Matthias Platzeck & Klaus Wowereit: Berlin and Brandenburg – Economic dynamism and high quality of life

With close to six million people, Berlin and Brandenburg make up the German capital region. Over the past two decades and beyond, since the peaceful revolution and the fall of the Wall, it has experienced rapid change. After decades of separation, the region has grown to­­gether and has again become the centre of political events and media attention. Thanks to investments in the billions, the infrastructure – railway, roads, tele­com­­munications – was modernised from the ground up. Through a close interconnec­tion between an excellent academic and scientific sector and numerous, mostly young companies, the capital region has developed into a dy­­namic and innovative location in the heart of Europe. Its universities attract talented people from around the world who appreciate not only the cosmopolitan character and econom­ic prospects of the region, but also its high quality of life. The latter is characterised by the cosmopolitan atmosphere of a buzz­­ing metropolis, diverse cultural offer­­ings, and the beauty and recreational possibilities of the Brandenburg countryside.


Strong sunrise industries. Berlin and Brandenburg have set the course for the future. “Strengthening the streng­ths”: this motto, along with well-coordinated action by the key players in business, science and politics, has proved to be the right approach. Four sectors are exem­­plary for their achievements and outstanding future prospects: health, mobi­­­­l­ity, energy and the creative industries.

Health region Berlin-Brandenburg. With 350,000 jobs, the healthcare indus­­try, which cooperates closely within the two states’ healthcare industry innova­tion clus­­ter, numbers among the region’s key economic sectors. This significant life science location is comprised of approx­­i­­mately 250 medical technology and near­­ly 200 biotechnology firms, over 20 pharma­­ceutical companies and approximately 80 hospitals, including internationally renowned facilities such as the Charité, Europe’s largest university hos­­pi­­tal, the Max Delbrück Center for Molec­­ular Me­­dicine, and the German Heart Insti­­tute Berlin. The strong presence of over 20 large research facilities and uni­­versities with relevant research priorities is characteristic for the location, which spans the entire value-added chain in modern life sciences. The benefit of such an envi­­­ronment lies in the extremely short dis­­tances between companies and research facilities, as well as in a dense web of net­­works that continually optimise knowledge transfer. The healthcare industry plays a key role in the common innovation strategy of the states of Berlin and of Brandenburg.



Pioneering a new type of mobility. On 3 June 2012, the new Berlin Brand­­en­burg Airport Willy Brandt will open its doors. It represents the most significant infrastructure project in all of eastern Germany. With the completion of the new airport, the region’s entire air traffic will be concentrated in a single location. For the Berlin Brandenburg capi­tal region, Europe’s most state-of-the-art airport is the new gateway to the world. Numer­­ous international direct connections will shorten travel times considerably and bring the whole region closer to partners on all continents. Even during the era of pioneers like Siemens, Benz and Lilienthal, the momentum for a new type of mobil­­ity came from Berlin. Today, too, strengths in the field of mobility are coming together in the capital region. They range from companies in the aero­­nautic and astronautic industry to the automotive industry (Daimler and BMW), from railway technology (Bombardier and Stadler) to traffic telematics.
With Rolls-Royce Germany and MTU Main­tenance Berlin-Brandenburg, the region has two system leaders with considerable growth potential. Further key compe­tencies are found in the fields of small-aircraft development and production, of maintenance, repair and overhaul, and of testing. Brandenburg-based companies and research facilities are participating in three of four current European large-scale projects. They include the satellite navigation system Galileo and the wide-body aircraft A380 and A400M. If nothing else, the rhythm of the capital region is set by cutting-edge underground, urban and regional trains, which are also produced in Berlin and Brandenburg.

Moreover, ambitious research in the field of battery and storage technologies, as well as several pilot projects, are turning the Berlin/Potsdam region into a forerunner of mobility concepts and setting it on the path to becoming a national showcase for the opportunities offered by electric mobility. The central Berlin Agency for Electromobility was set up by scientists, industrialists and policymakers in order to promote electric mobility in the German capital region. The objective is to turn Berlin into the lead market and lead provider of electric mobility while covering the entire value-added chain for all electric vehicles – from research and development to production to testing and application.


