Nico Lumma is one of these guys you want to give a hug to immediately. Big like a bear, distinct glasses, and red hair, calm voice and always smiling. You don’t get the idea he’s going to disrupt the way German media companies work on innovation.

As COO of Next Media Accelerator, an initiative in Hamburg, Germany, he’s a kind of coach helping start-ups lift the media industry to a higher level of the digital transformation.

Nico Lumma is at the forefront of disrupting the German media industry.
Nico Lumma is at the forefront of disrupting the German media industry.

The strangest thing is Next Media Accelerator is a baby of DPA.

For decades, the German news wire agency DPA was well-known for its excellence in providing news content from all over the world.

Hundreds of editors-in-chief benefit from the coverage of what is happening in big capitals like Washington, D.C., and London as well as in small towns like Bremen or Heidelberg. DPA was, and is, a traditional supplier to newsrooms of media companies.

Of course, this daily service costs money. Fewer and fewer media companies can afford DPA’s full service.

What DPA did differently from newswire agencies in other countries was all about enabling entrepreneurship on behalf of the entire media industry in Germany and beyond.

Lumma and his partners run Next Media Accelerator to bring people together who can benefit from each other. Media companies that have money but less sense or structure for innovation, and innovative entrepreneurs who need investors.

Next Media Accelerator is the place to be in Hamburg.

Next Media Accelerator is a win-win for legacy media companies and start-up entrepreneurs.
Next Media Accelerator is a win-win for legacy media companies and start-up entrepreneurs.

Big players of the German media industry paid about US$200,000 each to fund a programme supporting media ideas by young entrepreneurs from all over the world. The deal is you get US$50,000 for 10% of your company to get over the crucial first six months of your start-up.

A group around Lumma makes decisions about the applications and short-term investment calls. He calls that “innovation as a service.”

Anytime those working in media companies can see what is going on in the business and what the impact on their own daily business could be, “it’s cheaper and even faster to start common projects in this programme than to plan a project management within the huge organisation of a media company,“ Lumma said in an recent interview with Mediapreneure.

Journalists, too, are invited to apply. The only hurdle could be that the daily language is English.

“Nine out of 10 ideas could fail,” Lumma adds, but that would be also part of a learning curve and the best way to avoid even higher costs. The media companies, some of them competitors, share the benefits as well as the downturns.

Content, advertising, technology, and services — there’s no part of a media organisation that isn’t affected by what these start-ups challenge.