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Hamburg Invest focusing on future-orientated sectors

Keener focus on knowledge and technology-based value creation

Hamburg Invest announced Thursday (February 21, 2019) key figures for 2018 during its annual press conference in the Virtual Reality Headquarters (VRHQ) in Speicherstadt. A total of 6,419 jobs have been created and secured, 1,153 companies serviced, and an investment of EUR 455 million achieved. Activities were directed mainly at companies in knowledge and technology-orientated value creation. China and Germany proved the most important source markets for businesses locating to Hamburg.

Hamburg Invest’s role

Michael Westhagemann Hamburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs, noted: “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 step up our support for companies seeking to settle or expand in Hamburg.”

Virtual Reality Headquarters (VRHQ)

Creative entrepreneurs can explore state-of-the-art VR applications in VRHQ. Initiated by the Hamburg-based start-ups Noys VR, Spice VR, Spherie and VR Nerds, joint work and exhibition space is now available there. Egbert Rühl, Managing Director of Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft mbH, remarked: “Speicher M28 provides room for collaborations between hardware and software companies in 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.”

Select company profiles

Hamburg Invest’s revamp is reflected by the range of companies supported in 2018 especially newly-established businesses. The focus was also on technology and knowledge-orientated companies.

Spherie UG

Founded in Hamburg in 2016 as Spherie UG, the world’s first Spherie drone can deliver fully spherical, highly immersive 360° images without recording itself and was designed as early as 2014 by founders Nicolas Chibac and Jonathan Hesselbarth. The duo also own Spice VR (VR and 360° film production) and Wingcopter (transport drones), which allowed them to input their expertise into the Spherie company. As part of various projects for the Cologne-based public broadcaster WDR, the DNV-GL classification society and the HHLA logistics giant, Spherie has demonstrated its expertise at delivering unique image material. In 2017, the “Inside Auschwitz” project, produced in collaboration with Spherie on behalf of WDR, won the German Web Video Prize.

In 2018, HHLA invested in the fledgling company, which now has eleven full-time employees. Apart from its focus on 360° filming, Spherie has also begun researching and implementing projects in photogrammetry, scanning, S.L.A.M. and UAV-based inspections.


Based in Hamburg, XCharge Europe GmbH is a subsidiary of the Beijing-based XCharge Technology, which was founded 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 allows providers to reduce operating costs and to increase revenues. XCharge has delivered around 30,000 charging stations since mid 2015. 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 XCharge’s hardware and software solutions.


The Swiss online shop Galaxus opened its headquarters in Hamburg before launching on the German market. “We chose Hamburg mainly for recruitment reasons,” said 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.” The branch in Hamburg provides 40 jobs presently.

ContiTech InnovationLab

The innovation hub in Harburg is being expanded to become the new centrepiece and think-tank of ContiTech worldwide digital and innovation activities. The creative premises also benefits Hamburg’s innovative ecosystem. On an 8,000 m² area and with an initial permanent staff of six, 18 additional workplaces will be created, providing space and collaboration opportunities for start-ups and partners in industry and research. The company is now in the first stage of expansion. Plans are also being laid for more extensions and for creative and innovative ideas “Made in Hamburg”.

Outlook for 2019

The German government recently revised down its growth forecast for Germany 2019 by 0.8 percentage points. However, the Hamburg Ministry of Economy, Transport and Innovation (BWVI) and Hamburg Invest expect a positive trend in Hamburg’s employment and labour market development. Several relocation projects in Hamburg have been postponed owing to Brexit, but are likely to be clarified soon.

Last year, Hamburg Invest actively promoted Hamburg as a business location in Britain and argued in favour of continued close collaboration with the kingdom. As part of these efforts, Hamburg Invest works closely with London & Partners, London’s business development agency. Depending on whether Britain secures a deal or no-deal Brexit with the EU, this commitment will eventually result in successful relocations. Even after leaving the EU, Britain will remain an attractive business location and partner for Hamburg’s business community. 

Sources and further Informations:

Hamburg Invest's Startup Unit already paying off

The expansion of Hamburg’s economic development department to include a separate unit for start-ups is already paying off. Around 500 company founders and other technology companies were advised in the first year, 2018. In an interview with Deutsche Presse-agentur dpa, Rolf Strittmatter, Managing Director of Hamburg Invest, said informative discussions accounted for about 50 per cent of all talks. The founders receive information about Hamburg’s start-up scene, financing, important events and networks.

Melissa KnausFeb. 21, 2019