Concentrating on industries of the future:

Hamburg Invest places focus on knowledge- and technology-based value creation

Concentrating on industries of the future:

A total of 6,419 jobs created and secured, 1,153 companies serviced, and an investment volume of EUR 455 million: these are the key figures of Hamburg Invest for the year 2018. Activities were mainly directed at companies engaged in knowledge- and technology-oriented value creation, and the most important source markets for businesses locating in Hamburg were China and Germany.

Hamburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Michael Westhagemann, commented: "In Hamburg, science and applied research are closely interlinked. They serve as partners for traditional companies that develop new products and services and ensure that the Hanseatic city’s many competitive industries are always up to date. Hamburg Invest is in charge of increasing the knowledge- and technology-based added value by systematically attracting new companies. Yet the focus is not purely on growth in terms of volume, but rather on strengthening Hamburg as an innovation location in both structural and sustainable terms."

Dr Rolf Strittmatter, Managing Director of Hamburg Invest, added: "Hamburg Invest supports the process of structural change in Hamburg’s business sector. By launching the Startup Unit in early 2018 and by commissioning the development of several innovation parks, the Hamburg Senate has sharpened the profile of the city’s business development agency. Today, companies with a technology background account for the largest share of HIW clients. But of course we continue to serve as the main port of call for companies from all sectors and all trades. Since HIW is now also in charge of all municipal commercial and industrial areas, we can now even step up our support for companies seeking to settle or expand in Hamburg."

Virtual Reality Headquarters (VRHQ)

Hamburg Invest's annual press conference was held at the Virtual Reality Headquarters (VRHQ) in Hamburg's historic Speicherstadt warehouse district. At the VRHQ, creative entrepreneurs have the opportunity to explore state-of-the-art VR applications and exchange their ideas. The initiators of VRHQ, the four Hamburg-based startups Noys VR, Spice VR, Spherie and VR Nerds, have established a joint work and exhibition space on the Kreativspeicher premises.

Egbert Rühl, Managing Director of Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft mbH, explained: "Situated between Hamburg’s port and the city centre, the ‘Speicher M28’ premises are literally at the interface – and not just from a bird's eye view: in addition to music and sound production companies, artists’ and creative studios, Speicher M28 provides room for collaborations between hardware and software companies from the VR sector. New opportunities have arisen now that the VRHQ and the VR Research and Transfer Centre of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) are also located here. Virtual reality has long ceased to be a niche topic. The creative industries can now demonstrate new ways of harnessing the manifold potential of technology."

Selected company profiles

The recent redesign of Hamburg Invest was already reflected in the range of companies it supported in the course of 2018. Especially when it came to newly established businesses, the focus was on technology- and knowledge-oriented companies.

Spherie UG

Spherie UG was founded in Hamburg three years ago. Yet Spherie – the world's first drone capable of delivering fully spherical, highly immersive 360° images without recording itself – was designed as early as 2014 by founders Nicolas Chibac and Jonathan Hesselbarth. Being the owners of other companies such as Spice VR (VR and 360° film production) and Wingcopter (transport drones), Chibac and Hesselbarth have been able to contribute important expertise to the new Spherie company. As part of various projects for public broadcaster WDR, classification society DNV-GL and logistics giant HHLA, Spherie has been able to demonstrate its expertise in delivering unique image material. In 2017, the project “Inside Auschwitz”, which was produced in collaboration with Spherie on behalf of WDR, was awarded the German Web Video Prize.

In 2018, HHLA invested in the young company, which today employs a team of 11 full-time staff. In addition to focusing on 360° filming, Spherie also began researching and implementing projects in areas such as photogrammetry, scanning, S.L.A.M. and UAV-based inspections. Through its cooperation with HHLA, these areas have moved even further to the forefront. Spherie accelerates and simplifies the creation of digital twins, which offers enormous advantages in areas such as shipping, logistics, and urban planning. As a result, the company fits in perfectly with Hamburg and its core business sectors, such as media production, innovative technologies, logistics, and shipbuilding.

XCharge

Based in Hamburg, XCharge Europe GmbH is a subsidiary of Beijing XCharge Technology, which was founded in Beijing (China) in May 2015. As a solution provider, XCharge offers a comprehensive range of hardware products, from the AC wallbox to the DC fast charging system, including a customised cloud-based software platform. This helps providers reduce operating costs and increase revenues.
Over the past three and a half years, XCharge has delivered approximately 30,000 charging stations. Customers such as the energy group State Grid, charging station provider Prime Union and automobile manufacturers Nio, XPeng, Audi and DiDi's Orange Energy rely on hardware and software solutions made by XCharge.

In the short financial year, the company has been able to secure a broad customer base in Germany, including energy suppliers, municipal utility companies, local public transport companies, charging station providers, logistics service providers and car dealerships. XCharge is a perfect fit for Hamburg and operates as a startup at the interface of the energy and traffic transition.

