Hamburg's changing world image tops agenda at representatives meeting

Focus on digitalisation, port, forward-looking technologies and start-up scene
The first meeting of representatives based in Dubai, Shanghai, Mumbai, Brussels and Saint Petersburg takes place from December 18-19, 2017 in Hamburg. Invited by Hamburg Marketing GmbH, the meeting will focus on positioning and marketing Hamburg in Berlin and abroad. “The aim is to help our representatives to convey a contemporary image of Hamburg and represent the interests of the Hanse city ideally abroad,” said Dr. Rolf Strittmatter, Managing Director of Hamburg Marketing GmbH.

How is Hamburg perceived abroad at present and what has changed?
How is the Elbphilharmonie perceived? Is there as much emphasis on start-ups in other parts of the world as in Hamburg, which has recently been hailed as Germany’s capital of start-ups? Are there approaches to international co-operations in terms of future–oriented technologies such as Hamburg’s digital port, 3D printing or virtual reality? Hamburg News talked to the representatives about these issues.

Hamburg – economic clout and high quality of life Hamburg’s world image is extremely positive.
The city’s reputation as an economic location continues to rise e.g. in the United Arab Emirates. Close co-operation between the Chambers of Commerce Hamburg and Dubai who organise the Dubai Hamburg Business Forum at “regular intervals in either city have contributed to this perception. The forum gives companies and economic representatives an opportunity to learn about the latest developments and to find new business partners,” according to Kirsten Staab, Director of the Hamburg Representative Office in Dubai. Meanwhile Lars Anke, Director of the Hamburg Liaison Office in Shanghai, pointed out: “Hamburg is perceived in China as a good example of links between economic clout and high quality of life.”

Digitalisation key to metropolitan region’s sustainability
The two-day meeting includes a guided tour of the Elbphilharmonie, a meeting in Hamburg’s Chamber of Commerce and a visit to HIP Health Innovation Port, opened by Philips GmbH in October. Wolfgang Schmidt, State Councillor in Hamburg’s Senate Chancellery, will welcome the city’s representatives to City Hall. Emphasis will also be on Hamburg’s digital development. “The digitalisation of products and services, methods and process is key to the Hamburg Metropolitan Region’s sustainability and is thus a decisive success factor in terms of competitive locations,” said Strittmatter.

Huge potential of 3D printing and virtual reality
Anke pointed out: “In recent years, China has taken note of Hamburg’s dynamic, commercial transformation in terms of digitalisation.” Hamburg’s positive image is characterised by traditional maritime industries and the port which is the most important hub in European-Chinese trade. Issues such as 3D printing, IT and media, modern, sustainable, infrastructure and urban planning are playing more important roles,” he added. Peter Deubet, Deputy Director General of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce in Mumbai, agreed and stressed: “Hamburg is well positioned in terms of forward-looking 3D printing. We see huge potential in the virtual reality sector as well and hope that Hamburg can become a virtual reality hotspot in Europe. That is attracting plenty of attention in India’s start-up scene and we hope to draw even more attention to Hamburg.“

Start-ups as drivers of innovation and mutual inspiration
Hamburg can learn plenty from India, which is known for a vibrant, constantly changing start-up scene that comes up with new business areas all the time. “Campaigns such as 'Start-up India’ or 'Digital India’ help draw attention to start-ups and highlight their growing importance for economic development,” said Deubet, who also lauded next.Media’s support of Hamburg’s start-up scene. Dr. Claus Müller, Director of the Hanse-Office in Brussels pointed to the “Start-up and Scale-up Initiative“ launched by the EU Commission in 2016 to help companies expand. The initiative has come up with solutions for a more efficient domestic market that benefits start-ups and scale-ups as well as Europe and Hamburg.

“Data protection laws and security restrictions Germany limit innovations in many areas. By contrast, Dubai is very open, for instance, to a smart city administration,” said Staab. In reference to innovation, emphasis in Germany is on the start-up scene. Dubai is benefiting from an influx of fledgling companies from all over the world, which strengthens openness towards innovations. The exchange is more fruitful because opportunities for mutual learning can be deduced and put towards joint projects, she noted.

Joint Chinese-German collaborations, for instance, are thriving and “especially between the Port of Hamburg and Shanghai and Shenzhen. Co-operation agreements exist with ports in Ningbo, Qingdao, Tianjin und Guangzhou,” said Anke and stressed networks as part of chainPORT, initiated by the Port of Hamburg.

Well-ahead in renewable energies
Asked about forward-looking issues next year, Müller mentioned “transport issues, the digital domestic market, media policy and presenting Hamburg’s study about Erasmus+” while the renewable energies sector topped the list of priorities for representatives based in China, Dubai and Mumbai. “In 2018, Hamburg’s representation in Mumbai will focus on WindEnergy Hamburg 2018 which we are marketing in India. We are in constant contact with Indian stakeholders in renewable energies,” said Deubet. Staab pointed to new technologies, “but also traditional sectors such as maritime industries, aviation and the health sector.” China is showing keen interest in Hamburg’s health sector, said Anke, and noted: “Demographic transformation in China is creating demand for medical technology, in nursing and the care of old aged persons as well as child care and education. Hamburg leads China in terms of experience and holds huge potential.“

Radiant Elbphilharmonie easing work
The Elbphilharmonie is making Hamburg better known abroad, according to all representatives. Müller spoke of a “key contribution“ while Deubet noted a “second unique selling point alongside the port”. The keen interest in music across China had boosted appreciation of a “concert hall” for everyone. The additional press coverage had been pleasing, said Staab and expressed hopes of marketing the entire region as a holiday destination.

“Families in the UAE select holiday destinations according to the entertainment value for the whole family especially children.“ Apart from attractive shopping opportunities, excursions outside of cities are of interest. “Hamburg and the surrounding regions have plenty to offer such as ferry trips to Helgoland or excursions to Lübeck or the Lüneburg Heath.” This would help raise the image of north Germany in general.

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