Hamburg – Free Port of Innovative Ideas

Written by Henry Martin on . Posted in In Focus


Interview with Dr. Rolf Strittmatter Managing Director Hamburg Invest

When it comes to Hamburg’s international profile, the city has long been under the shadow of Germany’s capital, Berlin. And now, in 2017, the eyes of the world are suddenly on Hamburg. In January, the Elbphilharmonie, one of the world’s most spectacular concert halls, first opened its gates. In June, Hamburg superseded Berlin as Germany’s start-up capital, and in July, the world's most powerful political leaders gathered at the G20 summit in Hamburg to agree on the core principles for reshaping global trade.

Germany’s leading news magazine “Spiegel” has even featured Hamburg on their front page under the headline “The capital of Germany”. Further down the line, September will see the launch of the European XFEL project – a unique research facility based in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.

As part of this project, eleven European countries have invested more than € 1.5 billion in an X-ray laser that will open up entirely new research opportunities for scientists and stakeholders from industry. CEO Insight spoke to Dr Rolf Strittmatter, the CEO of Hamburg Invest, about the “new” Hamburg and the perspective this trading hub in Northern Europe can offer to both investors and talent.

CEO Insight: Whenever Hamburg is mentioned abroad, people tend to think of a traditional merchant city, the Reeperbahn and the Beatles, and I suppose football fans from around the world empathise with the HSV. In short, Hamburg used to have the image of a city whose golden days were in the past. And now, in 2017, Hamburg is generating one positive headline after another. So what has happened here?

Rolf Strittmatter: First of all we are delighted that Hamburg is perceived as an attractive destination by so many tourists. Tourism is an important economic branch for us. And yet Hamburg is also Germany’s largest industrial centre and boasts an immensely rich cultural landscape.

And of course the Elbphilharmonie is hugely topical at the moment. However, all those interested in culture should certainly not confine their visit to the Elbphilharmonie alone. It is also worth noting that industrial products from Hamburg are well known across the globe – just think of Airbus.

In recent years, Hamburg has also been putting considerable effort into enhancing the city’s cultural and industrial infrastructure. And thanks to the support of local entrepreneur Klaus-Michael Kühne, the HSV football club is actually progressing.

CEO Insight: Obviously, all of this didn’t happen by chance. So what is the underlying plan?

Rolf Strittmatter: Well, the point about the merchant city is of course true. And merchants do get their numbers right. Economic success is rooted in a combination of product quality and marketing, and this also applies to cities. For one thing, Hamburg is really working hard at making the city’s infrastructure work.

Compared with mega cities such as London and Paris, this is really a strong point. In addition, Hamburg actively encourages exchange between science and industry. Good ideas alone won’t make a change – ideas need to be translated into products to generate innovations.

CEO Insight: And yet, when thinking of Hamburg, innovations aren’t the first thing to come to mind.

Rolf Strittmatter: Hamburg’s strength lies in diversity, and not all of the city’s fortes are rooted in public awareness in the same way. For instance, Montblanc writing utensils are not from Switzerland, but from Hamburg. And the city’s shipbuilders have been investing in aircraft construction ever since the 1930s, which ultimately led to the emergence of Airbus. Nivea products come from Hamburg, and so do Steinway pianos.

Hamburg is also at the forefront in the area of medical technology, with players such as Olympus and Philips. NXP Semiconductors has its head office in Hamburg. As a port city, Hamburg is being supplied with goods and ideas, and ideas are ultimately transformed into products. In short, Hamburg can be considered a free port of innovative ideas.

CEO Insight: This suggests that Hamburg has a favourable position in the competition of locations, and that the city’s economic development agency can comfortably reap the harvest from the seeds they have sown.

Rolf Strittmatter: I’m afraid it is not quite as simple as that. The Elbphilharmonie, the city’s leading position as a start-up hub, the G20 summit and the European XFEL project are certainly milestones. And yet they can only unfold their full impact if they are followed by many smaller steps too.

