Berlin Airlift site touted as tech start-up hub

Berlin's iconic Tempelhof airport could become a hub for internet start-ups. The huge buildings have been largely empty since its closure in 2008, and those in the city's growing tech company scene could be the people to fill it.

Berlin Airlift site touted as tech start-up hub
Photo: DPA

The Berlin senate is, according to the Bild newspaper, scoping out the expansive buildings which were once part of the airport as a home for start-ups firms – one of which is founded in the city every 20 hours.

A report released by consultants McKinsey & Company on Tuesday confirmed the capital’s status as one of Europe’s leading tech start-up hubs. In 2012, venture capitalists invested €133 million, compared with €19 million in Bavaria and €14 million in Hamburg.

With the start-up scene on track to produce 100,000 new jobs by 2020, Berlin is outstripping European capitals London, Paris and Moscow as a centre of newly-founded companies.

The study called for a new Berlin Gründerzeit – the period after German unification in 1871 when the city boomed. It said the capital must take advantage of its potential by founding a campus for start-ups with Tempelhof suggested as one site.

Berlin’s Mayor Klaus Wowereit told Bild that with a central location that could be rented flexibly, Tempelhof could be ideal. “I like it a lot. It’s a symbolic place that could be given an edge by the start-up scene,” he said.

Tempelhof opened in 1923 and was one of the original commercial airports. It kept West Berlin going during the city’s division – in what is now known as the Berlin Airlift. Goods flown into the airport kept 2.5 million residents alive for nearly a year.

As the airport began to wind down traffic after 1996, most of the bigger airlines operating out of Tempelhof began moving to the city’s two other airports, Schönefeld and Tegel.

It shut in October 2008 and since then the field has become a popular park. The hangars and buildings have been used to hold big events such as fashion week, trade shows and festivals.

CLICK HERE for pictures of Tempelhof through the years

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