive throughout the year, as well as initiating new projects to specifically tackle challenges that were exposed and exacerbated by the effects of the virus.
Here’s what we did:
We need to work together to shape a future that works for both people and the planet.
We were inspired by the resilience and determination of the Impact Hub Berlin community and programme participants throughout a year like no other. Here are just a few snapshots from those stats and stories:
The Good Run
got off the ground in style, raising 15k EUR in crowdfunding for their sustainable sportswear platform.
In 2020 we created:
We supported the
impact innovations (organisations or initiatives, excluding #WirVsVirus) and the growth of
more, through our consultancy projects & programmes
As a result:
Zero Waste Berlin Festival
pivoted to hosting their conference online – the first of its kind for the sustainable consumption community in Berlin, attracting 300+ attendees.
won 3 million EUR in funding for their blockchain-led, transparent and sustainable supply chain solution.
Our members mean so much more to us than just ‘bums on seats’.
24 Good Deeds
sold 71,300 advent calendars, funding 1,977,500 ‘good deeds’ in support of social initiatives worldwide.
In the face of the great challenges of our time – climate and environmental degradation, social inequality, and a global public health crisis – the new generation of impact entrepreneurs has a leading role to play. We strongly believe that providing innovators in Berlin with access to the right economic, physical and network assets helps to unleash their potential to tackle these problems.
We collect data from our community once a year via the global Impact Hub Survey, as well as through programme-specific tracking tools. Although we’ve always been careful and confident in ensuring that our work has a clear and positive impact, we have to confess that forensically monitoring all aspects of this has not always been consistent.
Many elements of our work have often felt intangible, like the effect of everyday interactions that occur at our events, during our support programmes, or in our coworking space Café Area. These often lead to fruitful partnerships (more than once, romantic as well as business-focused!), but how could we accurately capture all the long-term, permanent effects?
In the past year, we’ve revisited our Theory of Change, passed it around, over-complicated it, ripped it up, simplified it again, and realised that it will always be undergoing change and iteration. We’re still learning, and would love to hear your feedback.
Central to our approach is a core thesis that Impact Hubs have been using to bring sustainable innovation to scale globally for 15 years:
"Impact does not happen in isolation. It requires collective action."
That’s why we work to build a community where diverse stakeholders come together to share, support and collaborate on an equal footing. We work with both impact entrepreneurs building new initiatives, as well as impact intrapreneurs creating change from within existing organisations.
We offer on- and offline infrastructure to help them thrive. Our ‘bricks and mortar’ offer includes coworking, meeting and event space, as well as innovation labs.
Our online offer (which, unsurprisingly, expanded rapidly in 2020) includes our community platform, office hours and virtual events. These connect, enable and inspire members to exchange ideas, to build their networks both locally and globally, and to learn from others.
Through partnerships with government, civil society and private sector partners, our incubators, accelerators, and other innovation formats support impact entrepreneurs and their teams to develop and grow.
The core of our work
The core of our work is supporting promising innovators and impact entrepreneurs to develop and implement innovative solutions, and to establish them successfully in the long term. Our goal is to enable them to significantly contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
This is how we make change together:
In 2021, we’re putting our laser focus on our four key impact ecosystems:
Growing resource scarcity calls for more responsible production and consumption measures across supply chains. We must eliminate waste by transforming our economy from linear (take, make, waste) to circular (reduce, reuse, recycle).
The climate is rapidly changing and so must we. It’s imperative that we accelerate innovation through technology to both mitigate and adapt to the spiralling climate crisis and protect our natural environment.
Diversity & Inclusion
In the face of unacceptable levels of global inequality, we must act now to foster social, economic and political equity for an inclusive and sustainable world, irrespective of gender, race, age, ethnicity, religion, income or any other factor.
Food is the second largest startup industry in Germany, but at the same time, is one of the biggest contributors to CO2 emissions and loss of biodiversity. We need innovative and sustainable food solutions that meet the needs of tomorrow.
Our ecosystems are made up of a community of passionate people, regular events, research publications and innovation programmes, centred around one of these challenge areas. We’re bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, consumers, governments, corporates and NGOs to work within these ecosystems with us.
We’re working to spur innovation and co-create the vital solutions the planet needs. If you’re also engaged in and passionate about one or more of our ecosystems – let’s collaborate.