For example, we are currently developing several new R&I parks, we have been able to bring numerous research institutes to Hamburg, and we are in the process of further optimising start-up conditions. What is more, Hamburg is making great efforts in the area of housing construction. Rents have to be reasonable for us to attract new talent. When compared internationally, prices for both rental flats and commercial spaces are moderate in Hamburg, and this is certainly a major locational advantage.

CEO Insight: Thank you for your time, Mr Strittmatter.

Hamburg Invest was established more than 30 years ago as the HWF Business Development Corporation. It is the one-stop agency for investment in Hamburg.

Credits: © European XFEL, Heiner Mueller-Elsner G20 leaders in front of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg © Bundesregierung, Guido Bergmann Portrait Rolf Strittmatter

High Tech Therapies

Written by Henry Martin on . Posted in In Focus

Yves Decadt, Biolingus CEO, explains the innovative technology that takes injectable medicines and transforms them into pills

CEO Insight: Congratulations on making CEO Insights Most Influential companies list. What makes BioLingus so innovative and what sets it apart from its competitors? 

Yves Decadt: Macromolecules are biological molecules which are very sensitive to degradation in the body. As a result, all pharmaceutical products based on such molecules have to be injected. Examples are insulin, but also interferon and vaccines. And actually the most successful pharmaceutical products in the past 20 years are also such biological molecules.

Stay Secure

Written by Henry Martin on . Posted in In Focus

Cyber-attacks have risen to the top of the agenda in both the private and public sphere, and in today’s global, highly competitive world, Templar Executives is the company to help you fight the battle. We interview Andrew Fitzmaurice, CEO, Templar Executives, on how best to avoid these issues.

Henry Martin: Templar Executives has won the Best Cyber Security Firm UK 2016 by CEO Insight magazine, alongside landing a place on this year’s Top 20 Most Influential list. What is it about Templar Executives unique approach that empowers companies to understand and exploit cyberspace?

Andrew Fitzmaurice: The digital era is heralding a new ‘cyber world’ of unprecedented interconnectedness, instantaneous communications and access to swathes of data and information – and every day, we are seeing the impacts of this on governments, organisations and individuals.

Insights into the path of economic development in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Written by Jamie on . Posted in In Focus

Interview with Michael Sturm, Managing Director at Invest in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern GmbH (Invest in MV) Mecklenburg-Vorpommern provides a unique added-value proposition for companies that are planning to expand their business operations. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has a very established and reputable knowledge and skills base with both a solid research base and established clusters in advanced industry sectors.

How do you think that these factors influence potential investors looking into FDI locations?

Once investors start looking for new opportunities to expand their businesses, there are different drivers that lead the decision-making process. Some of these drivers are related to site advantages –direct access to global markets or to research and development for instance. Other drivers include possible openings within existing clusters. At Invest in MV, we are currently focusing our efforts on attracting more companies from the life science and machine-building industries. These sectors have a lot of potential in our state due to its tradition and its strong consolidation.

Shipping Innovation

Written by James Brown on . Posted in In Focus

CEO Insight spoke recently with Mark Geilenkirchen, Chief Executive at SOHAR Port and Freezone

SOHAR Port and Freezone is a deep sea port and free zone in the Middle East, located in the Sultanate of Oman, midway between Dubai and Muscat. With investments of over US$26 billion, it is one of the world's fastest growing port and free zone developments and is located at the crossroads of trade routes between Asia and Europe. With a draft of up to 25 metres, it is also the deepest port in the region. SOHAR provides easy access to the fast diversifying economies of the Gulf States and Iran, while avoiding the additional costs for shipping of passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Arabian Gulf.

Winning in Business

Written by Patricia Cullen on . Posted in In Focus

CEO Insight talks to Kristin Engvig, founder and president of WIN, about how we can obtain a more empathetic, global and sustainable vision to work by embracing the feminine; through respect, diversity and inclusion. Working in partnership with men and women, young and old, WIN integrates feminine values, connecting leaders and businesses across the globe, thus helping to transform our work-life balance.

