Where the mobility of the future is being created
Coworking- and makerspace for mobility innovators
As soon as you approach the large glass entrance to The Drivery at Berlin’s Ullsteinhaus, you’ll notice that things are going to be a little bit different here. Instead of a designated “reception” area, you’ll find the word “Inception” in large black letters on the door. “When our members enter the building, they’re already invited to start dreaming and thinking about how to turn their ideas and visions into reality,” explains Timon Rupp. “That’s why we have the reference to the film on our door.” Rupp is the founder of The Drivery, a marketplace for mobility innovations that opened in March 2019. For him, the “Inception” desk and the rest of the over 10,000 square-meter complex represent a dream come true: a modern hub where creative minds can work with the necessary infrastructure to create the mobility of tomorrow.
Much more than a co-working space
On a tour of The Drivery offices, one also notices quite quickly that Rupp and his team have meticulously aligned the complex to fit with cutting-edge technologies mobility. Indeed, the refurbishment of the offices in the Ullsteinhaus took a full year. On the ground floor, an auto repair shop moved into a space where fashion labels used to sell their latest collections to retailers. In eight so-called “hardware studios”, developers can install and test the technology they just programmed on the computers in the upstairs office directly on electric cars and autonomous vehicles. Seeing as few software developers are also auto-mechatronic engineers, these developers work side-by-side with specialists in high-voltage equipment. It takes a bit of imagination, but the inner courtyard, currently used as a parking space, will soon be used as a test track for autonomously driving cars. As soon as the permit arrives, there will also be drones taking off and landing here. At an adjacent port called Tempelhofer Hafen, The Drivery will even have access to a pier for boats.
In the long-term, The Drivery could accommodate between 1,000 and 1,500 members – depending on their needs and distribution. Only four weeks after they launched, The Drivery already had roughly 200 registered members. These members include freelancers and startups, but also large mobility corporations, each one of them invited to rent a space in the refurbished complex, whether it’s a flexible or fixed desk, an incubator or an entire development department. “The response we’ve got proves that an industry-specific marketplace for the development of modern mobility solutions was missing,” Rupp points out:
“We don’t see ourselves just as a co-working space, but more as a place where all aspects of new mobility converge. Of course, part of this involves entering into a dialogue with the political sphere, cultivating good relations with public transport companies and building up international networks.”
Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller was one of the first prominent visitors to The Drivery after it launched. For Rupp, who hails from southern Germany, Berlin is the ideal location to bring innovative mobility solutions to the streets: “From my perspective, you need three ingredients for success: smart and creative minds, a specific infrastructural challenge and thus a great desire for change and, finally, a close proximity to the political sphere.”
Take a look at this overview of the mobility innovators club The Drivery:
In order to bring those creative minds together, Rupp was willing to go out of his way and tread new paths: he actually bought a DeLorean, the car that doubles as a time machine in the Back to the Future trilogy. The plan in the coming two years is to have experts convert the car into an autonomous driving electric car as part of an open project. Rupp intends to take the DeLorean out for its first drive on Berlin’s prominent Ku’damm Boulevard. The investor behind Drivery is a large auto supplier, but in the long-term, the plan is to maneuver the hub into a position from which it is able to finance itself primarily by means of membership fees – which start at €50 per month for a flexible table – as well as by renting out of the complex as an event space.
“Anyone who’s working on mobility is welcome.”
When asked about the requirements to become a member, Rupp says: “Anyone who’s working on mobility is welcome.” Startups such as Tier (eScooters), Air2E (electric charter flights), AIPARK (real-time parking tickets) and LiangDao (test systems for autonomous driving) are among the first members and have already relocated their headquarters to the Ullsteinhaus.
“The Drivery is an ideal platform for us to establish contacts with other companies active in the mobility sector, and if the fit is right, to also work together,” says engineer Shengguang Lei, CTO of LiangDao
The chinese startup moved its twelve-person team from TechCode in Mitte to its new offices in Tempelhof. The company develops test systems for autonomous driving and is planning to grow strongly and hire more employees by the end of the year. And, of course, the flexibility offered by The Drivery is very much in tune with LiangDau’s expansion plans. Back at the Inception, Rupp talks about his next big vision. “When The Drivery really gets going in Berlin, I can imagine opening further market places in the whole world.”
This article was originally published in the Berlin to go "Berlin’s international nature" in July 2019.
Text: Christin Berges
Header image: The Drivery