Dr. Stefan Franzke: Digital metropolis Berlin – Booming location for digital health

Berlin’s economy is booming, and there is no end in sight. For years now, the economic growth of the German capital has been far ahead of the national average.


The Cluster Healthcare Industries is an economic driver in Berlin. The dynamic and nationally renowned start-up scene also significantly increases the attractiveness of the metropolis on the Spree. Particularly the digital know-how of many young entrepreneurs makes Berlin the digital metropolis of Europe. Digital health – the combination of developments in the healthcare industry and information technologies – has evolved into a new and innovative field over the past years. It has the potential to bring about sustainable change of the healthcare sector.

Berlin-Brandenburg is one of the largest and most diverse scientific regions in Europe and the key research and science centre in Germany. The high concentration of 35 large research institutions and universities which focus their research on healthcare industry and life sciences is unique in Europe. They encompass internationally renowned facilities such as Charité, Europe’s largest university hospital, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and the Deutsche Herzzentrum Berlin (German Heart Institute Berlin). At the same time, the internationality and high quality of life in the capital region attracts renowned scientists and experienced managers from all over the world.

With almost 300 medical technology, more than 230 biotechnology, 30 pharmaceutical companies and over 130 hospitals, the Berlin-Brandenburg region is one of the most important locations for the healthcare industry in Germany. More than 300,000 people work in this sector. Leading companies such as Bayer HealthCare, Bausch + Lomb, B. Braun Melsungen, Berlin-Chemie, Biotronik, Pfizer and Sanofi are already based in Berlin. Thanks to biotechnology parks, funding programmes and a sustainable innovation policy, Berlin-Brandenburg is taking a leading position on the national and international level as a life science location.

The digital economy has also become a real driver for innovation and growth in Berlin: every eighth job in Berlin has been created in the area of digital economy since 2008. This corresponds to almost 18,000 new jobs. In total, nearly 60,000 people are employed by companies in the field of digital economy. Global players such as Google and Twitter are located in Berlin – and many more are on their way. The company behind the famous scheduling tool Doodle, for example, opened its first international subsidiary in Berlin this year. The dynamic start-up landscape of the capital has become another advantage for the location. Berlin attracts creative minds and entrepreneurs from all over the world. Here, company founders find the ideal economic climate for developing business ideas or implement them directly. Currently, the start-up boom seems to be infinite: well-trained professionals, excellent infrastructure and reasonable real estate prices are the success factors that make Berlin into an ideal experimental hub for new ideas. The German capital in particular attracts entrepreneurs in the digital economy.

Thanks to this unique combination, the capital region continues to evolve into a hotspot for the future field digital health. With its advanced IT, life science and hospital structure, the city provides excellent prerequis­ites for the development and application of digital processes and products. Nearly 100 companies and institutes in the region develop, for example, products and services in the area of medical informatics and telemedicine. The Hasso-Plattner-Institut in Potsdam, for instance, carries out research projects on innovative data management technologies that are groundbreaking for telemedicine. Different networks provide a comprehensive access to highly qualified care in the region. This includes, for example, the teleradiological network at the Trauma Hospital Berlin, the “AGnES” project (physician-relieving, community-oriented, e-health-assisted, systemic intervention) or telemedicine networks for cardiologic high-risk patients.

The generic term digital health encompasses a wide range of applications. This includes, for example, health portals, measuring and assistance systems, fitness apps and also telemedicine applications. Information and communication technologies also generate new products and services in order to bring together the most recent findings from medical research, genomics and systems biology. Due to the high operative and strategic significance of information processing functions and products to all areas of healthcare industry and healthcare provision, e-health is a topic that is becoming increasingly important in the Cluster Healthcare Industries in Berlin-Brandenburg. It is important to adequately consider tech­­nology development and interconnection of all involved stakeholders – from medical technology to biotechnology and pharmaceutics to medical care, prevention and health promotion.

DrDr. Stefan Franzke
After graduating in mechanical engineering, Dr. Stefan Franzke was the managing director at the “Institut für Integrierte Produktion” in Hannover. As head of the “Innovationszentrum Niedersachsen”, he enhanced his expertise in strategy consulting regarding innovations and key technologies and consulted international investors beginning in 2003. From 2006, he was also the managing director of “Innovatives Niedersachsen” responsible for national and international marketing of the state. He has been the managing director at Berlin Partner for Business and Technology since 1 July 2014. Dr. Stefan Franzke is the spokesperson for the management board.