Filiz Sarah Gärtner

CODE_n SPACES: Tobias Rehberger designs “Super Duper Studio” for digital pioneers

What are spray cans, colorful adhesive tape and a giant mirror doing inside GFT’s headquarters? Artist and sculptor Tobias Rehberger, who designed the innovation hall at the first CODE_n CONTEST at CeBIT 2012, has now turned his attention to the SPACES, the latest element in the CODE_n ecosystem. In our interview, he reveals his concept for the design of the space in which startups and established companies from the Stuttgart industrial zone will network in the future. High-profile managers move into the second story of the building; the first floor is reserved for digital pioneers who may have groundbreaking ideas, but who still need space and vital contacts. The CODE_n SPACES are set to change this.

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Mr. Rehberger, this isn’t the first time you’ve worked with CODE_n. For the first CONTEST, you designed a trade fair concept that was intended to stay around for a few days and draw attention. With the SPACES, you are now creating a permanent area for young companies. At the same time, the startups are only staying for a finite length of time. What was the idea behind the design of the first floor?

Rehberger: The rooms may be permanently occupied by startup companies, but it’s primarily about flexibility and improvisation; the ability to change something quickly. When I think of startups, I don’t think of carefully planned and organized workflows, in which the next step is already pre-defined. Instead, I’m creating spaces here for people for whom exactly the opposite occurs: Spaces where they can improvise, where they can invent, where they can respond quickly to different situations. This is why we also have the garage element, the unfinished feel.

In the entrance area, the slogan on the mirror is quite eye-catching: Super Duper Studio. The checked pattern on the walls spans the entire floor. What’s behind this?

DSC_0508Rehberger: In the 1960s and 70s, there was a group of architects from Italy called Superstudio. They developed superstructures with Utopian constructions that covered entire landscapes. These architects used the check pattern as their trademark, because their ideas came from a checked sheet, the draft pad of an architect. This superordinate thing, this superstructure that takes over everything, it matches the philosophy of a startup very nicely. When you’re founding a company, you’re ready to give some things up: The work, the passion for what you do, overtakes all other areas of your life. More…

Filiz Sarah Gärtner

CODE_n SPACES – First Innovation Hub Opens in Stuttgart

CODE_n SPACES is the name of the latest element in the CODE_n ecosystem. In addition to the CONNECT digital platform, the SPACES are an all-year-round, physical platform that networks promising startups and established companies. On the first and second floors of the newly built GFT headquarters in Stuttgart’s Fasanenhof, spaces have been created over an area of 2,000 square meters that are geared entirely towards innovation in terms of their design and function. They were designed by the artist and sculptor Tobias Rehberger. In our interview, Ulrich Dietz, CEO of the GFT Group and the initiator of CODE_n, explains the concept behind the SPACES and extends an invitation: Digital pioneers can apply straight away.

GFT Corporate Center

The first CODE_n SPACES in Stuttgart are now ready. Who are you looking to appeal to with this innovation hub?

Dietz: CODE_n, whether it be with the elements CONTEST, CONNECT, EVENTS or SPACES, generally always has one goal: we want to offer people with unusual ideas a platform – lateral thinkers, digital pioneers, designers of the future. Young companies need to network with experienced people and established companies in order to promote the development of new, groundbreaking business models. With the SPACES, we have put together a creative space for this collaboration to take place. Digital pioneers, young startups, experienced managers, but also teams of innovators from large companies, can register with us and apply for a place in the SPACES.

What requirements must an applicant meet to secure a place in the SPACES?

Dietz: We are intentionally not focusing on a specific target group or on definite requirements, because what we want is the right mixture of exciting projects and ideas. Our desire is to also bring together startups and companies that might actually be in very different stages of development. Whether it be an early-stage startup or an already well-established young company, none of this matters for the application process. The idea needs to convince people, and then we can agree on the use of the SPACES individually. Applications can come from any industry – even though we naturally assume that the Stuttgart site offers tremendous potential in terms of mobility and industry, we’re very open to other areas too.

