Germany – but not as we know it…

Dermot Devlin | 23 Nov 2015 | European Perspective

One of the biggest challenges facing economic development organisations (EDOs) in 2015 is the ability to create awareness of their regional offer. In many cases, the international perception of a nation’s offer is often tagged with its traditional business culture and capability from yesteryear, however many national and regional economies have sought and achieved differentiation and innovation beyond their conventionally recognised strengths in the global marketplace.

This blog reviews the need for EDOs to create awareness of their respective regional diversity. It is straightforward to highlight this effect when using the example of the fast-growing and diversifying economies in the world’s developing countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore in the Far East or even Peru, Chile and Columbia in Latin America. However, some of the largest economies in the world also have to raise awareness of their innovative growth and diversification away from the known traditional comparative advantages.

Take Germany for example, the largest national economy in Europe and the world’s fourth largest by nominal GDP. Of course Germany has a diversified and balanced economy, with a large services sector but many of us would associate Germany with its prowess in engineering, advanced manufacturing (particularly automotive) and industrial machinery. And rightly so, Germany is home to global brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, Siemens and Porsche to name a select few. The growth and strength in the ICT sector is where German EDOs have a greater challenge in highlighting international awareness of the significant innovations and strengths the country possesses.

One EDO which is actively pursuing this challenge is NRW. Invest of the Western German region of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) which includes the cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, and Essen. The 23,700 ICT enterprises in North Rhine-Westphalia employs a workforce 205,000 people generating combined sales revenues of approximately €97 billion which equates to almost one-fifth of regional GDP. These NRW-based enterprises account for 83% share of the growing German mobile communications market and the EDO is keen to continue to outperform their counterparts by attracting further international business into the region.

Another significant sector for NRW region is Digital Media and the Creative Industries with 25,000 enterprises, a total workforce of 425,000 and annual sales of €126 billion. Düsseldorf is Germany’s number one advertising industry location whilst Cologne is the No.1 media location with leading companies such as Bertelsmann, Deutsche Telekom, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft.
In September 2015, the World’s largest Digital Media event, Dmexco, took place in Cologne. Further evidence that Cologne is now gaining global recognition in this space and competing with the industry powerhouses of London, New York and San Francisco.

It is the ambitious companies in ICT, Digital Media and their relevant sub-sectors based in the leading clusters such as the locations aforementioned that NRW. Invest want to continue to attract to their region to ensure a balanced and diversified economy.

In early December the agency are holding a business conference and networking event in central London to take a close look at the trends, strategies and challenges for UK companies who are currently doing business in Germany or would like to explore business opportunities within the ICT, Digital Media and Smart Manufacturing sectors.
As one of those naïve individuals that attributed the nation’s economic success on the back of their world renowned engineering capabilities only, I will look forward to this event to learn more of the technological innovations that are playing an integral role in Germany’s continued economic growth.

For more information on this event, please feel free to contact me on: or
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