Galaxus

Only shortly before entering the German market, Swiss online shop Galaxus opened its German headquarters in Hamburg. “We have chosen Hamburg mainly for recruitment reasons,” says Frank Hasselmann, Managing Director of Galaxus Germany. “The city is tremendously attractive for specialists from the e-commerce and media sectors, and we are seeking to benefit from this.” For the time being, the Hamburg office provides 40 workplaces.

ContiTech InnovationLab

Continental’s innovation hub at the Harburg location is currently being expanded to become the new centrepiece and a think tank of the ContiTech industrial division's worldwide digital and innovation activities. Yet the creative premises can also be used to benefit the innovation ecosystem in Hamburg. On an area of 8,000 m² and with an initial permanent staff of six, 18 additional workplaces will be created, providing space and collaboration opportunities for startups and partners from industry and research. While the technology company has launched its first expansion stage, additional extensions for more creative and innovative ideas “made in Hamburg” are already in the planning stages.

Harburg-Freudenberger Maschinenbau GmbH

The new head office of Harburg-Freudenberger Maschinenbau GmbH (HF Group) has been under construction at Schlachthofstrasse in the district of Harburg since the autumn of 2018. HF Group is a group company of the Lübeck-based Possehl Group. Located in close proximity to the company’s previous head office, the new site comprises a total area of approx. 20,000 m² and will include an office building with a floor space of 7,700 m² as well as an adjacent assembly and technology centre with 5,500 m². Once the new building has been completed, the HF Group’s 300 employees, who have been working at two different locations in Harburg to date, will be able to work under one roof from mid-2020.

XLase GmbH

XLase GmbH is a fully owned subsidiary of HSG Laser in Foshan (China). The new Hamburg startup aims to become one of the European market leaders in China and to make its innovative product range of high-performance laser machines for industrial material processing available to customers in the European Economic Area. To this end, XLase intends to develop and expand a comprehensive distribution and service network in Europe.

Nordic Volt

Under the name Nordic Volt, renowned Swedish advertising agency Volt Stockholm has recently opened a branch in Hamburg.

The parent company, Volt Stockholm, is part of the independent Creative North network. Employing a staff of approx. 50 people, the company has been active as an owner-managed creative agency for brand strategy, design and communication since 1997. Clients include e.g. Peugeot, SCANIA, LIDL and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The agency enjoys an excellent reputation among clients from the entire industry and among young talent in particular.

Quinyx

Quinyx, the leading Swedish provider of cloud-based workforce management solutions, continues its European expansion efforts and has now opened a branch in Hamburg. The company already has more than 700 clients with 500,000 users worldwide, including household names such as McDonalds, Burger King, Rituals, and, most recently, the Odeon/UCI cinemas as well as Mobilcom-Debitel. Some of these companies are already using Quinyx in Germany.

Global Fiberglass Solution (GFS)

Global Fiberglass Solutions Inc. (GFS) is an industrial recycling and environmentally friendly manufacturing company with its head office in Bothell, Washington State (USA). The company focuses on the growing demand for resources to recover recyclable materials such as glass fibre and carbon fibre and create recycled products through a proprietary system. GFS has been based in Hamburg since 2018.

Scada Minds GmbH

Scada Minds, a Danish group that offers software solutions for the wind industry as well as advanced 3D printing technology, has opened its German office in Hamburg.

Managing Director Mo Siddiqui said: “By setting up the Hamburg office, the Scada Minds family has grown even further. We are proud to contribute to making Hamburg a leading innovation location in Europe. Mr Siddiqui further added: “I would like to thank the Hamburg Invest team for their support, which has enabled us to bring our innovative solutions and advanced software and consulting services to Hamburg and to be closer to our German customers in the wind energy industry.”

Outlook for 2019

The Federal Government recently adjusted its 2019 growth forecast for Germany downwards by 0.8 percentage points. At the same time, the Hamburg Ministry of Economy, Transport and Innovation (BWVI) and Hamburg Invest continue to expect a positive trend for the employment and labour market development in Hamburg.

A number of planned relocation projects in Hamburg have been postponed due to Brexit-related reasons. It can be assumed that these will be clarified soon and that the backlog in decision-making can be resolved accordingly.

Over the past year, Hamburg Invest has been very active in the UK in promoting Hamburg as a business location and in making the case for continued close collaborations with Britain. As part of these efforts, Hamburg Invest works closely with London & Partners, London’s business development agency. Depending on whether Brexit will happen with or without a deal, this commitment will result in successful relocations in the short or medium term. However, the relocation of companies in the context of Brexit is not a one-way street. Even after leaving the EU, the United Kingdom will remain an attractive business location and partner for Hamburg's business community. For all companies affected by Brexit, it will be important to find a customised solution that makes most sense from a business perspective. Hamburg Invest continues to be committed to this goal also in 2019. At the same time, the range of services for startups and technology companies will be expanded further, and Hamburg will be marketed as a technology location e.g. at Hannover Messe.