Great Lesser-Known Locations in Germany

Growth Opportunities

February, 2023


  • INHABITANTS:  21,844
  • REGIONAL STATE:  Schleswig-Holstein
  • SPECIAL FEATURES:  This northern coastal region offers plenty of open space and direct access to renewable energy from offshore wind farms.
  • PARTICULARLY SUITABLE FOR: Cleantech companies and energy-intensive businesses looking to decarbonize production

The northern region is working to make renewable energy 100 percent available to businesses. To this end, more than a hundred national and international partners from science, industry, agriculture and the service sector are cooperating in Heide on projects to decarbonize industry and transport. “We are working to establish a Clean Energy Valley here,” explains Dirk Burmeister, CEO of the Heide Development Agency.

Swedish Northvolt intends to build a battery factory for electric cars in Heide. The Swiss building materials manufacturer Holcim plans to build its first decarbonized cement plant on the German coast. And French energy giant EDF wants to produce green hydrogen (H2) here with its subsidiary Hynamics. To this end, it’s entering into a joint venture with the Danish wind power specialist Ørsted and the Heide refinery, which belongs to the British raw materials group Klesch. Together they want to build a wind-powered electrolysis plant for the production of H2. Business goes where it can find a secure supply of green energy, “but it’s equally important to be able to offer a whole ecosystem of sustainable suppliers and business partners,” explains Burmeister.

Photo: Holcim/Press


  • INHABITANTS: nearly 120,000
  • SPECIAL FEATURES: Bremen’s smaller sister city Bremerhaven operates one of the largest container ports in Europe with production areas in the immediate vicinity.
  • PARTICULARLY SUITABLE FOR: Companies from the renewables sector, logistics companies, food industry and start-ups

The traditional maritime city is now focused on becoming a “science city.” That means companies settling on Germany’s north coast can benefit not only from excellent port infrastructure but also from the renowned Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology, the Institute for Maritime Transport and Logistics and the various institutes of the local university.

Bremerhaven is also pursuing the goal of becoming a leading test hub and center of excellence for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

Photo: BIS Wirtschaftsförderung/Wolfhard Scheer


  • INHABITANTS: 58,244
  • REGIONAL STATE: Lower Saxony
  • SPECIAL FEATURES: Direct access to wind power from the coast
  • PARTICULARLY SUITABLE FOR: Energy-intensive companies

The industrial park in Lingen offers large, contiguous industrial sites, primarily for companies in the energy sector or that produce energy-intensive goods: chemicals, metals and mechanical engineering. More than 3,800 firms work in Lingen and ensure a diverse and balanced economic structure. To supply these companies with a regular flow of green hydrogen (H2), two international energy companies, BP and Ørsted, are partnering with other firms to build a 50-megawatt electrolysis plant. Renewable electricity from Ørsted’s North Sea wind plant is to be used for this.

The state-of-the-art plant will be capable of producing a ton of renewable H2 per hour, some of which will be refined on site into fuel. This could replace around 20 percent of the H2 the refinery currently produces from natural gas. The plant will be commissioned in 2024, and in phase two, an electricity output of 150 MW is planned. In the long term, BP’s goal is to replace all the fossil-generated hydrogen at the Lingen refinery and thus contribute to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions in fuel production. In addition, German energy company RWE is planning to build an electrolysis test plant for the production of green hydrogen. The Lingen site plays a key role in RWE’s hydrogen strategy.

Photo: Industriepark Linken/PR


  • INHABITANTS: 9,185 (Barleben)/just under 236.188 (Magdeburg)
  • REGIONAL STAT: Saxony-Anhalt
  • SPECIAL FEATURES: A technology park is being set up in the area near the city of Magdeburg for development as an “e-mobility campus.” Magdeburg University of Applied Sciences is establishing its research center for sustainable drive technologies there.
  • PARTICULARLY SUITABLE FOR: Companies from the mobility sector, industry and logistics

Around 140 companies have already settled in the Barleben Industrial Park. Plans are now underway to establish an e-mobility campus and a Center for Method Development (CMD) at the University of Magdeburg. The CMD Magdeburg sets new standards for development methods in drive and vehicle development. As early as 2023, up to 50 engineers across disciplines will establish new virtual R&D methods and processes here.

