Hamburg Among the World’s Most Opportunity-Rich Digital Cities

December 2018

‘Hamburg is one of the ten most successful cities worldwide when it comes to luring companies from the digital economy.’ This is the conclusion of the ‘Digital Economy of the Future’ ranking 2018-19, in the Financial Times’ group’s fDi Magazine, a publication themed on foreign direct investment. Hamburg took ninth place in the ‘Settlement Strategy’ category. Hamburg and Frankfurt (ninth in ‘Economic Potential’ category) were the only German cities in the top ten – Dublin, London and Singapore were the overall winners.

Mayor of Hamburg Dr. Peter Tschentscher was delighted at the recognition for his city: „Hamburg saw digitalisation as an opportunity early on,“ he said. “Global leaders in the digital economy such as Adobe, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Hootsuite, Smaato, Snap and Twitch are all running their German operations from Hamburg, which is the city for startups in Germany.”

Hamburg panorama with Elbphilharmonie © Mediaserver Hamburg/ DoubleVision

Hamburg’s Senator for Culture and Media Dr. Carsten Brosda was equally enthusiastic at the result: “In no other city is the digital, media and creative economy so well represented,” he said. “The ranking for Hamburg is a great success, and encourages us to continue to fulfil Hamburg’s potential. The conditions here are superb for innovative companies, shown not just by the success of companies locating here, but also the success of Hamburg companies internationally – such as About You, Xing and mytaxi.”

Hamburg’s success is not solely down to its settlement strategy however. Newly-settled companies are always able to rely upon a multitude of support services from the Hamburg Invest economic development agency as a part of the cluster strategy of the senate. This enables the ‘newbies’ to grow at the location and increases the value created by the city sustainably. A current example is Google’s German headquarters, which started in Hamburg in 2001 with one solitary employee in the office on ABC street. Today there are 600. At the company’s 20th birthday in November 2018, former company chief Eric Schmidt revealed another reason for choosing Hamburg in his celebratory speech: “Salaries are high here, but productivity is higher.” The closeness of the relationship between Google and Hamburg is also to be seen in the name of Google’s holding company, Alphabet, inspired by the name of the Hamburg street in which the company settled, according to Schmidt.

Expo Real fair 2017 in Hamburg © Mediaserver Hamburg/Stefan Groenveld

So it should be no surprise that several noteworthy innovative companies have decided to locate their offices in Hamburg in 2018 as well:


Shortly before entering the German market, Swiss online retailer Galaxus opened its German headquarters in Hamburg. “We mainly chose Hamburg for the recruitment possibilities,” says Galaxus Germany CEO Frank Hasselmann. “The city is very attractive for specialists in e-commerce and media, and we wanted to benefit from that.” The office in Hamburg is initially set up for 40 employees.

Galaxus’ competitor Amazon also opted for Hamburg and opened a logistics centre in Hamburg harbour in 2018. In Winsen, in Hamburg metropolitan area, there was also a logistics centre for northern Europe. More than 2,000 new jobs were created across the two locations. No route in Germany can avoid e-commerce capital Hamburg. The Otto company, second-largest online retailer in Germany after Amazon, has its global headquarters on the banks of the Elbe.

X-Charge Technology

X-Charge Technology, founded in 2015, operates more than 20,000 charging stations in China. Along with the hardware, the company also develops software, such as the operating system and customer app. The company relies on a cloud-based system which also looks after navigation and monitoring. The stations are powered through the 400 volt low-voltage network. X-Charge’s service is especially targeted at companies. The products are available as white label. Automobile constructors, energy providers, city utilities and communal stakeholders are all thus able to offer charging technologies, including billing systems, under one brand. The company fits perfectly into Hamburg and reflects the attractiveness of the start-up, digitalisation and mobility industries all together.


Alphasights is a global information service provider in knowledge networks. The London-based company helps decision-makers in international companies, strategy advisors and investment funds to get relevant expert knowledge quickly and efficiently to support both their decisions and their strategies on helping clients improve competitiveness. Formed in 2008, Alphasights employs around 400 people across eight locations globally.

Nordic Volt

Sweden’s top advertising agency Volt Stockholm has opened an office in Hamburg under the name Nordic Volt. The headquarters, Volt Stockholm is a part of the independent network Creative North, employs around 50 people and operates as an owner-run creative agency for brand strategy and design and communication, counting Peugeot, SCANIA, LIDL and PwC among it cleints. The agency has an excellent reputation across the industry, especially when it comes to employee development.

