Best of 2020

December 2020

Throughout 2020, this website featured more than 350 articles and videos about Germany as a business and high-tech location. Below is a list so that you can catch up on anything you might have missed.

Naturally, from March onwards, news about the corona pandemic dominated. We reported on the German government’s action to mitigate corona’s economic impact and to aid the development of tests, vaccines and therapies. It was a special joy to pass on news about the work of German biotech and medical researchers, which culimated with the approval of the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine late in the year.

We repeatedly surveyed the effects of the pandemic on the most important industrial sectors, identifying those areas that bucked the trend and benefitted from the new realities of corona. We also wrote about how Germany’s response to the pandemic further bolstered its reputation abroad.

In part thanks to the unbroken esteem, a number of international companies pushed ahead with expansions to Germany despite the pandemic. In addition to numerous smaller projects, revolutionary American carmaker Tesla is building its first European gigafactory near Berlin at record speed, while Chinese company SVOLT is establishing a massive battery factory in the southwest German state of Saarland.

We also devoted great attention to Germany’s fight against climate change, from the government’s proclamation of a new national and European green hydrogen strategy to advances in electromobility and renewables.

Morevoer, we were pleasantly surprised by the large number of innovative German start-ups whose groundbreaking ideas attracted hundreds of millions of euros in investment despite the economic turbulence. Artificial intelligence and digitization were two of the main trends we identified here.

Finally, we also highlighted the business opportunities available in several German regions that are, for various reasons, undergoing major structural transformations.

We hope that you will discover some interesting articles you missed in the list of links below and that you’ll take the opportunity to revisit reports you enjoyed reading.

© Pixabay

DECEMBER

Biodiversity and Zoonoses: German Efforts to Prevent the Next Pandemic

One of the lessons we should learn for the post-corona era is that outbreaks of disease and even pandemics go hand in hand with increased destruction of nature.

Germany Sets Renewables Record in 2020

According to calculations made by two of Germany’s leading energy groups, wind, solar, biomass and other regenerative energy sources will cover more than 46 percent of the country’s energy needs in 2020.

Brexit: US Banks Transfer Huge Sums from London to Frankfurt

Several US banks have decided to bolster their presence in the German financial capital.

Startups Close 2020 with Strong Financing

Amidst the continuing turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic in late 2020, a number of German startups had remarkable success raising capital. Here are five fledgling firms that attracted significant investments.

© Forschungszentrum Jülich

NOVEMBER

German Supercomputer Sets Pace in Europe

Juwel is German for jewel, and the new JUWELS Booster Module supercomputer at the Jülich Forschungszentrum (Research Center) certainly is a gem.

Chinese Billions for German Battery Plant

Chinese battery manufacturer SVOLT Energy Technology Company is establishing a new two-billion-euro facility for producing cobalt-free lithium-ion batteries in the German state of Saarland.

Hitting the Gas: H2 Is the Future

With billions of euros in government investment and ample infrastructure already in place, Germany’s hydrogen sector is the next big thing. Foreign investors are actively encouraged to join the country’s hydrogen revolution. 

Germany: Ripe for Investment

GTAI’s new report on foreign direct investment shows that Germany remains a top destination for global investors.

Frank Sportolari, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany © AmCham Germany, Jan Zappner/Raum 11

OCTOBER

„Stability, Geography, Education Make Germany So Attractive“

Interview with Frank Sportolari, President of the AmChamGermany

The Brexit Effect

Increasing numbers of British companies are setting up new bases in Germany in order to maintain an all-important foothold in the European Union. There has been a surge in the number of companies wishing to extend trademarks and patents into the trade bloc.

Germany Stays Top of “Nation Brand” Ranking

Germany leads the pack in the 2020 Anhalt Ipsos Nation Brands Index (NBI). It’s the fourth straight year and the sixth time overall that Germany topped the annual ranking of fifty countries by the French market research group.

Germany Sets Yearly Solar Power Record

German energy provider Eon says that since the beginning of the year solar energy facilities have fed some 43 billion kilowatt hours of electricity into the national grid. That’s already around one billion kilowatt hours more than in all of 2019 and enough to cover the electricity needs of all private households in Germany twofold.  

US Companies Impressed with German Corona Response

Germany’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic has bolstered the country’s standing among its American economic partners. In the 2020 edition of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany’s annual list of the top 50 US companies in Germany, US businesspeople give the country a grade of 1.8 as a business location. That’s higher than last year.

