DAX and the Innovation Dilemma: When Deutsche Wohnen Replaces Lufthansa

Like many other companies in the transportation and travel industry, Germany’s flagship airline Lufthansa is struggling with the COVID 19 pandemic and the curfew and border closures that have been imposed. While the company was still doing well at the beginning of the year, it has turned into a restructuring case in just a few months (through no fault of its own). The collapsed stock market valuation forced the DAX to replace Lufthansa with another company, and this one is – Deutsche Wohnen.

Deutsche Wohnen is currently valued at €14.6 billion, while Lufthansa only managed €5.2 billion, half of what it was at the beginning of the year. Now Deutsche Wohnen is to be congratulated on its success, but nevertheless this swap leaves a stale feeling behind.

Inspirations from Overseas

If we put this exchange in context with other events of the past few days, the reason for the stale feeling becomes clear. For example, SpaceX became the first private company in space history to launch a rocket manned by astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken into space to the ISS space station. The rocket’s first stage landed safely on a landing platform floating in the Atlantic Ocean, as it had dozens of times before.

Just four days later, SpaceX sent another rocket into space, releasing dozens of satellites into Earth orbit for the StarLink program.

Certainly inspired by the success of SpaceX, the share price of another of Elon Musk’s companies, Tesla, rose. And for the first time, Tesla’s stock market valuation exceeded that of all German automakers combined. And this after Apple was already worth more than all 30 DAX companies together at the beginning of the year.

While our stock market risers are housing companies – and these are certainly important, no question – elsewhere technology and digital companies are inspiring people around the world. In a country that likes to tout itself as a technology leader and world export champion, it lags behind the development of these technologies and has trouble even accepting them, let alone adopting them.

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It is not just Germany that is struggling with this, all of Europe is falling behind here. Very few digital companies and inspiring technology firms have emerged in Europe in recent decades. The fact that the majority of newly founded European space companies sooner or later pitch their tents in the USA is causing headaches for ESA managers. Eighty percent of the companies listed on the DAX are more than 100 years old.

What can we do?

I’ve reflected on that many times here, and one factor is that we encourage startups and risk taking, not only through simplified processes, but also through a change in attitude among the public.

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COVID-19 stalled the global economy and killed hundreds of thousands of people in just a few weeks, while moving us further forward technologically and socially than years of talk about digital transformation and basic income could manage. If we don’t want this “good crisis to go to waste,” now is the chance to change our society to a fair one and our economy to a sustainable one. Using signals from different industries, technologies and society, the author looks at what will change and where policymakers and investors can take steps to seize this opportunity for a new normal.

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Perhaps the Corona crisis offers us the chance to seize and encourage many people to finally implement their own ideas and find fellow campaigners. Three months of home quarantine with plenty of time to think about our own goals will hopefully bring us a wave of founders. Nor is there a lack of money in rich Europe, it is rather a lack of understanding for risk investments that cannot initially be evaluated with traditional economic indicators.

And ultimately, we need an environment with customers who are not afraid to buy new, unproven technologies and work with the young companies to improve them. After all, risk aversion in saturated Europe runs through all levels.

Das Konjunkturpaket der deutschen Regierung selbst ist ein erster Anfang. Das Geld aus dem Hilfspaket in junge Unternehmen zu stecken und sie zu Innovationen zu ermutigen, wäre ein Ziel. Dass alte Technologien nicht mehr so einfach gefördert werden, hat die Ablehnung der Förderung von Verbrennungsfahrzeugen gezeigt.

Und das könnte das eigentliche Erbe der Corona-Krise werden, dass sie uns die Chance gab uns neu zu erfinden und uns und er Welt Innovation und Inspiration zu bringen.

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