Berlin should become more sustainable and digital – and as quickly as possible, if the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) has its way. The chamber has now presented three “business plans” that are intended to point the way to the future for administration, urban development and education. They were created by teams of experts who dealt with the city’s current problems in workshops.
Managers from very different companies in the capital were involved, from civil engineer Werner Pletz to the bicycle courier service Cycle Logistics to the start-up Biolab Innovation, which manufactures digital medical devices. They discussed with representatives from politics, administration, culture and society, including the Tagesspiegel editor-in-chief Lorenz Maroldt.
“We are all business people,” said IHK President Daniel-Jan Girl at the presentation of the results on Friday in the Ludwig Erhardt House in Charlottenburg. In addition to the companies, their employees and customers are also involved in the development of the capital.
Therefore, it is time to bring together ideas from different areas in order to find new solutions for the challenges of the present. Social prosperity must be thought of together with issues such as sustainability and crisis security: “We want to be the global economic metropolis of sustainable ideas and products.”
Politicians should not be limited to creating the framework for economic activity, said Girl, and called for “more trust in people’s creative powers”. The proposed solutions are intended to show what this could look like.
They were created in the format of business plans in order to be particularly practical. Therefore, they not only contain ideas, but also concrete information on available resources and suggestions for implementation.
In the “Pragmatic Urban Development” business plan, for example, the establishment of a “Temporary Use Agency” is proposed. This is intended to record and catalog vacancies in commercial real estate in order to make it easier to set up so-called pop-up stores. These are limited-time shop offers in shopping centers that are already being used in Bikini Berlin, among other places.
But in many other shopping miles shops are empty. To change that, four staff positions are to be set up. By mid-2024, they will set up an online platform that will bring owners and interested parties together. There will also be advice on implementation, legal issues and financing.
In the area of urban development, the sluggish digitization of administration is to be tackled, for example with building permits. The biggest grievances are “authority ping-pong” and a lack of staff, said Jan Eder, the IHK general manager.
That means: In the case of urgent problems, it is unclear which authority is responsible for them. Or there simply weren’t enough employees to do the processing. According to Eder, the solution to this should be a “flex force”, a higher-level body that shifts capacities to where they are needed. This should be based at the Senate Chancellery and set up with the support of the financial authorities.
The paper states: “The members of the Flex Force teams have management and administrative experience, are carefully selected for their professional competence and work transparently and agilely with the requesting bodies.”
A second paper deals with “Effective Education”. The needs analysis comes to a sobering conclusion: During school enrollment examinations, around 29 percent of the children were found to have language deficits, ten percent were overweight and up to 26 percent had difficulties with physical coordination.
“The figures make it clear that the prerequisites for a good start in education are laid in the early years,” write the authors.
One solution for this should be individual support before school starts – using digital technologies. For this purpose, the children are to be recorded in databases, of course in accordance with data protection regulations. Special software should then enable “targeted funding”, which is precisely documented.
There are already examples of this in Denmark, New Zealand and Australia. In the future, economic knowledge should also be taught in schools, because “basic economic education is a key to successful participation in modern society.”
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Pupils should have access to special teaching modules and be able to do more internships in companies. The latter are to be coordinated via a digital platform. Berlin’s economy is “the buyer of the education system,” said Jan Eder, and has a great interest in its success in view of the staff shortage and demographic development.
Daniel-Jan Girl emphasized the city’s responsibility for achieving global climate goals. In addition, cooperation between business and universities must be promoted in order to develop new technologies. “We must create knowledge in order to change realities.”