Business sector invests in Hamburg despite Covid

Hamburg Invest presents annual results: expansion and relocation projects mainly from Hamburg companies / small and medium-sized enterprises continue to be hesitant

Business sector invests in Hamburg despite Covid

A total of 9,168 jobs created and secured, 1,058 companies serviced, and an investment volume of approx. EUR 752 million: these are the key figures of Hamburg Invest for the year 2021. Hamburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Michael Westhagemann, stated: "Following positive signals from the labour market, the results of Hamburg Invest also confirm that the pandemic hasn’t had a lasting effect on Hamburg’s economy yet. With its 2021 results, Hamburg Invest managed to replicate the successful development experienced in pre-pandemic times. The economic and fiscal effects on the municipality are excellent. The work of Hamburg Invest strengthens Hamburg as a business location in a long-term, sustainable manner. Each euro invested in business development is paying off." And Hamburg Invest’s Managing Director, Dr Rolf Strittmatter, commented: "Due to the pandemic, our advisory services have been in great demand, whereas planned projects have tended to be postponed to a future date. This is particularly true for smaller, local expansion projects and, due to travel restrictions, for international relocation projects, especially from overseas. Large-scale projects, however, continue to be realised in Hamburg."

The results in figures

In spite of the ongoing pandemic, the results achieved are very satisfactory. In 2021, consulting services were in even higher demand than in 2020. While the total number of projects has declined, successful projects tended to be larger. Of the 969 consultations provided, 336 pertained to non-Hamburg-based companies, and of these, 158 pertained to international companies. 633 consultations provided have taken place with Hamburg-based clients.

Consulting   866  969
Projects   125    89
of which Relocation    59    47
of which Expansion    60    36
in the Metropolitan Region      6     6
Total   9911,058

The number of new jobs created was higher than it was in the previous year.

Jobs created2,1882,545
Jobs secured7,3166,623

*excluding Hamburg Metropolitan Region

Thanks to large-scale real estate projects, the total volume of investments has increased significantly. 

in million EUR*  588  752

*excluding Hamburg Metropolitan Region

In 2021, Hamburg Invest's activities once again had a clear focus on innovation, digitisation and sustainability. The majority of companies supported by Hamburg Invest were innovative SMEs as well as startups.


The number of expansion projects by Hamburg businesses went down from 60 to 36. However, larger projects have not been affected by this trend. Thus, the total number of jobs secured and jobs created was only slightly below the level of the preceding year. As regards small and medium-sized enterprises, there was a general reluctance to invest. Instead, many SMEs made use of the advisory services offered by Hamburg Invest.

In the course of 2021, Hamburg Invest supplied companies with a total of 17.8 hectares of commercial space (i.e. land designated for commercial/industrial usage). Of this, 6 hectares were privately owned and 11.8 hectares were owned by the City of Hamburg. With a total area of 5.3 hectares, 9 municipal sites were properties of Hamburg Invest Entwicklungsgesellschaft (HIE). Since its foundation in May 2018, HIE has brokered a total of 38.8 hectares of land across 39 different projects. Of this, 61.6% of land was sold on a leasehold basis, and this trend continues further. In 2021, as much as 82.9% of land was provided on a leasehold basis. In addition, 134,000 m2 of gross floor space was brokered in 2021, which was owned by the municipality and the private sector in roughly equal parts.


Due to the ongoing Covid crisis, many travel activities, trade fair attendances, roadshows with seminars as well as presentations and individual meetings scheduled for 2021 could not take place as intended. As in 2020, some of the events were cancelled altogether. As a result, associated delegation trips to Hamburg by international investors did not take place either. However, by taking part in, and hosting, hybrid and digital formats for different target groups in different source markets and regions, new contacts have been established in spite of this.

As further mutations of the virus have emerged and stakeholders tend to be reluctant when it comes to engaging in travel (especially to overseas destinations) as well as non-virtual events, the international investment sector in particular continues to face major challenges. Against this backdrop, HIW will be scaling up activities in neighbouring countries in 2022. “We are glad that the number of relocations in Hamburg has only decreased from 59 to 47,” said Dr Rolf Strittmatter, Hamburg Invest’s Managing Director.

Hamburg Metropolitan Region

Hamburg Invest considers the Hamburg Metropolitan Region as a coherent economic area. Companies that are unable to find a suitable property in the municipality of Hamburg are actively supported in settling within the Hamburg Metropolitan Region so Northern Germany’s economic strength can be retained. On average, this scenario applies to six companies per year. However, the migration of companies in Northern Germany works both ways: in 2021, seven companies from the Hamburg Metropolitan Region were supported in their search for a location in Hamburg. Arguably the most popular example here is AstraZeneca. The Swedish-British pharmaceutical company (one of the world’s largest) and global player was supported by Hamburg Invest in its search for a new company location. Due to growing capacity demands and a continued, sustainable need for additional personnel, it became necessary for the company to relocate to Hamburg. Hamburg Invest introduced the client to the local administrative and political structures, established links with the relevant industry networks and supported the company regarding any issues along the way. Thus it was possible to keep the company including its several hundred highly qualified employees in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.

Growth: selected company profiles

Amptec is a leading contract manufacturer and developer of mRNA and thus a vital supplier in the areas of diagnostics and therapeutic mRNA production. Due to high demand pressure, the company needed to expand its lab capacities in Hamburg at short notice. Following extensive site search, brokerage and support services by Hamburg Invest, a suitable location in the district of Altona was secured within a short time frame.