Scada Minds

Danish company Scada Minds, whose product is a software solution for the wind energy industry, has opened its first office in Germany in Hamburg.

CEO MO Siddiqui says: “The Scada Minds family has grown with the addition of the Hamburg office. We are proud to contribute towards Hamburg becoming a leading place of innovation in Europe. I’d like to thank the team from Hamburg Invest for its support in helping us bring our innovative solution, advanced software and cyber-security consultancy to the city and to get us closer to our German customers.”


Quinyx, a leading Swedish workforce management service provider, has continued its European expansion with the opening of a branch in Hamburg. The company already has more than 500 customers worldwide, some of whom are already working with Quinyx in Germany.

“Quinyx is well-prepared to help German companies utilise the advantages of a mobile-first workforce management solution,” says Maximilian Thost, Country Manager for Germany at Quinyx. “We have a well-developed solution which offers a real alternative to the usual ones. Through our data centre in Germany we offer the kind of data security to German companies they need for their future. Quinyx was designed from the start to be work-union friendly, an aspect of particular importance in Germany.”

Solveig Multimedia

Russian software producer Solveig Multimedia has released its HyperCam version 5.1 onto the German market.

At the same time they opened a branch in Hamburg. HyperCam is a professional screen recording software offering full support in webcam, multi-channel audio recording with mixers, recording of overlay videos, skype, direct film cuts and export in all accessible video formats.


Linkfire, a Danish platform for music marketing and target market analysis, headquartered in Copenhagen, has set up new offices in New York, Los Angeles and now Hamburg.

With this regional and personnel expansion, Linkfire is following its strategy of getting closer to global customers as well as moving into new markets within the music and entertainment industries, although the focus remains on live events.

“Germany is one of the strongest and most exciting markets in the music and media industry,” said Lars Ettrup, CEO.


PHD, an English media agency, has opened an office in Hamburg. From there, PHD plans to serve major clients Volkswagen, among others. PHD has served the €600m-strong media projectfrom Volkswagen since the start of 2017, which also involved taking on 100 new employees. From the new office, also a consequence of the Volkswagen deal, 20 employees will continue the work and the plan is to employ more people over the next few years.

“Supporting the strong growth of the German market with a new facility is an important step for PHD Germany,” says PHD CEO Holger Thalheimer. “We can now offer our services in media and advertising location Hamburg, in the neighbourhood of our colleagues of the Omnicom Media Group Germany.”


Sensyolabs, the French releaser behind the Symfony Framework, now has its own office in Hamburg. The background to the expansion is the ever-quickening level of demand from companies for external support in development of Symfony-based web applications. Symfony is the world’s most-used PHP Framework, used by 600,000 developers around the world.

“The opening of the Hamburg office makes it possible for us to give a far more direct access to our experts,” said Freerich Bäthge, CEO of SensyoLabs Deutschland GmbH. “We have been supporting a variety of companies for many years now with our services. This step enables us to gain new customers and new personnel to help us on location in Hamburg.”

Baschnegger Ammann Partner

In autumn 2018, Austrian Full Service agency Baschnegger Ammann Partner opened an office in Hamburg, enlarging its digital unit.

“We are reacting to the current business development and requirements of our customers,” said Managing Partner Thomas Rohner. “Multi-channel solutions are in high demand. The expansion to Hamburg – hotspot of the digital scene – and the expansion of our team to more than 30 employees was a logical step.”


ZappiStore, a provider of automated market research technology, is expanding in the DACH and CEE region. ZappiStore was founded in 2013 in London as a provider of an online technology platform. Its target is supporting clients by use of an automated market research solution and making their processes more time and cost-efficient. Market research subsidiary of WPP, Kantar, invested in the company in 2014. ZappiStore has now grown to nearly 200 employees, with offices in London, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Cape Town and Singapore. Hamburg will be the new office in Germany, covering the DACH and Centrasl Europe regions.

