The district of Vechta and the city of Lohne support the start-up centers on the innovation campus

Work on the new innovation campus on the industrial ring in Lohne is progressing. On September 1, the large loft office with workspace, launch space and meeting rooms as well as an adjacent event studio – complemented by classic offices and a campus garden – will open its doors for the first time. Service provider Shopjektiv, led by entrepreneur and multi-company founder Philipp Niehues as future anchor tenant, is busy transforming the former Rießelmann printing house into a modern digital location together with owners Irmtrud and Hermann Rießelmann.

A key element of the new innovation campus is the start-up center, which is connected to the “Start:Punkte” network of the startup region Oldenburger Münsterland. This is an area on campus where startups can rent good and cheap jobs. The city of Lohne and the district promote this with two separate programs which, combined, offer attractive conditions for start-ups.

The bill: A shared office job at the start-up center costs €350 per month. According to Daniel Kathmann (business development), the district will cover 50 percent of the rental costs for the first 2 years as part of the business start-up grant. The city participates – and upon request – for 5 years with 100 euros per month and the workplace. This results in a monthly rent for a start-up of only 75 euros at the beginning.

The co-working space will later be built on the wooden frame: Philipp Niehues (center) informed Daniel Kathmann from the area’s economic development agency and the mayor of Lohne Dr. Henrike Voet on construction progress at the new innovation campus. Photo: Timphaus

The mayor of Lone Dr. Henrike Voet calls the dual funding option “the highlight for the founders”. Niehues particularly emphasizes the long-term nature of this funding. “I would like to say that this offer is unique in Germany.”

In his opinion, this is also necessary. “At the end of the day, we are competing with start-up centers in big cities,” says the entrepreneur, who wants to use the collaborative approach to appeal to the digitally-affiliated youth. “We’re creating the office of the future. That also means giving people a reason to come to the office.”

The launch center is prominently located on campus

In detail, the city’s funding is a little more complicated: Lohne grants a rent subsidy of 100 euros per month and a workspace to business founders who rent space in the start-up center. Funding is limited to up to 3 jobs per company, company age 5 years and 10,000 euros. Billing is done directly with the launch center via a voucher system. And further: Niehues received 40,000 euros as an advance to set up the start-up center. The rent subsidy from the city to the founders is offset against this advance. If the 40,000 euros of vouchers have not been refinanced after 5 years, the entrepreneur from Lohne will return the remaining amount.

The rent includes, among other things, the workspace itself, the use of common areas and meeting rooms as well as the innovation campus mentoring program. If the founder rents a specialized workspace (400 euros per month) or an independent double office (450 euros per month), he must cover the additional costs himself.

According to Niehues, the start-up center is purposefully placed prominently at the entrance to the former printing room. Visually, the equipment stands out from classic office furniture. In the center is an “open table” with 8 workstations. “This is the open space. There are also 3 semi-open alcoves and 3 closed offices,” says Niehues.

“Of course this project is also an experiment.”Philipp Niehues, owner of the service provider Shopjektiv and multiple company founders from Lohne

The innovation campus itself was originally designed for 60 jobs. However, there is scope for further expansion on the site. “We are prepared for any kind of attack,” says Lohner. According to his own statements, he currently has 15 inquiries – from young startups to classic service providers. “This shows there is a need,” says Voet.

In the conscious dissolution of private and professional life, he sees an approach that young people especially want. The collection beds, the beach club hut or the “flunkyball court” in the campus garden also contribute to this. Niehues talks about “working from home, only without the downsides.” From the mayor’s point of view, shared exchange is a valuable asset that the innovation campus offers. “A local network grows quickly. Thanks to the mentoring program, founders have an experienced contact person – and thus receive practical advice.”

Niehues admits: “Of course this project is also an experiment.” However, the city of Lohne shares his view that the innovation campus could become an “iconic project with a national impact,” as stated in the draft resolution.

  • Information: You can find out more about Innovation Campus Lohne online at www.innovationscampus-lohne.de.

Leave a Comment