Written by 8:59 Financial Centre, FinTech, Sustainable Finance

Impact Festival in Offenbach

International, innovative and sustainable: anyone who strolled through the wide halls of the Fredenhagen grounds last week was able to talk to numerous people at the various stands during the two-day Impact Festival, Europe’s largest B2B trade fair for sustainable innovations.

Personen sitzen auf weißen Stühlen in einem Innenraum und hören einen Vortrag. Das Foto zeigt das Publikum von hinten und die Bühne von vorne.

They represented companies with solutions for the most pressing problems of our time, had ideas and were looking for partners or financing. “Leave an Impact”, this applied to exhibitors and visitors alike. For the second time, the Impact Festival had invited start-ups and innovative companies to Offenbach and offered space for contacts, exchange beyond the stands and different lectures and panels. More than 250 companies came. For the first time, the teams of the Economic Development Agency with Maria Kamara and Tarek Mazrouh and the Gründerstadt Offenbach with Elisabeth Neumann, Aniki Radde and Dirk Luenzer were also represented with a stand. The latter has been looking after people with convincing start-up ideas since the beginning of the 2000s and helps them develop and grow with different formats and funding approaches.

“Offenbach is a great location for young, innovative ideas. The Impact Festival is a good fit for our city, and we also offer opportunities to young start-ups in particular, for example in the search for suitable premises,” explains Mazrouh. After just under two days of the festival, he has already held countless talks and informed interested parties about what funding opportunities are available and what is being done for businesses in Offenbach. Founders like Britta Zubrod-Nikisch fit the bill. The physiotherapist opened a zero-waste shop in the Senefelder Quartier in spring with the support of the Ground Floor funding programme. “We didn’t want to always have to travel to Hanau or Frankfurt,” says the founder, whose concept met with open ears and who felt well advised and supported by the economic development agency throughout the entire process. Many visitors confirm that she is an important avant-garde with her unpackaged shop.

“Important topics are discussed at the Impact Festival,” says economic development and innovation officer Kamara, “and you quickly get talking. This is also due to the stands, which are filled with airy buildings and decorated with lots of greenery, but the two did not have much time for a tour of the grounds.

The two halls of the former Fredenhagen boiler factory are loosely connected in an L-shape by a third with a stage and space for around 100 people. At the stands, the friendly “Du” predominates, if English is not spoken immediately anyway. The organisers have divided the festival into seven innovation areas: resource efficiency (“Resource Efficiency”), digitalisation (“Sustainable Finance & Data” and “Sustainable & Regulatory Services”), mobility (“Future Mobility & Cities”), ecology (“Agriculture Technology & Food Innovation” and “Clean Technology”), and mostly sustainable and smart solutions for the planet (“Education & Entrepreneurship”).

“We sell green chemistry”, explains Christian Römlein from Leipzig almost provocatively about his solvent-free solutions, which immediately puts him on speaking terms with Mazrouh. After all, Offenbach was once an important location for the chemical industry and there was a lot of manufacturing industry in the city. “Hardly anyone wants to go back to those times, at least in terms of the ecological aspect, so products like these are all the more exciting. There are ideas for cleaning the oceans, plastic avoidance and/or recycling, start-ups with apps for sustainable shopping, safe lending and borrowing, investment offers for water and clean technologies – and all this is extremely important. Because the best way to tackle climate change would undoubtedly be technological revolutions. This requires a great openness to technology, clever researchers and courageous entrepreneurs. Then there is even a chance to achieve gains in prosperity. That is why we are pleased that such an important festival is taking place in Offenbach,” explains Lord Mayor Dr Felix Schwenke, explaining why the Economic Development Agency was commissioned to be active at the festival.

Rethinking the world – let’s go Offenbach

The location could hardly be better chosen. After all, the industrial wasteland of Fredenhagen has become a hip event venue and the city of Offenbach is also in the process of repositioning itself as an attractive place to live and work after years of structural change. “The Impact Festival is an important building block that brings the topics of sustainability and responsibility into focus and at the same time increases the visibility of Offenbach as a location,” summarises Lord Mayor Schwenke. “The organisers were able to welcome over 2,500 guests who encountered more than 170 exhibitors and over 100 top-class speakers – this not only proves the relevance of the topic, but also that Offenbach is undoubtedly the right venue. We are not only considered a city of short distances, but are also currently setting new accents with creative forges such as the University of Design and the development of the Innovation Campus”. Bozica Niermann, head of the Offenbach Economic Development Agency, also confirms this: “For us, this was a great opportunity to showcase our city and what we have to offer to companies and start-ups. The challenges we face are enormous, but we as a city are also constantly working to become better in terms of sustainability. This includes a stronger dovetailing with environmental issues, after all, economy is hardly conceivable today without ecology.”

That is why Offenbach, for example, already adopted a Climate Protection Concept 2035 in 2020 and is a member of the Climate Alliance, which bundles initiatives, institutions and their goals under one roof and jointly advances the goals of climate protection and climate adaptation. “All this shows: We have understood,” says Schwenke, “and, as the Impact Festival shows, we are not alone with our approaches and ideas.”

This is an automated translation of the German press release.
Source: Press release of the City of Offenbach, 12 October 2022.

Cover photo: Impressions of the Impact Festival on the Fredenhagen grounds, photos: City of Offenbach


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