In future, the center will have several test benches and laboratories for electric, hydrogen and hybrid drives. For example, the operating and ageing behavior of batteries will be investigated. The future fuel cell (FC) system laboratory will focus on optimizing the complex FC systems in the car, including air supply and water management. The Saxony-Anhalt Ministry of Economics is providing the university with a total of EUR 31 million for the CMD, of which EUR 20 million from the European Regional Development Fund.

Photo: FuelCon AG, Andreas Lander


  • INHABITANTS: 354,572
  • REGIONAL STATE: North Rhine-Westphalia
  • SPECIAL FEATURES: Traditional industrial location that is transforming regional value chains to fit the circular economy
  • PARTICULARLY SUITABLE FOR: Start-ups, investors and companies interested in projects implementing the circular economy

The “Circular Valley” in Wuppertal is set to become an international center for the regenerative economy. With universities, research centers and industrial companies from all sectors, including the recycling pioneers Remondis and DSD (Duales System Deutschland), the metropolitan area is equipped to achieve its ambitions. The initiative¬ extends across the entirety of the Rhine-Ruhr area and even into Belgian Flanders.

The NRW Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the EU support the Circular Valley, as does the French bank Société Générale. Twice a year, start-ups and investors take part in its accelerator program to develop ideas to combine new and old industries and aid the transition towards more sustainable business models. This results in successful collaborations.

Photo: Circular Valley/Presse


  • INHABITANTS: Seven cities, each with between 40,000 and 100,000 residents
  • REGIONAL STATE: Brandenburg
  • SPECIAL FEATURES: The German capital of Berlin is booming, but things are already becoming crowded in the metropolis. The seven towns of what is called Städtekranz (city wreath) in the surrounding regions offer proximity to the capital but at the same time space and development potential as well as access to renewable energy sources. Elon Musk, for example, recently took advantage of this by building his Tesla plant in Brandenburg.
  • PARTICULARLY SUITABLE FOR: Companies seeking proximity to the capital’s start-up scene but needing a large amount of space for their own projects

The cities of Brandenburg an der Havel, Cottbus, Eberswalde, Frankfurt (Oder), Jüterbog, Luckenwalde and Neuruppin have joined forces to offer companies in the Berlin area an attractive infrastructure. The medium-sized locations offer a good compromise between big city life and the advantages of a rural setting. Berlin is just around the corner but so is nature.

Being at the center of innovation but still with enough distance from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis is what makes living and working in the seven regional locations so special. A hydrogen network has been set up to supply industrial companies in the region with green hydrogen. Meanwhile, start-up accelerators and technology parks have settled in the city ring around Berlin and form an axis for innovative companies and their research projects.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild POOL/Patrick Pleul


  • INHABITANTS: 72,964
  • REGIONAL STATE: Thuringia
  • SPECIAL FEATURES: The Kyffhäuser District offers large commercial areas that are located at the north-eastern border of Thuringia with direct access to the highway junction of A71 and A38 and the greater Halle/Leipzig urban area.
  • ESPECIALLY SUITABLE FOR: Industrial companies with large scale investment projects of up to 70 hectares.

The Kyffhäuser District is a traditional industrial location with many SMEs focused on metal, electrical and plastics manufacturing. Approximately 4,500 innovative companies, ranging from traditional craft businesses to high-tech companies, form the backbone for a stable economy and labor market. Numerous suppliers to the auto industry have already settled in the area – for example, the auto-maker Mercedes-Benz is operating a plant with about 1,400 employees in the region.

The nearby Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences in combination with Germany’s unique system of dual vocational training ensures a pool of skilled personnel. Modern daycare centers, good schools, numerous healthcare facilities form the foundation for a great living environment for the whole family. The zoning plans have already been approved for the industrial area “Artern Unstrut”. Nearby wind and solar farms provide accress to green energy.

Photo: Susann Nuernberger


  • INHABITANTS: nearly 249.000
  • SPECIAL FEATURES: Chemnitz is a leading research and development location for microsystems technology, sensor technology and the textile industry. It’s also a future location of the HIC – Hydrogen and Mobility Innovation Center, which is a part of the National Hydrogen Center of Germany.
  • PARTICULARLY SUITABLE FOR: Technology-oriented companies from the automotive and supplier industry, mechanical and plant engineering and the textile industry

At the end of the 19th century, Chemnitz was called the “Saxon Manchester,” a comparison with the English industrial powerhouse. Today, it is a modern city with a focus on auto supplier industries, mechanical and plant engineering and IT. With the Smart Systems Campus and the Chemnitz Technology Center, it offers prime conditions for tech-oriented companies, encompassing the expertise of two Fraunhofer institutes with a focus on R&D in production technology and smart systems.

