Ottobock revitalises the Bötzow Quarter
Medical technology company creates space for ideas in Berlin
In the run-up to its 100th anniversary in 2019, Ottobock, the global medtech company, is systematically expanding its presence in Berlin. The goal is to advance future areas of significance such as digitisation in orthopaedic technology and recruit the respective talent and creative thinkers for the family-run business.
After the Human Mobility business unit and strategic units such as Digital Marketing and Corporate Communications, the researchers and developers of the Ottobock Future Lab are now also moving into their spaces for ideas in the listed complex of the former Bötzow brewery in the Prenzlauer Berg district.
Proud of the roots in Berlin
“As appropriate for a real Berlin start-up, we are still redefining ourselves even nearly 100 years after the company was founded in Berlin Kreuzberg,” says Hans Georg Näder, chairman of the board representing the owners and third generation of the founding family, who in three decades led the German-based global market leader to its current size. The orthopaedic mechanic Otto Bock founded Orthopädische Industrie GmbH in Kreuzberg in 1919 to provide disabled war veterans with modern prostheses and orthopaedic devices.
Professor Hans Georg Näder acquired the listed Bötzow complex in 2012 and since then has developed it with British architect Sir David Chipperfield based on a master plan. The focus is on the responsible interaction of cultural and commercial use: In addition to housing, co-working and cultural spaces, a beer garden and a boutique hotel are also included – a fascinating new scene neighbourhood in the heart of Berlin.
Office 4.0: Collaboration and hot desking
More than 120 employees of Ottobock and its Fab Lab cooperation partner Makea Industries will work in the Future Lab on Prenzlauer Allee in the future. The two companies opened the Open Innovation Space (OIS) in a tent structure back in 2015. This sparked a great deal of attention and interest throughout Germany. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier chose the OIS as one of the sites for his first official visit to Berlin in October 2017.
“Now we are permanently moving into premises at Bötzow,” states Näder. “And we are working together there in a modern, collaborative way. There are no longer assigned workplaces. This generates spillover among the departments, closely linked with our tech hubs in Duderstadt and Vienna.” But Bötzow is not just an important pillar for Ottobock, it is also a new attraction in Prenzlauer Berg. “We want to make the area into a real Berlin scene neighbourhood, with public restaurants and a beer garden. That will be the next phase of construction.”
Company’s own think tank at Potsdamer Platz
“This changes the role of the Ottobock Science Center, opened in 2009 at Potsdamer Platz as the company’s representation in the capital and stage for biomechanics. A million visitors have made it a real highlight and benchmark,” adds Professor Näder. The medical technology company is currently planning to open its own think tank there. “We frequently observe that our employees have great ideas that enable us to improve and develop our business in the long term,” says CEO Dr Oliver Scheel. “In the future, we want to tap this potential even more in Berlin, enhancing the company’s flexibility.”
At Potsdamer Platz, interdisciplinary teams from many different Ottobock sites will come together to move forward on implementing the ambitious digital strategy. “Away from the typical structures, they will have space to develop unconventional innovations and challenge firmly entrenched processes,” says Scheel.
The name Ottobock stands for high-quality, technologically outstanding products and services in medical technology all over the world. Ottobock, the German-based global market leader, develops medical technology products and treatment concepts for individuals with limited mobility in the Prosthetics, Orthotics and Human Mobility business units and provides treatment to patients in the MedicalCare unit. The company’s international activities are coordinated in its headquarters in Duderstadt. Subsidiaries in more than 57 countries offer quality “Made in Germany” around the world and employ more than 7,000 people. Ottobock has been a family-run business since it was founded in 1919 and has also supported the Paralympic Games with its technical expertise since 1988.