Hamburg is a freeport of innovative ideas

Hamburg is a freeport of innovative ideas

The German city can help resolve some of the challenges faced by India's developing economy, says the Managing Director of the region's leading investment promotion agencies.

Hamburg is more diversified than many other large cities and at the same time highly specialised. The city, located along the River Elbe, is a leading technology centre in the following key areas - materials and processes, mobility, transport and logistics, energy, climate, environmental protection and marine technology, healthcare, applied life sciences and nutrition as well as the cross-sectoral field of digitisation.

The Hamburg Metropolitan Region provides unique collaboration opportunities with a strong economy, highly diverse range of industries as well as excellent scientific institutions and relevant application and transfer initiatives. From basic research and test fields to market launch: Hamburg can provide professional partners for almost every step in the innovation process.

With that approach, Hamburg is ahead of the game when it comes to leveraging new technological opportunities. Research and innovation (R&I) parks tend to provide the ideal breeding ground for tomorrow′s world market leaders. Based on a research-oriented approach, these parks offer commercial spaces for innovative companies, research facilities and new entrepreneurs.

The current planning agenda includes the development of three R&I parks in Hamburg in the areas of life sciences, laser technology, and green technologies. A fourth R&I park has already been established - the ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research. DESY, one of the world's leading accelerator centres, has a great collaboration with India in photon science since 2009 and currently, Airbus is the biggest employer for Indians in Hamburg.

Hamburg is also extremely fond of its vibrant start-up scene. Economic clusters, academia, as well as public and private initiatives are always there to support young entrepreneurs from all over the world through projects, events, and direct investments.

The mix of economic potential and a high quality of life makes Hamburg the powerful heart of northern Europe. People and companies from around the world settle here. Whether a start-up, industrial player, or service provider. The Hanseatic city has always been characterised by its entrepreneurial spirit and its ties to the world. Open-mindedness and courage are part of its DNA. Tradition meets modernity, research and science meet start-ups and global corporations while capital and entrepreneurship hit on unique ideas.

Hamburg and India - A strong and collaborative relationship

As Hamburg and India have been linked by trade for centuries, more than 50 Indian companies have set up their base in Hamburg. Indian steel magnate Laxmi Mittal acquired Hamburg steelworks. Additionally, Tata Consultancy Services and numerous leading companies like Gujarat Fluorochemicals (part of the INOX Group), L&T Technologies Services, Fermenta Biotech, Thrymr Software or technology start-ups like Neewee, Foviatech and Solverminds Solutions & Technologies have an office in Hamburg.

Furthermore, 548 Hamburg companies are currently involved in foreign trade with India. Almost half of them are engaged in the export business, the other half purchase goods from India. 136 Hamburg companies maintain a representative office, holdings or production facilities in India, e.g. Biesterfeld International, Eppendorf India Helm India Pvt. Lt, Evotec, Thane, and Illies Engineering. In Hamburg, a whole range of players in networks and institutions such as the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, Hamburg Invest or the Hamburg Ministry of Economics, Transport and Innovation maintain the economic dialogue with India.

Further, the Hamburg-based German Asia-Pacific Business Association (OAV), German Indian Round Table (GIRT) promote the development of relations with the Indian economy. There is a Consulate General of India in Hamburg and we also have appointed our Hamburg Ambassador in India.

The India Week Hamburg, taking place since 2005, has been a huge success in fostering the growing relations between Hamburg and India. The purpose of the event is to display the multiple ties between Hamburg and India, strengthen existing partnerships and create new opportunities for cooperation. In 2019, the programme comprised more than 75 events. Under the International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme, the European Union project facilitates cooperation on smart cities' use of digital planning tools between the cities of Hamburg, Germany and Vijayawada in India. Both cities delegation exchanged visits in 2019. Although India′s economy is growing, there are also some challenges that can be solved through cooperation between India and Germany.

Aviation, infrastructure, software technology offerings & applications, healthcare, maritime transport, ports, shipping and renewable energy are areas that offer tremendous potential for developing India-Germany relations in general, and India and Hamburg in particular. There is still huge potential for collaboration on new and emerging areas between India and Hamburg.

Dr Rolf Strittmatter is the Managing Director of Hamburg Invest.

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