This is complemented by the know-how of the Chemnitz Automated Driving Alliance (CADA), as well as the industrial application-oriented Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI). The HIC is developing into an industrial R&D and certification campus for fuel cells and alternative drives for road and rail.

Photo: HZwo e.V./Thomas Höppner


  • INHABITANTS: 52,969
  • SPECIAL FEATURES: Wetzlar is a traditional location for companies in the optics and electronics industries.
  • PARTICULARLY SUITABLE FOR: Companies in the optics and electronics industries

Central Hessen, the region where the 35mm camera was invented, has created the ideal conditions for local players and foreign investors alike. The unique cooperation between universities and companies in the fields of optics, electronics and mechanics is the key to success. Leading lights from business and science have joined forces to form a powerful optics cluster in western central Germany where collaboration is the key to success. Wetzlar-based companies such as Leica Camera, Leica Microsystems, Buderus, or ZEISS Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (ZEISS SMT) find sales markets all over the world. Many high-performance, medium-sized companies in complementary industries have also settled in the region.

Three universities – Philipps University Marburg, Justus Liebig University Giessen and the Technical University of Applied Sciences Central Hessen (THM) – have professorships in physics and chemistry and offer accredited degree programs ranging from physics to aerospace. As a result, the region has the highest student density in Germany and STEM education is prioritized in Central Hessen (which is home to several science centers), ensuring future generations of skilled professionals. Also, numerous wind and solar parks promote green and sustainable economic growth.

Photo: Leica Camera AG


  • INHABITANTS: 100,0000
  • SPECIAL FEATURES: Companies that settle in and around the northern Bavarian city of Hof benefit from special subsidies from the federal government’s so-called GRW program, which provides grants of up to 45 percent for on-site business investments.
  • PARTICULARLY SUITABLE FOR: Companies from the water supply and wastewater treatment industries, from logistics, automotive, life sciences, textile and plastics processing sectors

The city of Hof can fall back on a long history as a business location. Traditionally, the strongest sectors are the plastics and textile industries, which have driven dynamic business development and future-ready industries and produced a wealth of innovative products. These historical strengths are today enhanced by the modern infrastructure of a forward-looking industrial and service location. The focus on the city’s periphery and surrounding areas is on technological solutions for water and wastewater management.

In total, more than 50 big players in the fields of business, research and institutions are concentrated here: for example, world-leading manufacturers of pumps and pump systems for water supply and wastewater treatment and disposal, manufacturers in the field of polymer-based solutions for water management as well as sealant-free paving made from recycled materials. Bowl technologies for sludge removal developed here are used in water rehabilitation projects all over the world.

In addition, there are service providers in the specialist niches of hydrogeology, water testing and sewage treatment plant planning. Excellent connections to the international transport network and a tight relationship between business and science – especially through the resident University of Applied Sciences – are just some of the advantages that make Hof an interesting location for business and technological innovation. A favorable standard of living and pleasant environment for recreation round off the picture.

Photo: sergeyryzhov/


  • INHABITANTS: about 90,000
  • REGIONAL STATE: Baden-Württemberg
  • SPECIAL FEATURES: University town with more than 28,000 students
  • PARTICULARLY SUITABLE FOR: Companies that want to apply and develop artificial intelligence

Cyber Valley Tübingen is the largest research consortium in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe, connecting projects within the areas surrounding the cities of Tübingen and Stuttgart in southwestern Germany. It is currently developing into a creative hotspot for scientific development and lucrative innovations in the field – and is attracting both large and modestly sized companies both from Germany and abroad.

The research departments of internationally active companies such as Amazon, Bosch, Mercedes, BMW and Porsche conduct research here at renowned R&D centers including the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and the universities of Tübingen and Stuttgart. The multinational engineering and technology conglomerate Bosch, for example, has announced that it will build a new campus in Tübingen to facilitate around 700 AI experts in their research. Amazon has built a research and development center in the area for around 100 employees.

In a new research building with motorized, mobile laboratories that can literally go on the road, automobile companies are planning to develop solutions for autonomous driving, among other things. An excellent regional start-up and investor network exists to provide financial support to international business settlers and young innovative technology and solutions companies. The national and the regional governments jointly support the Cyber Valley AI Competence Center with EUR 20 million annually.

Photo: Cyber Valley Tübingen