Medtecs Head List of German Start-Up Financing Winners

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, some companies managed to buck the trend and reel in some serious capital. Not surprisingly, they were led by medtechs, including the two firms widely known for working on Covid-19 vaccines.

Public German Insurers Accept Apps

October 6, 2020 will go down a watershed in the German healthcare system, as for the first time public insurers approved reimbursement to patients for apps prescribed by their doctors.

“Corona Winners” in Germany (VIDEO)

Some six months into the corona pandemic, the value of resilience is growing ever clearer. In our new video, we look at sectors of German business that represent opportunities amid this most disruptive crisis. Whether its telemedicine, fintech or pharmaceuticals, some clever entrepreneurs are turning the social change wrought by Covid-19 to their advantage.

Opportunity from Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has created new arenas and chances for investors interested in German businesses. The openings are particularly apparent in robotics, 3D printing, data protection and e-learning.

Covid Crisis Has Accelerated Progress

Thomas Jarzombek, the Ministry for Economic Affairs’ commissioner for the digital industry and start-ups, says that despite the severe downturn resulting from the corona pandemic, many start-ups have rallied. Furthermore, some new businesses are directly profiting from the new realities created by the crisis demands.

Medtech: Covering an Exploding Market

Germany’s market for medical technology – worth EUR 38 billion in 2019 – was already one of the largest in the world before the coronavirus. But the arrival of Covid-19 brought exponential growth in demand for German medical solutions.

German Pharma Shifts Gear

In the global race to deal with Covid-19, Germany’s extensive network of pharmaceutical companies are involved in major international collaborations and are benefiting from generous government support. German pharma is driving digitalization forward.

Doctors on Call

Telemedicine in Germany has made the leap from maybe-someday to must-have, and the sector continues to evolve at “corona crisis speed.”

Fintech’s Role in Germany’s Recovery

The coronavirus has had a major impact on all aspects of the German economy, but for the fintech sector in particular, the challenges created by the pandemic are quickly turning into opportunities.

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SEPTEMBER

Germans Smartening Up Their Homes

Smart Homes are growing in popularity in Germany, found a study commissioned by the country’s digital industry organization bitkom.

Tesla Gigafactory Sets New Construction Speed “Record”

US electric carmaker Tesla has gotten off to a flying start in its goal of completing its first European “gigafactory” in Grünheide near Berlin.

British Finding Germans “Do It Better”

There may be a whiff of Monty Python absurdity about the situation, but as the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union at the end of 2020, the British have rarely held the EU’s largest member state, Germany, in higher regard.

German Hydrogen Commissioner: „This is about establishing an integrated, systematic solution“

Markets Germany spoke to Dr. Stefan Kaufmann, Innovation Commissioner for Green Hydrogen at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research about Germany’s unique approach to hydrogen.

Germany’s Fastest Growing Start-Ups

Which sectors are best negotiating corona-related business challenges in Germany? One good indication is Business Insider newspaper’s list of the country’s 100 fastest growing start-ups.

Hyundai Comes to Bavaria

South Korea’s Hyundai Robotics has opened up its first Continental European office in Ismaning, just north of Munich.

Funding Bonanza for Auxmoney

Düsseldorf fintech start-up Auxmoney landed the coup of 2020 thus far in early September, raking in EUR 150 million in financing from New York VC fund Centerbridge.

Groundbreaking ceremony © HORIBA Fuelcon

AUGUST

Japanese Power in Saxony-Anhalt

Japanese battery and fuel-cell specialist HORIBA Fuelcon is investing EUR 30 million in expanding the Technologiepark Ostfalen technology center in Barleben in the eastern German state of Saxony Anhalt.

Czech Online Supermarket Expands to Germany

One of the winners from the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic in Germany are online food delivery services. So it’s no surprise that online supermarket Rohlik from the Czech Republic is setting up shop in its larger neighbor.

Galluping Ahead

The renowned American pollster Gallup says that German leadership draws higher approval than that of any other country in the world.

Windfall for Omio

The travel industry has been very hard hit by the corona pandemic and its various restrictions. But Berlin start-up Omio is bucking the trend in a big way. The travel platform has just taken in EUR 100 million in additional venture capital from investors including Goldman Sachs.

GAIA-X – Germany and France Create European Data Ecoysystem

The Franco-German Gaia-X cloud services infrastructure project represents the starting point of a European data ecosystem capable of competing with the world’s big cloud players.

Gaming Industry in Time of Corona

Video games have been recommended by the World Health Organization as one way of potentially combatting the effects of lockdown and social distancing. 