New Dawn for Mining

Written by Henry Martin on . Posted in In Focus

CEO Insight looks at two of the most exciting stories around global mining and metals. Firstly, the spotlight is fixed on Greenland, which constitutes the epitome of opportunity for investors in the extractive sector. Thereafter, attentions are turned to the seabed mining sector which has the potential to revolutionise the whole industry.

Greenland's status as the world's pre-eminent resource prospect is such that it has the capacity to change the market for critical minerals, precious, base metals and iron alloys. It enjoys a strategic global location between North America and Europe and is naturally blessed with an abundance of mineral deposits such as iron, aluminium, uranium, copper, nickel, platinum, titanium tungsten and zinc, as well as oil.

Despite a seemingly inexorable trajectory towards full independence from Denmark, Greenland needs to find a way to financially stand on its own two feet for this to be a viable proposition. Fisheries, to date the main driver of the economy, does not pack the required punch on its own, and so the Greenland Government has thrown its weight behind a strategy to leverage its undisputed mineral wealth, which has been almost completely untapped to date.

Strategic Location - Greenland

Written by Henry Martin on . Posted in In Focus

We speak with Greenland’s Minister for Mineral Resource Mr Múte Bourup Egede.

CEO Insight: A pivotal part of the mineral policy in Greenland is to ensure that companies recruit from the local area. Can you provide a brief account of Greenland’s natural abundance of mineral deposits and its strategic global location?

Múte Bourup Egede:  Greenland is one of the remaining frontier regions of the world in regard to mineral exploration. It is a vast, under-explored region with considerable potential for new discoveries and with known potential for a wide range of commodities including gold, nickel, platinum-group elements, copper, zinc-lead, rare earth elements, industrial minerals, titanium, diamonds and other gemstones. Despite being largely covered by the inland ice, the exposed rock area of Greenland is approximately the size of the Sweden. Greenland shares common geology with parts of northern Scandinavia and Arctic Canada and therefore should share similar styles and numbers of economic mineral deposits. Yet while currently there are over 90 operating mines in Sweden, Norway and Finland combined, there are currently none in Greenland.

All Change for Science and Technology

Written by Henry Martin on . Posted in In Focus

The United Kingdom’s science and technology sector is braced for change following the country’s recent vote in favour of Brexit. Just as for big business, it was an unwelcome outcome for the scientific community, since UK based researchers collaborate with their peers across the EU in large numbers, not only at a cognitive level, but also in having access to world-leading shared research facilities.

In addition, there is concern that a brain drain out of the UK will now hit science, with those remaining in the UK anxious that their ongoing involvement in international collaborations is now at risk. On the regulatory front, there is already talk of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), at present based in London, moving to mainland Europe.

The principal worry, unsurprisingly, relates to financial provision, with the EU currently responsible for a large slice of research funding through various grant programs and fellowships. To be precise, 18.3% of EU funds returning to this country go towards funding research and development, according to the Lords Science and Technology Committee, though it is also the case that universities, rather than businesses have principally benefitted from this arrangement. It is small wonder then, that UK universities are now lobbying hard to secure opportunities for students, staff and researchers to continue to be able to access pan-European programmes and utilise domestic facilities.

Cyber – A Boardroom Imperative in a Changing World

Written by Anu Khurmi on . Posted in In Focus

In today’s climate of unprecedented political and socio-economic change it is more imperative than ever that companies equip themselves for the uncertainty of the future. Unexpected outcomes such as the United Kingdom’s historic decision to vote for Brexit has stimulated controversy and speculation on what this means not just for the UK and the European Union, but also for the rest of the international community. Inevitably, the political debates and questions will continue to dominate for the foreseeable future, but one thing is certain: now more than ever the need for resilience in all aspects of business activity is essential for organisations to be successful in our brave new world.