Martin Günthner: Business infrastructure justifies optimism in Bremen

Beck’s beer und Jacobs coffee, Mer­cedes Benz and Airbus, containers and satellites – to name just a handful of Bremen’s many success stories. Stories with an exciting past and a bright fu­­ture. Bremen and Bremerhaven might make up the smallest federal state in Germany, but they are nevertheless able to compete on a national level thanks to their combination of traditional Hanseatic ethics combined with innovative future fields and a waterfront featuring the fourth largest cargo port in Europe. Bremen has a strong economic output and is the me­­tropolis of Northwest Germany.

Bremerhaven is joint leader in car trans­­shipment. The economy in Bremen de­­­veloped at a high level in 2011. Sig­­­­nificant indicators for this include the total volume of transshipments handled at Bremen ports, which rose by 17 per cent to around 81 tonnes, as well as the container volume in Bremerhaven, which increased by 21.5 per cent to over 5.9 million TEU. Or car transhipment: fol­­lowing a mark of 1.59 million vehicles in 2010, 2.1 million vehicles were transshipped in 2011. Alongside Zeebrugge, Bremerhaven remains the most import­ant European hub for car transshipping.


On the subject of automobiles: the Mer­­cedes Benz plant in Bremen employs over 12,000 people, making it one of the largest private employers in the region. Around 250,000 vehicles are produced at the plant every year, such as the Mer­­cedes Benz C-class, with the site even set to become the centre of excellence for this series in the months ahead. The value creation chain starts right on the doorstep: more than 600 automobile in­­dustry suppliers have settled in Bremen, particularly in the Hansalinie industrial estate near the Mercedes Benz plant.
The roughly 155 hectare business park is directly connected to the A1 motorway and is also close to the A27. Around 2,000 employees in approximately 70 companies work at the site, which is home to processing businesses, service providers and a DHL logistics centre as well as a large number of automotive companies.

Top food brands from Bremen. Merging technology and know-how – that is Bre­­men’s hallmark. But the tastier side of the city should also not be overlooked: Beck’s beer has been brewed in Bremen since 1876, with the brand today be­­longing to the brewing group Anheuser-Busch InBev. Kraft Foods Deutschland has its headquarters in Bremen and is the group behind brands such as Milka and Jacobs. Hachez chocolate is produced in Bremen’s new town while DMK Deutsches Milchkontor, one of Europe’s leading companies in the milk industry, is based in Airport City. Kellogg’s Deutsch­­­­land produces up to a million packs of Corn Flakes and other cereals every day in the Überseestadt suburb.

Urban development combining living and working. In recent times, a new suburb has emerged in the former port area. It is one of the largest urban de­­­velopment projects in Europe with a unique blend of old and new business, mixing history, modernity, culture, living and gastronomy. The 300 hectare suburb is only a few kilometres from the inner city, situated directly on the water­­front making it highly attractive for living and working. Nowadays, more than 450 companies with around 9,000 employees are located in Überseestadt. The mix is highly colourful: from Rickmers Reismühle and Bremer Rolandmühle, which is run as a family company in its sixth genera­­tion, to advertising agencies, architects and silversmiths – there are a whole host of traditional and emerging companies now settled in the suburb. In addition, the Weser Tower is located in Über­­see­­stadt. Towering high at 82 metres, it is the tallest office block in Bremen and was completed in 2010.

The city also has many other continuously growing suburbs and business parks. The Cargo Transportation Centre (GVZ) offers over one million square metres of functional hall space for logistics, production and wholesale – making it the largest of its kind in Europe. 150 companies and over 8,000 employees are based here, as is Europe’s largest high bay warehouse. Its position in the heart of the Nordrange makes the centre the ideal hub for global goods flows. Following the opening of the JadeWeserPort, Bremen will be ideally positioned between the three most im­­portant north German ports Bremer­­haven, Wilhelmshaven and Ham­­burg. The generous expansion capacity also en­­sures that other companies have a chance to in­­vest in a “front row” location at attractive conditions.

Airport City, the area around Bremen’s airport, has also emerged as a highly attractive part of the city. The EADS com­­panies Airbus (3,200 employees at Bre­­men site) and Astrium (1,000 employees) are based in this part of Bremen, as are relatively new institutions such as the European Offshore HSSE Center, an off­­shore energy safety centre unique of its kind in Northern Europe. Overall, around 16,000 people work at roughly 500 com­­panies based in Airport City.


Bremen not only benefits from lively co­­operation within its suburbs, it also enjoys effective exchange between the worlds of business and academia. The technology park, which has emerged around the university over the last 20 years, is a prime example of this. Since its foundation, it has developed into one of the leading high-tech sites in Ger­­many, with Siemens and OHB AG being based at the site alongside the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manu­­facturing Technology and Advanced Mate­­rials. Today, more than 400 companies employing around 6,500 people work in an area of approximately 170 hectares. The symbol of the technology park is the 120 metre Fallturm tower. This research institute has been carrying out experiments in zero gravity since 1990 – again, this is unique of its kind in Europe.

In Bremen, research is very much practice-oriented. In June 2012, the University of Bremen was recognised in the third round of the Excellence Ini­tia­tive of the German federation and the federal states for its forward-looking concept – the university has developed into one of the most successful German research universities. From its wide range of faculties, its marine sciences, IT, pro­­duction technology and materials and raw materials sciences programmes really set the university apart. Bremen Uni­­ver­­sity of Applied Sciences supports know-how in the region with its international degree programmes centering on technology and business. Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences offers innovative courses in commercial IT, technical lo­­gistics and biotechnology, while the inter­­national Jacobs University specialises in natural sciences and engineering as well as humanities and social sciences. In addition, the region is also home to many other academic institutions such as the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven and the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence in Bremen. All these institutions enjoy close ties with industry, paving the way to numerous exciting research projects and targeted coopera­­tion with companies. And this in turn could pave the way for new success sto­­ries from the city of Bremen. The mood in the city is highly optimistic. We are always open to new ideas and are pleased to offer the ideal starting condi­­tions and funding options for a healthy future.

Senator_Günthner_Bildnachweis_Senator-für-Wirtschaft-und-Häfen-KopieThe author was born in Bremerhaven in 1976 and has been a member of the Sen­­ate of the Free Hanseatic city of Bremen since 2010. Since June 2011, he has been working in the dual role of Senator for Economy, Employ­­ment and Ports as well as Senator for Justice and Constitutional Affairs. Martin Günth­­ner previously worked as a self-em­­ployed com­­muni­­ca­­tions and PR consultant.