Learning to Love Robots

The self-evolving cyborg intent on destroying humankind is a staple of classic sci-fi films like Terminator. But while malleability and extreme efficiency are characteristics of real-life robots, malevolence is not – as Germany’s billion-euro robotics industry illustrates.

The founders of Trade Republic (from left to right): Marco Cancellieri, Christian Hecker and Thomas Pischke © Trade Republic

JULY

Fintech High Flyer

As rises go, Trade Republic’s truly deserves the sobriquet “meteoric.”

Cancer Self-Defense Discovery

Genetics researchers at the University of Bayreuth have discovered a natural process that protects healthy human cells from attacks by harmful cancerous ones.

Ten-in-One Electric Vehicle

eBussy is a small, modular electric vehicle that can be reassembled into pick-up trucks, capers and vans of no fewer than ten different shapes and sizes. What’s more, the steering column can be slid back and forth for both right- and left-hand-side driving.

Germany’s Medical and Research Actors Respond to Corona Crisis

The German medtech market is the largest in Europe, with record spending of around EUR 38 billion in 2019. With increased demand being created by the Covid-19 pandemic, this figure will be surpassed in 2020 and subsequent years.

‘The crisis will be temporary’

GTAI’s head of investor consulting, Achim Hartig, spoke to Alex Irwin-Hunt from the Financial Times‘ fDi Intelligence about how Germany is doing amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Digital Payment Usage Up as Germans Forego Cash in Corona Crisis

The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the trend towards cashless payments. Almost half of Germans have changed their payment behaviors in response to the global pandemic.

Logistics in Germany Rises to Covid-19 Challenge

The slowdown of the global economy and the disruption of supply chains is causing economic challenges unthinkable a short time ago. Germany’s logistics sector shows its flexibility.

Siemens: “Hydrogen is the future for CO2-free provision of energy”

Markets Germany had the chance to put a number of questions about hydrogen to Armin Schnettler, CEO of New Energy Business at Siemens Energy, who sees bright things ahead for H2 in Germany and elsewhere.

German Pharmaceuticals Booming During Corona

Global exports may be down because of the various restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, but 2020 is shaping up to be an excellent year for German pharmaceutical companies.

Effects of Corona on Germany’s E-Commerce Market

Some online retailers have had to struggle with significant supply chain difficulties, while others have been unprepared for the sudden and dramatic increase in demand.

Online Fraud Detector

Online retail has been booming as a result of coronavirus lockdowns – and with it fraud and copyright infringement. German start-up Sentryc offers a  potential remedy.

Germany – 3D Printing Powerhouse

The European Patent Office (EPO) puts Germany at the top of Europe and second in world in the future-oriented sector of additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3D printing.

Digital- Environmental Agenda

This spring, the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety published a catalogue of 70 measures it touted as the world’s first-ever digital-environmental agenda.

solarisBank CEO Dr. Roland Folz © solarisBank

JUNE

EUR 60 Million for German Fintech solarisBank

Berlin fintech start-up solarisBank has booked a cool EUR 60 million in its latest round of financing. The company, which was founded in 2016, has taken in more than EUR 160 million from investors.

Germany Amps Up Domestic Battery Production

The German government is investing more than EUR 1.5 billion in battery cell research and production – a key element in the country’s planned transition to clean energy and mobility.

Sowing the Seeds of Innovation

The market for agricultural technology and innovation in Germany is growing, driven by digital transformation and global factors such as climate change and population increases. Smart farming can have a big impact on productivity and efficiency – especially for smaller farms.

Networker-in-Chief

Jochen Homann is the president of the Bundesnetzagentur, the national agency responsible for regulating, among other things, Germany’s telecommunications industry. He talks to Markets Germany about the opportunities and challenges presented by 5G.

Germany’s Drive Toward Electric Vehicles (VIDEO)

The trend is clear – all of Germany’s big carmakers are going electric. No wonder that Germany is expected to overtake China as the world’s leading EV producer. And now Tesla’s coming as well.

What’s ‘Small Talk’ in German?

Germans have a reputation for being scientific but rather humorless. But is this ­cultural stereotype true? Fiona Evans, U.S. consul general in Düsseldorf, considers the relationship between her countrymen and their German business partners.

German Government Invests Big in CureVac

The federal government in Germany is putting up EUR 300 million to acquire a 23 percent share of biotech company CureVac.

Germany Announces Billion-Euro Hydrogen Strategy

The country’s governing cabinet has agreed a plan aimed at massively increasing environmentally produced “green hydrogen” energy both domestically and abroad.

