The port faces various challenges ranging from competitiveness and environmental concerns to growing demands for innovative port management practices. In order to meet these challenges and to promote product innovation made in Hamburg, a free space to try out innovative and hardware-heavy products under real conditions is needed. Transformative co-design with participation of citizens, ambitious port actors, science, and start-ups is key. homePORT comes to meet these requirements by designating and providing for test areas, “makerspace”, and an overarching community in the heart of the port to serve as a maritime real laboratory.

With homePORT, the port of the future is to be discussed, designed, and developed together with port stakeholders, start-ups, and research institutions. In this way answers to questions about the end of the container age are to be found, alternative utilization concepts are to be considered, acceptance issues with regard to autonomous systems on land, water, and air are to be evaluated, and approaches for a circular economy in the sense of a zero-emission approach are to be simulated in order to develop sustainable concepts including ecological goals.

The platform, including the community with networking opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and workshops as well as areas for testing under real conditions, has been up and running in the port since mid-December 2020. In addition, the plans for establishing a container innovation campus have been completed and will be implemented in the coming months. Cooperation with the Helmut Schmidt University providing mechanical engineering expertise will ensure that the “makerspace” will be operational from the middle of 2021.

The Port of Hamburg is further working on establishing strategic partnerships on local, national, and international level that are necessary to develop the concept further, share knowledge, and learn from one other.