Sandhills East

Sandhills East opened an office in Hamburg early in 2018. The Manchester-based company is behind a number of leading print and online resources used by purchasers and vendors of construction equipment and used trucks and trailers in Europe. It is one of many subsidiaries of Sandhills Publishing, a Nebraska-centred technology company behind brands such as Machinery Trader, Tractor House, Truck Paper and

Traditional Hamburg industries have also been strengthened by the relocation of additional companies:


As of April 1, 2018, a new cargoline has been sailing the world’s oceans. NYK, MOL and ‘K’-Line have taken over the operations of Ocean Network Express – known as One. The new carrier has been created from the fusion of the cargo divisions of the three Japanese maritime companies. Together, they have invested $3m in the new carrier, split along the following lines: 38% NYK and 31% from the two others. Put together, the fleet consists of 230 ships with a 1.44m container capacity. Their network includes 85 services serving more than 200 ports in 100 countries. Hamburg is the German headquarters, under the name One-D.

James Fisher Nuclear

James Fisher Nuclear GmbH is headquartered globally in Hamburg and develops and delivers a range of contamination and cleaning products which are robust, easy to maintain and easy to operate. JFN GmbH is supported by James Fisher Nuclear Ltd. (JFNL) and FTSE 250 parent company James Fisher and Sons plc in the UK. JFNL is vastly experienced in the supply of devices for the British market.

Northern Offshore Services (NOS)

The Swedish operator of crew transfer ships has registered a physical presence in Germany with the opening of an office in Hamburg.

“Germany is an important market for us and an important nodal point for the offshore wind energy industry,” said Fredrik Hallqvist, CCO of NOS. “The physical presence of an office and a German sales director makes us more present to our customers.”

The Hamburg office is the company’s fourth in Europe, after the British one in Lowestoft, the Danish in Copenhagen and the headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden.


As a part of its growth strategy, Mammoet Germany has expanded its branch network in the north and opened a further office in Hamburg.

Via the new location, the company can both expand and improve its offer for big projects in the north German market – in the sectors of harbours and boatyards, chemical plants, disassembly of nuclear facilities, on and offshore windarks and civil engineering. Hamburg is the home of the highest number of Mammoet’s customers. Mammoet is a Dutch company specialising in heavy lifting and logistics.

“To cope with the ever-increasing demands of our customers in marine industries and offshore wind, it has become more important to have a physical presence in north Germany,” explained Rene Biernacki, commercial director for the north. “Hamburg as a location offers us optimum market penetration and operation within the local petrochemical market, with a strong focus on the increasing challenges of the global logistics industry.”


Ampelmann, a leading supplier of offshore access solutions from Holland, has opened an office in Hamburg, it’s first in Germany, in reaction to the growing offshore wind industry.

The new location will be run by Tim Börner, who has been recruited as Business Development Manager Offshore Wind Germany.

“With the increasing strength of the offshore wind market, Hamburg is a critical location for this sector and it makes complete business sense to be present in this location,” said Börner.

Beijing Tianhai Industry Co., Ltd. (BTIC)

Beijing Tianhai Industry Co., Ltd. (BTIC), a Chinese producer of gas transporters and storage units, has opened an office in Hamburg.

The office, which will serve all BTIC customers in Europe, will help move forward BTIC’s growth in gas transporters and storage units, especially in after sales and customer support.

The new Hamburg office will strengthen the ties to European customers and improve the company’s ability to serve current and future markets.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Opens Standort in Hamburg

Swiss Re is expanding its insurance operations in Germany with corporate clients. The corporate solutions sector has correspondingly opened an office in the Hamburg district of Neustadt. From here, the company can serve large and medium sized companies across northern Germany with direct insurance, according to a company press release.


On April 25 and 26, startups from across the world presented themselves at the Asia-Pacific week in Berlin. Among them was Neewee, an analytics startup from Bangalore in India. The company presented its ‘Bodhee’ product, a tool for industrial analytics making predictions across a diverse range of production processes possible. Neewee triumphed at the pitch competition against eleven competitors and was awarded a free startup stand at the Cebit 2018 trade show in Hannover.

Neewee is now looking to find its feet in Germany, and selected Hamburg as its initial office location. “Our choice for Hamburg was based on several factors,” said Suyog Joshi, Co-Founder & CEO. “Proximity to our client Airbus was one, as well as the rich diversity of air freight, logistics and container shipping companies.”

At the “Landungsbrücken” © Mediaserver Hamburg/Jörg Modrow