Germany in World Start-Up Top 5

Germany is among the best places to be for start-ups – that’s the conclusion of the mapping and networking platform Startup Blink’s annual ranking.

Medicinal Properties

Thanks to regulatory changes, Germany is now the third-largest market for medical cannabis in the world. There are lots of legitimate opportunities for international investors in this lucrative growth market, from growing to ready-made medications.  

The New British Invasion

The number of companies from the UK expanding to Germany hit an all-time record in 2019. GTAI Expert Richard Todd discusses why.

Pushing the Pace of E-Mobility

Political pressure and concerns about climate change are transforming Germany’s automotive sector from the wheels up. This major cross-sector upheaval has created unparalleled investment opportunities.

Tesla Coming to Germany

The first 100,000 Tesla EVs that are made in Germany are scheduled to roll out of the American company’s new “Gigafactory Europe“ in Brandenburg by July 2021. So what was behind CEO Elon Musk’s decision to start manufacturing in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, just outside Berlin?

©Pixabay

MAY

Monitoring Money Laundering

One problem faced by today’s banks is false alarms about money laundering. German start-up Hawk AI offers help in the form of artificial-intelligence software that can spot illegal practices with greater accuracy.

Germany Named Top Inward Foreign Investment Country

Site Selection magazine has named Germany the world‘s best country to invest in, ahead of the United Kingdom and Australia. And Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) was chosen as the second best national agency for international investment behind our colleagues from Ireland

From Grey to Green

Essen in North Rhine-Westphalia was once the epicenter of the coal and steel industries in Germany. Today, the Ruhr region is powering Germany’s energy revolution, and Essen’s green energy cluster has become a hotspot for innovative energy solutions.

German Ministry Invests Record Sum in Corona Vaccine Development

Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research is putting up to EUR 750 million into national efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine. This money comes on top of what Germany is already investing in international efforts to come up with a vaccine.

3D Printing from Australia: Expansion to Germany in Times of Corona

Australian maker of 3D printers SPEE3D hasn’t let the Covid-19 pandemic hinder the founding of a German subsidiary. And the company may have an ace up its sleeve.

New Corona Antibody Test Made in Germany “99.8 Percent Accurate”

Researchers in Penzberg, Bavaria have developed the test for Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche that is being hailed as a “milestone” in the fight against the corona-virus.

GTAI: First Contact for Investment in Germany

Markets Germany talks to Silvia Obajdin and Alexander Walter from the team of specialist advisors at GTAI’s Invest Support Services

© YanLev-istock.com

APRIL

Corona: Massive Increase in Germany‘s Faith in Science During Crisis

One consequence of the coronavirus pandemic is a huge rise in Germans’ trust in scientists and researchers. That’s the conclusion of a “Corona Special” study carried out by the “Wissenschaft im Dialog” initiative with support from the Robert Bosch Foundation and the Fraunhofer Society.

Corona: German Startups Defying the Crisis and Raising Money

The corona lockdown in Germany has hit smaller businesses particularly hard, but as the German edition of Business Insider recently researched, a surprising number of fledgling companies are bucking the trend and attracting millions in investment capital.

From Farmland to Healthcare

The area around the town of Anklam in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is traditionally agricultural. Now, healthcare companies from Germany and abroad are discovering the benefits of the northern German location.

German Pharma and the Corona Crisis

With the entire world looking for responses to the coronavirus pandemic, Germany’s pharmaceutical companies are attracting considerable attention. We asked Han Steutel, the president of the German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, for an update on the progress in developing anti-corona medications.

© Pixabay

MARCH

Germany Starts Unlimited Relief Program for Corona-Hit Firms

German government ministries and a state bank have commenced a “Special Plan 2020” to save companies from bankruptcy because of the virus.

Germany Devotes €150 Million to Connect Research Hospitals into Anti-Corona Network

The country’s many centers of research excellence will now be centrally linked to speed efforts to combat the pandemic.

Germany Announces €2 Billion Startup “Booster” to Combat Coronavirus Impact

The German government is readying a massive cash injection to help innovative young companies ride out economic difficulties.

Back from the Edge

Like many regions, northern Bavaria faced challenging changes after German reunification. However, the traditional ceramics industry survived by playing to its strengths and is now attracting investors from America and Japan.

Germany’s E-Mobile Valley

The automotive metropolis of Stuttgart is spearheading a shift from gasoline and diesel toward electricity and hydrogen. Companies from the field of e-mobility can capitalize on the restructuring that is taking place in Baden-Württemberg, for example as suppliers to car makers.

