Prof. Dr. Dr. Mario Tobias: Opportunities for innovative minds in the economic region Potsdam

Theodor Fontane once wrote “I travelled through the Mark and found it richer than I dared to hope …”. This impression seems to last to this day, also regarding the competencies and potentials of Brandenburg.


The state of Brandenburg was rewarded “Region of Excel­­lence” and “European Entrepreneurial Region” by the European Union in 2011. The diversity and combination of scientific institutions and innovative businesses have made significant contributions to this. Science and research are the strengths and growth factors. The high number of small and medium-sized companies provides very flexible application and implementation partners. These are the cornerstones of the innovation location Brandenburg. The technology transfer from science to economy is actively pursued and supported by regional economic stakeholders, universities and promotion measures.
Therefore, the region has a broad scientific basis for innovative developments. The capital region has the densest research landscape in Germany and thus can also score on an European level. More than 40 scientific facilities in Potsdam alone are active in top-level research. Approxi­mately. 25,000 students of the University of Potsdam, Brandenburg and Potsdam Universities of Applied Sciences and “Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf” offer considerable potential for the future. The Pots­­dam-Golm Science Park in particular combines expertise and offers young, innovative and technology-oriented companies a favourable environment.

The information and communication technology sector is strongly represented in the state capital of Potsdam and is considered to be the driving force behind innovations. Nearly 80 per cent of all innovations – including in the traditional application sector – are already IT-based. They permeate the industry and thus play an important role in the structural change of the region and the modernisation of the economy. The business region Potsdam is able to attract people with many very innovative, technology-­oriented, internationally successful and award winning companies.

The state is also considered to be the birthplace of traditional sectors: the city of Rathenow – the cradle of the German optical industry – for example, celebrates its 800th anniversary this year. Beginning with Otto Lilienthal’s flight tests in Stölln, the capital region Berlin-Brandenburg became a central location of the aerospace industry. Today’s studio Babelsberg provided the film location for one of the most important works of the cinematic history: the monumental film “Metropolis”. From Oscar to “Palme d’Or”: Babelsberg has become an integral part of all international movie awards. Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce, Bombardier, MTU: other renowned brands, in the metal processing sector, for example, have assumed leading positions. They successfully mastered the transformation after the reunification and are now among the individual sectors that provide the most jobs in the manufacturing industry. Brandenburg is also the leading state when it comes to the wood processing industry. It is the home of world market leaders for parquet flooring, such as Classen Industries in Baruth and Kronotex in Heiligengrabe.

The “ProIndustrie” action plan – a policy framework that was agreed upon by Brandenburg’s state ministries for the further development of the industry adopted in 2012 – was an important and positive signal for strengthening Brandenburg’s economy. Oberhavel and Teltow-Fläming, two of the most dynamic districts of Eastern Germany are located in our region. Industrial beacons such as Takeda or ZF Friedrichshafen make significant investments in the economic location Brandenburg and are an important pillar in the state. The proximity of the other state became one of the most important location factors for both Berlin and Brandenburg. The German capital region is now considered to be among the most dynamic economic regions in Europe. The geographic location enables central access to all important transport routes between Baltic Sea and Adriatic Sea and to growth markets in Central and Eastern Europe as well as to the economic centres in Western Europe. The heart of Berlin-Branden­burg’s logistics are the three freight transport centres and excellent connections to road, rail, air, water and public transport. They are integral parts of the European transportation chains. The transport infrastructure has been continuously modernised and adjusted to the requirements in the past 25 years.

While Berlin is considered to be an attractive sales market as well as an international and political centre, Brandenburg scores with strategically excellent and affordable real estate and areas for settlement, attract­ive financing offers and a well developed infrastructure. The “Glasfaser 2020” (fibreglass 2020) concept to establish a comprehensive fibre-optic grid has been pursued since 2013. Brandenburg also undertakes significant efforts for a comprehensive supply with high-capacity broadband connections. This is an important impetus for the economic growth and increasing prosperity.

Brandenburg utilises the advantages and cooperates with Berlin as a economic and innovation region on the basis of nearly 80 joint administrative agreements. A joint innovation strategy of the states Berlin and Brandenburg (innoBB) creates the foundation of the innovation-oriented cooperation. Five transregional clusters – energy technology, healthcare industries, information and communication technology/media and creative industry, transport/mobility/logistics and optics – and the four Brandenburg’s clusters food industry, plastics/chemical, metal and tourism have been established. All of them reflect high-growth sectors in the capital region. The goal of the defined innoBB strategy is a transregional promotion of the established clusters and thus the relevant value-added chains and the positioning of Berlin-Brandenburg at the top, also when it comes to international competition. The regional innovation strategy is an important component to achieve Smart Specialisation required by the European Union. The cluster strategy has been supplemented by 15 regional growth centres that consider the regional disparities in Brandenburg. This is to master structural challenges, such as healthcare provision.

With the state capital of Potsdam, Brandenburg has its think tanks that represent the following areas: film and media, a broad service sector, high tech, life science, healthcare industry, research and science. At the same time, Potsdam also provides inspiration and world heritage that has a high appeal for creative minds and much space for sports, art and nature. Along with the continuously growing state capital, the culture landscape in the Mark provides comprehensive space with many attractions that offer a large number of options for leisure time and relaxation.

We know and take advantage of it, adjust our work to it, support our around 75,000 member companies from all sectors with it and represent their interests. We want to provide an innovative economy in the strong location Brandenburg.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Mario Tobias
The professional career of Mario Tobias began 1997 in the urban land-use planning. He assumed the position as division manager in the area of environment and disposal at the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitkom) in 2000. In 2005, he was appointed as a member of the executive management of this largest IT association in Europe. In his position as general secretary, he expanded the “Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies”, founded by Prof. Klaus Töpfer, from 2011. He has been chief executive of the Chambers of Industry and Commerce in Potsdam since autumn 2014.