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Germany Trade & Invest CEO Dr. Juergen Friedrich sat down with "markets Germany" to outline the latest developments in the agency’s ongoing international marketing campaign.

Dr. Juergen Friedrich | © GTAI Dr. Friedrich, GTAI’s ‘smart’ international campaign is now entering its third phase. How successful has the campaign been in terms of meeting its objectives?

The campaign to date has been a resounding success. Post-campaign phase market research shows a meaningful increase in overall and individual thematic area perceptions of Germany. Without wanting to bombard you with too many numbers, we’ve seen a positive increase in the 10 to 20 percent range in terms of awareness and perception of Germany as an investment and innovation location. For example, almost 70 percent of those questioned consider Germany to be a pioneer in smart technologies and solutions – the key message of our campaign in its early stages. Ninety percent of those surveyed consider Germany to be the world leader in matters industry and production related. A further 80 percent identify Germany as the world’s leading ICT nation. Moreover, we also saw an almost 50 percent increase in terms of willingness to invest in Germany. So I think these figures provide a good barometer of just how effective the measures deployed to date have been.

Dr. Friedrich, in the previous campaign phases the message being promoted was ‘GERMANY. SMART SOLUTIONS. SMARTER BUSINESS.’ In this latest stage of the campaign, the focus has switched to ‘GERMANY. SMART-UP YOUR BUSINESS.’ What is the thinking behind this move?

In the initial stages of the campaign our aim was to firmly establish Germany as the ‘smart solution’ for ‘smarter business’ – both in Europe and beyond. By this is meant that not only are international companies well served by operating in Germany, but also that German-developed technologies and innovations are providing innovative answers to the challenges of the day – right across the globe. This latest campaign stage sees us directly addressing an international audience to highlight the optimal business and technology conditions specifically available to small and medium-sized enterprises.

What form will the new message take?

Well, in this new phase it is our intention to make ‘Germany’ synonymous with ‘smart-up’ business in much the same way that, for example, Silicon Valley in the USA has become a by-word for tech start-ups. International small and medium-sized companies are welcome to ‘smart-up’ their business in one of the world’s most SME-friendly climates.

But just how SME-friendly is Germany?

Funding and policy activities like the ‘Central Innovation Programme for SMEs’ and the ‘Initiative of the Federal Government for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises’ (which has identified seven policy areas of key import to SMEs), help create an environment in which SMEs are able to thrive. That SMEs do thrive in Germany is not in question: European Commission research confirms Germany’s SME sector as one of the fastest-expanding in the EU. More importantly, SME performance in terms of innovation and high-tech manufacturing and production is above the EU average. Germany also enjoys more favorable conditions than its European neighbors in terms of cost and time requirements for SMEs to participate in international trade. I could go on… How long have you got? (laughs)

Much is made of Germany’s unique ‘Mittelstand’ [SME business sector] culture. Is this a factor in the country’s strong SME showing?

Of this I’m convinced. The country’s overall strong economic performance, excellent foreign trade balance and technological leadership all have their roots firmly in the ‘Mittelstand’ culture. In recent times the ‘German Mittelstand’ has gained a global recognition as a business model for economic growth and technological development. Why is this? Because it works. Just to give you an idea: ‘German Mittelstand’ global turnover stood at over EUR 186 billion in 2010, with the SME sector contributing almost 52 percent of value added to the domestic economy. These are impressive results in anyone’s book.

Why should SMEs choose Germany as an investment or technology location?

For the reasons I’ve just pointed out: Germany’s SME sector is an international model for economic growth and innovation. Germany is home to the best-performing SME sector in Europe in terms of jobs created, value-add, and degree of innovativeness. Conditions within the country are also more conducive to SME business activity than elsewhere within the European Union. It’s not by accident that thousands of German SMEs have become world leaders in a number of important and innovative industry sectors and niche markets. The ‘Mittelstand’ business culture is without question a contributing factor, but fundamental framework policy and funding options provide the stage if you will for this continued success.

As part of the new campaign, GTAI will continue to exclusively co-brand the ‘Marketplace Europe’ prime time programming segment within ‘Quest Means Business’ [hosted by Richard Quest]. GTAI-branded banner advertising will also be present on all CNN International online platforms for the remainder of the campaign. What was the reasoning behind this decision?

CNN International has provided and continues to provide us with an excellent platform for informing international investors about the considerable advantages of doing business in and with Germany. To go back to my very first answer, the partnership has proven particularly successful in terms of positioning Germany as the home of ‘smart solutions.’ This latest stage of the campaign allows us to throw more light on the country’s unparalleled SME-friendly conditions and its unique position as the best location for international SMES to ‘smart-up’ their business.

Dr. Friedrich, Thank you for your time.

Thank you.

Related Links:

Central Innovation Programme for SMEs
Building on SMEs: greater responsibility, greater freedom

Website of the "GERMANY. START-UP YOUR BUSINESS:" Campaign


Markets Germany - Issue 03/2017 | © GTAI

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