Berenberg Bank
Berenberg is a long-established Hamburg-based private bank. In the medium term, it aims to relocate its central administrative head office from the current location on the Inner Alster Lake to a new site in Hamburg. In dialogue with the client, various public land options were thus reviewed. As Berenberg would only consider purchase, offers by private owners were also included in the search. With the help of Hamburg Invest, an attractive development site was finally acquired in City Nord, where the company now intends to build a new administrative head office by 2025.

Am Diebsteich industrial yard
Following several private commercial yard developments realised throughout 2020 on sites provided by Hamburg Invest, the development of the industrial yard at Am Diebsteich 13 has now been contractually agreed.

Zur Haidkoppel industrial yard
Supported within the framework of Hamburg’s business development programme, heating technology company Spangenberg + Schneider acquired its corporate head office at Zur Haidkoppel in 2013 and successfully launched a craftsmen’s house on-site the premises. Today, the facility accommodates four trade businesses with a staff of 45 people, including seven trainees. Due to growing space requirements of the current users of this facility, the neighbouring property has now been acquired for creating additional storage and floor space.

Schindler, a highly specialised lift manufacturer that operates on a global scale, has restructured its service and administration unit in Northern Germany and has realigned it for future growth. Provided with business development support, the company was able to relocate to the Campus Hamburg office complex and was thus the second company to move into the new property developed by ECE. Located in the northern part of the district of Barmbek, the anchor tenant is Société Générale.

Relocation: selected company profiles

Checker Software Systems GmbH
Checker Software Systems from Israel started operations in Hamburg in 2021. To gain a deeper understanding of the German market, the company intends to support its nationwide clients from the German head office in Hamburg. The company has more than 15 years of experience in developing digital research solutions and integration technology in the mystery shopping and Customer Experience (CX) / Voice of the Customer (VoC) industries. Checker Software Systems provides enterprise-level package solutions for market research professionals and mystery shoppers worldwide.

Ensmile is a Pakistan-based manufacturer of invisible aligners. Using 3D dental printing technology, the company develops high-quality, innovative products for orthodontists, dentists and dental labs worldwide. The dental trays are specially designed for the treatment of adults and will correct misaligned teeth with transparent plastic trays instead of metal braces. The company currently supplies its products to six well-known clinics in Germany.

Saedinia GmbH
As a producer of handmade sweets, the Saedinia family has been a household name since 1970. Based in Iran, the Saedinia Group offers a wide range of products, such as Sohan, Gaz, tea, various desserts, chocolates, and other cocoa products. Comprising a 600 m² sales area and an on-site café, the company has successfully opened its first outlet in Hamburg. Due to Covid-related restrictions (such as short-time work arrangements and lockdowns), the number of staff in Hamburg currently varies between seven and thirteen.

Synergy Marine Germany GmbH
Headquartered in Singapore, Synergy Marine is a group of companies with locations in more than 13 countries worldwide, including the United States, Australia, India, Japan, China, South Korea and the Philippines. The Hamburg office was opened in November 2021 and is the group’s 25th office. Synergy Marine provides world-class, technology-driven marine solutions and caters for shipowners’ management and maintenance requirements. Additionally, the company has its own fleet of over 400 vessels. For its contribution to Singapore’s development as an international maritime hub, Synergy Marine received an International Maritime Award (IMA) in 2021. Synergy Marine recently signed an agreement with Oldendorff Carriers, a leading German shipowner. The company already works with a number of German and Scandinavian shipowners and intends to expand its services within the EU.

The Singapore-based company develops AI-based diagnostic hardware and software solutions for a wide range of eye diseases. These are used e.g. for monitoring the diagnosis and prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, glaucoma, stroke, hypertension and macular degeneration. According to TeleMedC, the company’s AI-based system for the detection of diabetic retinopathy was the first of its kind to be approved in Singapore and Australia and is one of the world’s most accurate image diagnostic AI services. Most recently, the company received a grant from the Hamburg Investment and Development Bank (IFB). The funding aims to secure research and development work with the Eye Clinic at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) over a two-year period. Headquartered in Singapore and with offices in Australia and Germany, TeleMedC continues to be a leading player in the areas of deep tech and medical innovation.

Outlook for 2022

In spite of the ongoing pandemic, demand for commercial space continues to be high among Hamburg companies. Often enough, the low number of available sites prevents projects from being completed. Therefore, the procurement of investment projects within the Hamburg Metropolitan Region will become increasingly relevant going forward. Small-scale users from the office segment in particular are still cautious; they tend to wait and see how things are developing and gladly benefit from the comprehensive advisory services offered by Hamburg Invest. As the successful relaunch of the Hamburg Real Estate Database (HDB), including associated services, is currently underway, even more support will be provided to small and medium-sized enterprises and private real estate vendors in particular.

As regards international relocation projects, the situation continues to be complex. In view of travel restrictions as well as mandatory hygiene and health requirements for events with a limited number of participants – and a resulting reluctance to hold physical or hybrid events – 2022 is going to be a challenging year, especially in the area of international investment.

In an effort to dovetail business and science even more smoothly, an additional location for startups and young, technology-based companies will be established in the immediate vicinity of DESY Innovation Factory II, the future startup and research centre in the district of Altona. To meet the acute demand for rentable lab and office space for young tech companies and research organisations, the new location, tecHHub, is being developed on behalf of the Hamburg Ministry for Economic Affairs and Innovation and in accordance with a needs analysis provided by Hamburg Invest Entwicklungsgesellschaft (HIE). Budget funds of EUR 35 million have been earmarked for this purpose. Unlike DESY Innovation Factory II, the new premises will have a focus on biological and chemical wet labs. Catering for startups and growing innovative companies from the life sciences sector in particular, tecHHub aims to provide ample lab and office space as well as networking opportunities on a gross floor area of approx. 6,800 m².