German Firms Fighting Covid-19

German companies are at the heart of the emergency development of potential coronavirus vaccines. That’s no accident considering Germany’s importance in both the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. Germany Trade & Invest Director of Chemicals and Health Marcus Schmidt gives us the lowdown on this crucial area. 

Germany’s Brand Value

Germany is, of course, Europe’s largest economy, but it’s also a brand – with a specific intrinsic worth.

Chemical Attraction

Germany’s chemicals sector is the largest in Europe and also one of the most innovative in the world. While its strength lies in producing basic chemicals efficiently, it also has a few lucrative secrets up its sleeve.

Green Search Engine Now on Google

Berlin start-up Ecosia, which has developed the world’s first ecological search engine, is now playing in the big leagues. That’s after Internet giant Google announced it was adding Ecosia as a default setting on its search bar alongside Google Search, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Yahoo.

States of Flux

Thirty years after German reunification, many regions in eastern Germany are still undergoing structural change. The economy in the West is also changing, for a variety of reasons. On the upside, these developments provide promising opportunities for foreign companies.

Structural Change = Creative Solutions

Structural change in Germany offers foreign investors a myriad of opportunities. Marco Wanderwitz, the Federal Government Commissioner for the New Federal States, explains how the state supports foreign direct investment.  

Lightweight Engineering in Germany (VIDEO)

Germany is a world leader in lightweight construction and engineering. And that is generating opportunities and innovation in engineering, materials technology, design and services.

Incentives: Let It Grow

Project financing incentives are available to all investors and are provided by the German government, the federal states, and the E.U. to support business growth. Germany Trade & Invest advises large companies (turnover €50m+) and SMEs.

Travel Tech’s New Frontier

Germany has Europe’s largest and most competitive travel sector with a high outbound share. Travel technology start-ups are setting up camp around the country, while Berlin boasts its first travel tech unicorn.

Model of the Gigafactory Brandenburg © Tesla

FEBRUARY

TESLA in Germany (VIDEO)

Stefan di Bitonto, expert for the automotive industry at Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) talks about TESLA in Germany

Big German Words (VIDEO)

New legislation has the German government injecting some €90bn into special project areas and makes it easier for companies to employ specialists in Germany.  

AI Boom in Germany

The number of German artificial-intelligence start-ups rose last year by 62 percent, and the vast majority of the fledgling businesses were founded in Berlin and Munich, with 86 and 57 companies respectively. That was the conclusion reached by the Applied AI Initiative at the Entrepreneurs’ Center of the Technical University of Munich.

Cool Idea

A Berlin-based start-up called Coolar has come up with a solution for reducing our footprint at home: a fridge that uses warmth rather than electricity.

Introducing de:hubs

Unlike centralized Silicon Valley, there are twelve separate digital hubs (“de:hubs”) in Germany. Here, foreign founders and investors find the perfect mix of sustainable networks, excellent research facilities, established economies and innovative startups.

Ending Food Waste

Germany’s Agricultural and Food Minister Julia Klöckner has set a goal of reducing food waste by half by the year 2030.

Going Heavy in Lightweight

Germany’s expertise in lightweight engineering, design and services is generating exciting new opportunities and innovations in manufacturing, construction and other industries.

Taking Off in Eastern Germany

The Sierra Nevada Corporation chose Saxony for a EUR 400 million investment to build short-haul passenger aircraft.

 

Brandenburg Gate © Pixabay

JANUARY

30 Years after Berlin Wall, German East Up to Western Economic Standards

Three decades on from communism, the economy in Germany’s post-Communist east is comparable to that in much of Western Europe.

Bloomberg Index: Germany Most Innovative Nation Worldwide

Germany is the most innovative nation in the world according to the 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index.  Last year’s winner South Korea falls into second place after a drop in productivity.

Germany Welcomes Tesla Gigafactory to Berlin-Brandenburg Location

Political and business leaders have hailed Elon Musk’s announcement that EV giant Tesla will build its European plant just outside Berlin.

Sun Power on Wheels

An all-electric car with solar panels: Munich-based start-up Sono Motors has designed a car with 248 solar panels embedded into its roof, hood, rear and sides, which can provide enough electricity per day for 34km of no-cost, zero emissions driving.

Star Struck

Need a rocket engine? Munich start-up Isar Aerospace Technologies, founded last year, has set its sights high – it aims to become ‘Europe’s SpaceX.’

World’s Best Brands

Eleven of the world’s most valuable 100 brand names come from Germany. That’s according to the 2019 rankings by international consultancy firm Interbrand.