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08. January 2020

How do you manage a co-working space?

In conversation with Marina Salmon, who in addition to WISTA’s co-working space is also in charge of the Long Night of the Sciences and the science slams in Adlershof

Marina Salmon is as determined as the lion she painted in her spare time © WISTA Management GmbH

Marina Salmon runs the show at the WISTA’s co-working space at Rudower Chaussee 17. When the Technology Park’s first-ever co-working space was founded in November 2017, the business economist also ventured into new territory. How do you manage such a place, she asked herself? Much of it turned out to be learning by doing. Looking back after two years, she and her co-worker Ralph Langanke have taken care of 50 start-ups, 20 individuals, and 14 founding teams. One can tell by the way she enthuses about her tenants, who she is always ready to lend an ear to, how much passion she gives to the project. She also has a clear knack for organisational tasks, which she has proven as head organiser of the ‘Long Night of the Sciences’ and ‘Battle den Horst’, Adlershof’s popular science slam event. To recharge her high-power batteries, she likes to retreat to her allotment garden. Now and again, her co-workers are lucky enough to enjoy a small sample of the harvest.

Is there a typical Adlershof co-worker?

It’s hard to make generalisations. The range goes from students, to 70-year-old professors, to founders of multiple companies.

Still, please try to give us a characterisation…

Somebody with a business idea in technology or the natural sciences, ready to leap into business, about 25-years-old on average, curious, hungry for knowledge, and fascinated by the Technology Park Adlershof and its opportunities for cooperation. Only a small portion of our users are creatives and freelancers.

Can you give us some examples?

Off the top of my head, I can think of Tino Jacobi and Leonardo Lauer from Think3DDD, who are specialists for orthoses. They both initially took part in the German junior science competition ‘Jugend Forscht’ and now develop 3D-printed cuffs for the treatment of arthritis, bone fractures, and such in humans and animals. Or Patrick Herholz, who studied computer science at the Adlershof campus of Humboldt-Universität. He co-founded the company Easy Memory Item and developed a pilot training app that helps to make their training more efficient and is already being successfully used in Asia.

What do your tenants value the most?

Having a permanent workplace is the most important thing to most tenants. But they also value the all-round package that we offer. This includes office equipment, workshops on business-founding issues, and having lunches together. Our most valuable asset is the exchange among co-workers. Everybody helps each other and no one is excluded. There is a sense of cooperation, not competition.

How many tenants do you currently have?

We have currently let out 25 out of 42 available desks. Most of our tenants are from the Treptow-Köpenick district.

How long do co-workers tend to stay? How much is a desk?

Co-workers tend to stay between eight and ten months. We also offer daily desks. The costs for rent start at 200 euros per month for a flexible desk. A day ticket is 25 euros.

More co-working spaces are planned all over the Science City Adlershof, including at the ‘Future Living’ project and the office complex ‘Brain Box Berlin’. Do you view them as supporters or competitors?

We are already talking to other co-working providers about future cooperation. For instance, we don’t have much space for our tenants to set up machines and other hardware. On the other hand, we are great at networking because we know our Technology Park’s researchers and entrepreneurs very well. For these reasons, I am optimistic that there will be demand in the future.

How did you first come to Adlershof?

My parents live in the neighbourhood, I grew up here. As a school kid, I went to artistic gymnastics classes at a gym right here on Rudower Chaussee. I also knew the old medical centre, which is now the Technology Centre for IT and Media. Having said that, I think I consciously visited this side of the Adlergestell in 2001, when I first applied as a trainee at WISTA Management GmbH.

When did you last try something new?

My sister convinced me to go to ArtNight with her, a two-to-three-hour event where people create a work of art together with a real artist who guides you through it step-by-step. Thank god, no prior skills were required because drawing is not my biggest strength. We had a lot of fun though and I was quite happy with the results.

What do you do in your spare time?

My husband and I have an allotment garden, where I plant things, clear weeds, and pick fruit and vegetables. I also preserve any tomatoes, beans, chili peppers, plums, or currents that I don’t have straight away. My mother, my sister and I do family fitness once a week under the guidance of my brother-in-law, who is a personal trainer. Other than that, I go running regularly, read a lot, and listen to music.

Interview by Sylvia Nitschke for Adlershof Journal