Cornelia Yzer: Berlin: A strong business location in the fast lane

The statistics show that Berlin has the highest rate of start-ups of any German state. The capital city region – with Berlin as its nucleus – displays impressive dynamism.


More companies are founded in Berlin than in any other state. With 40,000 new companies every year and 14% of the population self-employed, Berlin is Germany’s undisputed capital of start-ups. The digital economy in particular is a central driver behind Berlin’s start-up scene, with applications and services ranging from online marketing to cloud computing and e-commerce-based services for end customers. The reasons are obvious: an outstanding research infrastructure, an inspiring creative scene, options for networking and synergies, and highly-qualified specialist staff – all assets that we are developing further and promoting.

Every year, Berlin’s digital economy gives rise to around 500 new, young, innovative technology companies, characterised by a broad and innovative spectrum of topics and huge momentum. The sector can now exhibit a large number of success stories of IT and Internet start-ups that have become established companies in Berlin. The start-up incubator Rocket Internet, the fashion retailer Zalando, the delivery service Delivery Hero and the music platform Soundcloud are probably the most glowing examples of this extremely successful urban development.

Berlin’s lively and successful start-up landscape has attracted worldwide attention and huge interest among international private investors. In the first quarter of 2015, the companies in the capital gathered more venture capital than any other European city, at EUR 876 million.

There is no doubt that, not least thanks to the energy in the digital economy, Berlin is currently enjoying a new period of rapid change that is shaping and driving forward the city’s economy. This, in every respect, positive development fits perfectly with Berlin’s urban flair. The city is international, varied, pulsating, multicultural and, above all, open. Open in the sense that it offers space to turn ideas into reality. This attracts doers, creative minds, talented people and specialist staff from all over Germany, Europe and the world. Anyone walking through the centre of Berlin today can sense this energy, the internationality and the newness that is shaping the city more and more.

All this means that the city is growing extremely dynamically – at 2.2 per cent in 2014, the city’s economic growth was far ahead of the national average once again. Berlin is also growing faster than any other German city in terms of population, with 45,000 new residents last year and a predicted increase of 300,000 over the next decade. This kind of growth will undoubtedly throw up some issues in terms of urban planning.

Berlin is facing up to this challenge assertively with an ambitious smart city strategy. A core aspect of this strategy is to drive forward the link between industry and research and development for Berlin in a targeted way, under the heading of “smart production”. After all, industrial production in the future will be more dependent than ever on highly-developed software and special sensory technology. Industry 4.0 and digitisation will transform all work, production, sales and marketing processes. Berlin is in an excellent position here. Many of the solutions of industry 4.0 are already made in Berlin today, giving the city the potential to develop into a leading international think tank for smart production. Key ideas and solutions in this field come not only from innovative Berlin-based companies, but especially from the many busy research institutes, such as Fraunhofer IPK and Fraunhofer FOKUS. At the same time, large German and international companies such as Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Post, Bertelsmann, ProSiebenSat.1, Otto Group, Daimler, Vattenfall, E.ON, Klöckner and Google have recognised this creative potential and are creating further stimulation for innovation in the city with their incubators, accelerators, digital units and shared service centres.


In terms of economic policy, we are constantly working to improve the framework conditions for business commitment in Berlin and to organise it in a futureproof way. As well as a sophisticated range of tools for business promotion tailored specifically to the concerns of companies already based here or making plans for the location, we also offer companies help in navigating all administrative processes in the form of the “Single Point of Contact” at the Senate Administration for Economic Affairs, Technology and Research. The team surrounding the Single Point of Contact allows companies to complete all formalities and applications electronically online – 24 hours a day. In public procurement law, we have now succeeded in rolling back bureaucracy and enabling contracts to be awarded much more quickly. With the idea of structuring the locations of the future, we are building on the success stories of the leading European technology park in Adlershof and the Biotech Campus Berlin-Buch. The aim is to activate new potential for synergies between business, science and research at further local technology hubs.

After years of realigning its economy, Berlin is now in the fast lane. This higher speed is good for the city, driving it forward in international competition. We will remain in the fast lane.

offizielles-Foto-300dpi©SenWTF-LopataCornelia Yzer
Born in Lüdenscheid in 1961, the author studied Law and Economics in Münster and Bochum, gaining accreditation as a lawyer in 1990. After working at Bayer AG and the Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, she became Senator for Economic Affairs, Technology and Research in Berlin in 2012.