What’s special about the CODE_n SPACES?

Dietz: The SPACES combine the concept of creative design thinking premises with the idea of co-working and a professional working environment at the same time. The flexible elements in the “Super Duper Studio”, designed by artist Tobias Rehberger, means we are able to respond spontaneously to the different target groups and applicants in the CODE_n SPACES. At the same time, our digital pioneers and innovation teams have the opportunity to improvise by themselves and adapt their office to the conditions they want to work in. Flexible dividers, for example, allow offices to be quickly rearranged, expanded or merged. There are options for quiet time, as well as open areas, offering everything that a young company needs in its early stages. Experienced managers on the second floor have the ability to move into a prestigious, high-quality office.

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Moritz Gräter

Moving ahead: GFT invests in CODE_n Alumnus parkpocket

In our first interview with parkpocket, Karoline Bader, CFO of the future mobility startup, told us all about their initial idea and vision. A lot has happened since then: the team backing siblings Karoline and Stefan Bader worked hard; parkpocket celebrated a product relaunch today. Originally based in Munich, they grew immensely and recently opened a second office in Stuttgart, located in the CODE_n SPACES. This goes hand-in-hand with even bigger news: GFT, the initiator behind CODE_n, has invested in the startup once selected as finalist for the CODE_n15 CONTEST.

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Around half a million – that’s the amount GFT invested in the startup with the parking solution; however, the bond between the young company and its investor goes beyond money. Ulrich Dietz, CEO of GFT and CODE_n initiator, believes that the parkpocket solution “will solve a very essential issue. An issue that millions of people face on a daily basis.” To Stefan Bader, CEO of parkpocket, Ulrich Dietz has taken on the role of a mentor: “For us, GFT is a partner and advisor, rather than just an investor,” he says. The relationship is also special in the sense that, while GFT has acquired quite a few firms in the past, this is its very first startup investment.

Embedded into the CODE_n Ecosystem

With the opening of an office in the CODE_n SPACES, parkpocket is automatically embedded into the CODE_n Ecosystem – even more so now than they were before. Although CODE_n has been set up as an international startup initiative, bringing in partners and know-how from all over the globe, being based in the CODE_n SPACES Stuttgart means: being close to Baden-Wuerttemberg’s strong industrial environment. As a future mobility startup, parkpocket will definitely be benefiting from the fact that the automotive industry is literally right around the corner.

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Felix Jansen

CODE_n SPACES for Future Mobility in Stuttgart – Innovation Campus for Startups and Digital Pioneers

It’s the start of something completely new in the Stuttgart: CODE_n SPACES, an arena specially dedicated to innovation at the GFT Group’s new corporate center. Measuring 2,000 sq m, the arena gives startups, innovation teams at established companies, and creative thinkers all the space they need to dive into the task at hand and define the shape of things to come. On board since its inception: EnBW, closely involved as a strategic partner of the CODE_n innovation platform. The focal topic: Future Mobility.

GFT Corporate Center

CODE_n SPACES: a place to explore creativity without limitation

“The first question we posed was, ‘What, aside from a brilliant business concept, do young and established firms need to be innovative and successful and to be part of the transition into a digital society?’ The answer was patently obvious: a place for both parties to explore their creativity without limitation; to collaborate and network with universities, international businesses and investors. This fired the starting shot for our very own innovation ecosystem, CODE_n SPACES,” states Ulrich Dietz.

The founder and CEO of the GFT Group already got the ball rolling for CODE_n in 2011. Every year since then, the international startup contest, which awards a prize of €30,000, has been hitting the headlines at CeBIT, the world’s biggest IT trade show. And all for the right reasons: The initiative has become a mecca for digital pioneers worldwide. Following in the footsteps of the online platform CODE_n CONNECT, which the GFT Group only recently catapulted from the launch pad, CODE_n SPACES now becomes the next extension to the initiative.

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