Jens Böhrnsen: Bremen 2020 – Green competence centre in the North


In 2009, the Bremen Senate, following a broad public debate and inter-departmen­tal coordination, approved a new guiding principle for urban development which, together with the structural concept, is to constitute the framework for future development for the state of Bremen.

Looking ahead towards the year 2020, Bremen is aiming to achieve its goals of balancing economic, ecological and social development in the state in an innovative, sustained manner combined with municipal common sense.
Bremen in 2020 is to be:
• a green city on the water with consider­
able recreational and environmental
• a city of greater social justice,
• a city that is home to extensive knowledge,
• an attractive and innovative economic
region with a diverse and vital labour
• a city as a good neighbour in the region,
• a city of civic-mindedness and a sense
of mutually developed goals and projects.
As a vibrant, liberal and stable centre, the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen provides a strong impulse to the dynamic and well-networked “Metropo­litan Northwest” – in particular in economic terms.

The dynamic core of Bremen’s economy has always been geared to maritime heritage and has been closely tied to its harbour, trade, seafaring and shipbuilding, supplemented by processing the goods arriving at its port. Foreign trade and harbour-related activities continue to contribute significantly to Bremen’s gross domestic product and are inseparably connected to the state’s political independence.


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Bremen also specifically continues to focus on the service sector, logistics sector, aerospace industry, automotive sector as well as energy sector with a focus on renewable sources of energy. Expanding the technical departments at the state’s universities provides technology companies with their future employees. Transfer potentials from science to business expand the spectrum for local companies.

Bremen is a great place to live and it intends on remaining so – with a high standard of living and as a strong business location. The guiding principle shows the way that Bremen becomes active in promoting and supporting an innovative and sustained economic development. “Nothing works without brilliant minds and innovative ideas.” In transitioning to a global service, inform­­ation and knowledge society, Bremen more than ever before needs qualified specialists and managers at all levels.

Well-educated and trained city resi­dents with strong local ties are absolutely essential for Bremen’s prospering economy. Bremen will therefore continue to place the necessary emphasis on the qualification of highly-skilled workers and thus contribute significantly in drawing companies to the city and strengthening the competitiveness of small and medium-sized businesses.

Bremen will focus its economic policies on strengthening the potential and competence already available at the location as well as on the promotion of inno­vations in growth and future-orien­t­­ed sectors.
Weaknesses that prevent further develop­­ment such as the foreseeable demogra­phic gap for skilled workers, structures that on occasion are still too bureaucratic or con­­ditions which hamper investments are to be consistently minimised simultaneously. Bremen intends on strengthening the tra­­ditional industrial focus and add qua­lity to its further development. Centres for tech­­­nology and knowledge transfer are to be created in selected fields of competence as part of an intensified cooperation between industry, small and medium-sized busines­­s­­es as well as universities and research institutions. This stimulates research and de­­velopment, increases inter­­national competi­­­tiveness and strengthens ties to Bremen as a business location. The regional networks in wind energy, aerospace and mater­­ials re­­search represent exemplary approaches.

The diversification of the industry and sec­­tor structure and the improvement of loca­­tion conditions, in particular for medium-size business sector represent further goals. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) contribute significantly to growth, employment and education/training.

Bremen intends on strengthening the ser­­vices sector by making it a key sector in the knowledge-based economic develop­­ment. This development is to be accom­­pa­­nied by high-quality architecture and desig­­­­n­­ed open spaces. Areas of development in­­­­clude the Überseestadt district, the Air­­port City and Technology Park, the Stephani Quarter, the Science Park and areas in Bremen-North as well as newly created space for the Klinikum Mitte hospital. The service potential includes the very lively creative scene which enjoys considerable image-building and value-added potentials. Bremen wants to support the networking activities within the creative and cultural sectors, strengthen the dialogue bet­­ween “creative” and traditional companies and make the Free Han­seatic City Bremen even more attractive as a location for creative individuals and their companies.

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The port of Bremen represents the backbone of the maritime business, logistics and knowledge landscape. In addition, the location on the water shapes the cityscape and its identity. It is Bremen’s goal to functionally maintain and expand the port’s key economic role while maintaining its accessibility from the sea. Bremen wants to and can – together with the metropolitan region – develop into a pilot logistics region. The retail sector is an important factor in employment, providing supplies to its residents and keeping vital quarters and city centres thriving. Bremen intends on strengthening the city centres and supplies to quarters. Private sector initiatives in the business centres are to be accompanied and supported by the public sector when necessary through new instruments such as the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) or other forms of self-organisation.

Tourism, with its dynamic development over the past years and its excellent pro­­spects for the future, provides a valuable contribution to the city’s structural chan­ges. It also serves, together with culture and sports, as a driving force behind the city’s image.

The environmental sector is one of the inno­vative foundations for Bremen’s economy. It has developed into a high-growth factor, driving job creation over the past years. The “initiative umwelt unternehmen – iuu” (initiative for environment and business) is an excellent factual and organisational framework for continued positive development. Important steps towards networking and knowledge infrastructure have already been undertaken in the particularly important sector of wind energy. WAB, the Wind Energy Agency is the sector’s largest competence centre in Europe and research institutions, such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) in Bremerhaven, can embrace existing and future strengths resulting from the association with a constantly growing number of companies along the entire value add­ed chain to form a new and viable in­dustry and service sector.

This all plays a role in Bremen – together with Bremerhaven – developing into the North’s competence centre for renew­­able energies, efficient energy production and climate protection.

BGM_Boehrnsen_RGB-KopieThe author was born in Bremen in 1949. After having passed his school-leaving examination he studied law in Kiel. In his main occupation, Mr Böhrn­­sen worked as a judge from 1978 to 1995, his last position being a senior judge at the administra­­tive court in Bremen. The Social Demo­­crat has been a member of the city parliament of Bre­­men since 1995 and the president of the senate and mayor of the Free Han­­se­­atic City of Bremen since 2005.