International Companies Are Spoiled For Choice in Germany

Oliver Seiler is director of mechanical and electronic technologies at Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI). He explains how GTAI supports international businesses in choosing a location to support their expansion plans.

February, 2023

Oliver, Germany’s economic structure with its multiple decentralized locations and industry clusters can initially seem confusing to foreign investors. How can GTAI help?

Oliver Seiler: It’s usually the case that companies, especially in the high-tech sector, have very specific requirements for a location. That’s why we as the German government’s international business promotion agency always look for suitable sites throughout the country based on the individual, specific needs of the respective companies. With the German economic landscape changing very dynamically and new industrial centers and clusters constantly emerging, it’s important for businesses to have a partner who’s aware of the latest developments.

How exactly does the search process work?

Oliver Seiler: First, we talk to the companies to find out what combination of location factors is decisive for them. Do they need a particularly large site? Is the connection and proximity to certain markets or business partners important? How about the energy supply or access to special sources of financing, sector-specific know-how or skilled workers? We use this information to draw up a project profile.

So, this information forms the basis for a site search?

Oliver Seiler: Yes, exactly. Our next step is to contact the economic promotion agencies of the considered regional states to find suitable industrial clusters, business parks and sites for the business expansion project. Then, we make a preliminary selection which we present to the companies. They are often surprised at how many suitable locations we can offer. In Germany, you can find something that matches every need, often several alternatives. International investors are spoiled for choice here.

How long does this process take?

Oliver Seiler: We know that speed is of the essence. In the case of a large high-tech expansion project to Germany last year, we managed to collect ten suitable offers within just three days.

What happens next?

Oliver Seiler: Once the company has selected one or more locations from our shortlist, we establish contact with local business promoters, service providers and business partners and organize on-site visits. In this way, the companies quickly find out whether and how they can go about implementing their projects. And they can clarify directly with the local contacts whether, for example, the municipalities are prepared to make additional land available or to invest in the further expansion of the infrastructure, if necessary.

What factors are the most decisive in the selection process?

Oliver Seiler: That depends. But we have noticed that the topics of renewable energy and supply of raw materials are currently very important for many companies when deciding where to locate. Not just the supply of electricity, but water supply, sustainable waste disposal and recycling structures for critical raw materials.