GISEP (German Israeli Startup Exchange Program) ambassador Carsten Ovens, who is a Member of the Hamburg State Parliament, on the opportunities he sees in German-Israeli business exchange, and his own initiatives and role in the GISEP.
By Hanna Börgmann
Hanna: Carsten, you are a Member of the Hamburg State Parliament. Your main topics are the digital economy, science, and international relations. What is your connection with Israel?
Carsten: I first visited Israel in the context of a high school exchange trip. This visit made a long-lasting impression, and still impacts my work today. As a Member of Parliament, one of my missions is to build bridges between Hamburg and the Startup Nation Israel, as I see great potential in science and technology, and thus a great benefit for both economies.
Hanna: How does your current job relate to the GISEP and how do you see your role as a GISEP ambassador?
Carsten: Bringing together talents, ideas, passion, and venture capital is crucial for the success of a startup ecosystem. As a politician, this is what I want to achieve in Hamburg. The GISEP supports my work in an international context – innovation without borders, so to say. Therefore, serving as a GISEP ambassador is an honor, and at the same time a perfect door opener to connect people and institutions beyond my role as a Member of the Hamburg State Parliament.
Hanna: Recently, you initiated two Mobile Marketing Receptions in Tel Aviv to invite Israeli AdTech and Mobile Marketing startups to explore market opportunities in Germany. Can you briefly tell us how this opportunity came about?
Carsten: Startups from Israel are leading in technology. However, entering the German market is not easy. It takes not only experience, but also the right people and most importantly promising business leads. On the other side, the German advertisement and marketing industry is very successful when it comes to traditional media but is sometimes lacking behind in digital content and services. Therefore, the idea of the two GISEP Mobile Marketing Receptions was basically to bring together the best of both worlds: traditional marketing meets digital marketing.
Hanna: Next to the Mobile Marketing Receptions you also initiated B2B events on MedTech, Cyber, and Media with a special focus on Hamburg in the context of the GISEP. Where do you see the special potential for Israeli companies in Hamburg?
Carsten: Last year, I initiated these events together with the German Startup Association in the context of the GISEP as the local industry in Hamburg is quite strong in those areas. The most promising approach for success is to generate mutual benefits for all guests of a party. This is why we invited leading institutions from Hamburg, like Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, the Philips Health Innovation Port, and the next media accelerator, to discuss opportunities of collaboration with startups from Israel. Together, the “German Mittelstand”, the backbone of our economy, and startups from Israel can drive innovation even further and can truly change the game within their industries.
Hanna: As the last word, how would you label the Hamburg-Israeli economic relations in one single word?
The German Israeli Startup Exchange Program (GISEP) was initiated by the German Startups Association in 2016, and is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Check out the website here.
INSIDE ist das Magazin des Bundesverbandes Deutsche Startups e.V. (Startup-Verband). Der Startup-Verband ist Repräsentant und Stimme der Startups in Deutschland und engagiert sich für gründerfreundliche Rahmenbedingungen. Im Dialog mit Entscheidungsträgern in der Politik erarbeitet er Vorschläge, die eine Kultur der Selbstständigkeit fördern und die Hürden für Unternehmensgründungen senken. Der Startup-Verband wirbt für innovatives Unternehmertum und trägt die Startup-Mentalität in die Gesellschaft. Als Netzwerk verbindet er Gründer, Startups und deren Freunde miteinander.