Energy and environmental technology. Brandenburg and Berlin are at the top when it comes to modern energy technologies and are forming a joint energy technology innovation cluster. The capital region brings traditional strengths to that cluster, such as the production of turbo engines, switchgear and converters, but also the new, dynamically growing branches of re­­newable energies, which profit greatly from the close interconnection be­­tween research and science/academ­ics in the region. Approximately 42,000 jobs in around 450 companies in the region highlight the economic significance of the energy sector for Berlin and Branden­burg. Near­­ly one out of two solar mod­­ules is made in the solar factories of Berlin or the “solar capital Frankfurt (Oder)”. Modern energy technologies in Berlin-Brandenburg are located in a high-quality scientific environment. A total of 35 scientific facilities are devoted to ener­­gy-related research and education. Foremost, they include TU Berlin and BTU Cottbus.
Two of the most prominent non-academic re­­search facilities are the Helmholtz Center for Materials and Energy and the GFZ Ger­­man Research Centre for Geo­sciences in Potsdam, which is known around the world not least for the tsunami warning system it developed. In addition, there are renowned universities of applied sciences in the re­­gion, which focus on providing skilled new employees – an important location advantage for the region’s rapidly growing companies.

Creative metropolis. The German capi­­tal region numbers among Europe’s top creative metropolises. Approxi­mately 150,000 people work in over 15,000 firms that cover the entire spectrum of the creative industries. Through Medien­board GmbH, the states of Berlin and Brandenburg are working toge­ther on targeted marketing for the region and on promoting the creative industries.

Approximately 50,000 employees in 5,000 companies based here offer IT solutions for commerce, industry and government, generating a yearly turn­­over of 11.3 billion euros in the re­­gion.



Over 300 films are produced in the capital region every year. Studio Babels­berg in Potsdam goes back more than 100 years and is increasingly utilised by the Hollywood film industry. Lo­cation scouts have discov­ered Berlin and Bran­denburg. The film world meets annually at the Berlinale. Meanwhile, a lively music scene shines far beyond the re­­gion. The Internet eco­­nomy is also gai­­­ning ever-greater inter­­national significance. Approxi­­­­mate­ly 130 game deve­­lopers are active in the capital region, shaping Germany’s dens­­est game cluster. Internationally signif­icant fashion fairs and a young, innova­tive design scene top off the qualities of the creative metropolis.

Berlin-Brandenburg on the upswing at the outset of the 21st century. The Berlin-Brandenburg capital region had a good start into the 21st century. The sunrise industries are developing dynamically and can build on excellent new recruits from the region’s universities. At the same time, the region offers numerous development areas and technology centres for new settlements and innovative ideas. As a trade fair and conference location, it has been gaining significance and international appeal for years now. The German capital re­­gion is also increasingly turning into a tourist magnet with attractive oppurtinities for recreation.

Both states, Berlin and Brandenburg, are cooperating closely to continue maximising the region’s opportunities. The new international airport sym­bol­ises the bundling of strengths: up­­wards of 3 billion euros are being invested in that project by the federal and the Berlin and Brandenburg governments. While the German cap



platzeckThe author was born in Potsdam in 1953 and studied biomedical cybernetics at TH Ilme­nau. From 1982 to 1990, Matthias Platzeck was the head of the environmental health depart­­ment at the Pots­dam office of sani­­tary in­­spec­­tion. From 1990 to 1998, he was the minister for environ­ment, na­­ture con­­ser­vancy and regional planning of the state of Branden­­burg, and from 1998 to 2002, mayor of Potsdam. Since 2002, Matthias Platzeck has been Minister-President of Brandenburg.


110225-Wowereit1-(c)-Senatskanzlei-KopieThe author, born in Berlin in 1953, is a lawyer. From 1984 to 1995, he was the Tempelhof city councillor in charge of education and cultural affairs. In 1995, Klaus Wowereit was elected to the Berlin House of Representatives. From 1999 to 2001, he was the parliamentary SPD chairman. Since 2001, Klaus Wowereit has been Governing Mayor of Berlin.