Structural change can have many faces. It might come rather slowly as a consequence of shifts in a region’s major industry and emerging new technologies. Or it might be more rapid and unexpected, for instance in the aftermath of historic events.
Thirty years after German reunification, many regions in eastern Germany are still undergoing structural change. The economy in the West is also changing, for a variety of reasons – Including digitalization, Germany’s own transition to clean energy, and global business trends. Many eastern and western German states have taken ‘ownership’ of these disruptions and turned them into opportunities to change for the better.
Investors from Germany and around the world are discovering lucrative business opportunities in this structural change. And Germany has many inspiring success stories. In this special edition, we share one from each of the 16 German federal states. For instance, how chemicals and bioplastics have taken over from coal mining in Brandenburg, how a huge green hydrogen plant will transform the Heide region in Schleswig-Holstein, and how the city of Ilmenau in Thuringia transitions from traditional industry to a high-tech economy. All the case studies have one thing in common: The chances of success are greatly increased when investors and other local players collaborate to make progress and effect change.
Project financing incentives are available to all investors and are provided by the German government, the federal states, and the E.U. to support business growth. Germany Trade & Invest advises large companies (turnover €50m+) and SMEs.
The automotive metropolis of Stuttgart is spearheading a shift from gasoline and diesel toward electricity and hydrogen. Companies from the field of e-mobility can capitalize on the restructuring that is taking place in Baden-Württemberg, for example as suppliers to car makers.
Like many regions, northern Bavaria faced challenging changes after German reunification. However, the traditional ceramics industry survived by playing to its strengths and is now attracting investors from America and Japan.
For decades, Berlin was not seen as an important industrial location. But in recent years, start-ups have been transforming the city, and 3D printing technology has become a major driver of change. These innovative companies are looking for international cooperation and finance.
The phase-out of coal mining in Brandenburg has pushed the chemical and plastics industries to the fore. Around 600 companies are active in this sector in the eastern German state, and are pushing growth. A number are based in Schwarzheide.
Everyone wants a place in space: Telecommunications companies are lining up to fire satellites into space in order to guarantee their customers better Internet supply. Many of the rockets are made in Bremen by the ArianeGroup.
The city of Bremen is reinventing its port on the Weser river with the largest construction project in Europe. Construction companies, developers and other companies are invited to reshape the future of the northern German city.
The area around the town of Anklam in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is traditionally agricultural. Now, healthcare companies from Germany and abroad are discovering the benefits of the northern German location.
For a long time, the region around the city of Walsrode in the federal state of Niedersachsen struggled with structural challenges. But in recent years, the region once reliant on chemical firms has evolved into an efficient e-commerce logistics location.
Essen in North Rhine-Westphalia was once the epicenter of the coal and steel industries in Germany. Today, the Ruhr region is powering Germany’s energy revolution, and Essen’s green energy cluster has become a hotspot for innovative energy solutions.
The economy of Kaiserslautern, a former military base, slumped after the withdrawal of American and French troops in the nineties. However, the region in Rheinland-Pfalz has reinvented itself as an attractive location for information technology and science.
The death of the coal industry dealt Saarland a hammer blow. But then the region around the city of Saarbrücken remembered its strengths – its proximity to France and its broad research landscape in computer science.
For a long time, the city of Görlitz, on the border with Poland, suffered from the decline of the coal industry. But the Saxon city is being regenerated as a tourist location and is now positioning itself as an attractive real estate location with several advantages for investors and international companies.
The future looked bleak for Halberstadt in the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt – a city dependent on a dying industry. Then it became one of eastern Germany’s “model cities for reconstruction” and developed into a hub for medical technology.
Germany’s largest green hydrogen plant is to be built on the windy west coast of Schleswig-Holstein. State development initiatives are driving structural change around Germany’s Energy Transition program, and companies will find plenty of investment opportunities and support funding.
Ilmenau in Thuringia has successfully made the transition from traditional industry during the GDR era to a prime, modern location for technology. Companies can find large industrial sites for development and a strong local science network.
Bavaria boasts a unique identity developed over 1,500 years, a span of time that witnessed the growth of both traditional agricultural wealth and world-class manufacturing and service industries. Hence the slogan: "Laptop and Lederhose."
Come to Berlin and you'll feel it, too: energy. Over the last two decades, Germany's capital city has become the gateway between East and West as well as one of the world's most vibrant, creative, and innovative locations.
The Federal State of Brandenburg has developed into a modern, high-quality location and into a driver of economic activity in the German Capital Region Berlin-Brandenburg. Its central position in the continent ensures that all the growing markets in Europe are only a one-day truck drive away.
The over 1200 year old Hanseatic city of Bremen and Bremerhaven form today the Federal State of Bremen. Shipping, trade and industry, logistics, science and research – the two-city state presents itself in Northwestern Germany as a future-oriented hub with an export quota of 56 percent.
Investors are convinced: 95 percent of foreign companies would again opt for Hessen. The economic region in the heart of Germany intersects with Europe's major transport routes and provides international investors with ideal conditions for sustainable growth.
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (MV) is often called the "state of a thousand lakes," but the nickname is only half correct. The state actually has over 2,000 lakes, which – in addition to countless nature reserves, castles, stunning Hanseatic coastline towns with white cliffs and beaches, and excellent ferry facilities – make tourism the state's main industry.
Niedersachsen is Germany’s second-largest state, stretching from the Harz Mountains in the east to the North Sea in the west. Its size and location put it right in the center of the major trans-European trade routes.
The state offers excellent infrastructure, from international airports to a high-speed rail network on which you can pass from coal-mining and steel-production areas to others dense with bio-chemical and high-tech companies. Cities such as Aachen, Cologne, and Düsseldorf combine historical interest with avant-garde cultural offerings.
Thanks to its central location in the heart of Europe and the proximity of the neighboring countries France, Luxembourg and Belgium, Rheinland-Pfalz has become established as an internationally successful, future-oriented business location.
Once famous for its vast mining industries, Saarland is quickly becoming more associated with the young technology and IT companies- which makes the state’s focus on innovation a reality worth bragging about.
Saxony is the birthplace of German industrialization, and long-standing traditional industries – such as machine construction and automotive manufacturing – continue to flourish there. Saxony is also home to the well-known architectural and cultural offerings of Dresden, Freiberg, and Leipzig.
Saxony-Anhalt is the state with the right mix: it is both an impressive industrial location and a great place to call home. Mountains crisscrossed by hiking paths roll into plains where wind farms stretch across the horizon.
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