Top Investments 2019 in Hamburg

December 2019

“Speicherstadt” Hamburg © Mediaserver Hamburg/ Escape Filmproduktion

Momentum Building for the Smart City of Hamburg

Third place in a global ranking by The Financial Times

Hamburg is ideally positioned to become a smart city, according to the “Smart Locations of the Future” ranking by fDi Magazine from The Financial Times Group, a specialized publication focusing on foreign direct investment. Hamburg took third place in the FDI strategy category in April 2019, behind top-ranked Dublin and Vilnius. Just one year earlier, Hamburg was in ninth place.

Hamburg had already earned fourth place in the “European Cities Regions of the Future 2018/2019” ranking in the Major European Cities category. The metropolis on the Elbe River also scored among the top ten in the “Digital Economy of the Future” ranking last October, and in February 2018, it came in third in the global “Return on Investment” category.

Against this backdrop, it’s no surprise that renowned international technology companies and start-ups settled in Hamburg in 2019, as well.


With the launch of its new Hamburg-based data center HH1, US company Equinix now supports Hamburg-based companies with the digital transformation process, and is currently continuing to expand its presence in the German market.

Hamburg is already one of Germany’s most digital cities and an important location for European industry and trade. The port of Hamburg, leading logistics companies, and a flourishing digital economy make Hamburg an ideal location for Equinix to connect companies, partners, network service providers, and cloud providers with one another and to drive digitalization on the ground in Europe.

Plug and Play

The world’s largest start-up accelerator, Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play, has now opened a European branch in Hamburg and is initially focusing on supply chain and logistics.

Plug and Play networks traditional companies with start-ups, offering special programs for that purpose. Bringing this highly successful concept to a location such as Hamburg – traditionally known for strong logistics – is ideal; it’s a perfect fit for Hamburg’s approach to the future. “Even now, we’re looking for ways to work together in the areas of smart city and mobility,” says Sallar Faridi in Hamburg. He and Nieky Ipektchi will head up the office. The areas they are investigating are particularly important given that the ITS World Congress for intelligent traffic systems will be held in Hamburg in 2021.

Startup working with AI © Mediaserver Hamburg/ Geheimtipp Hamburg


At the Hamburg office of Swedish media start-up Ceretai, co-founder Matilda Kong and her team use artificial intelligence to analyze diversity in media, and pluralism and equality in media content.

The team uses an AI-based tool to create comprehensive diversity analyses of content such as videos; they have worked with organizations like the BBC, Tagesschau, and Norddeutscher Rundfunk. Their analyses provide insight on issues such as the visibility of women in media.


High-tech hardware and software – this combination is what makes India-based start-up Foviatech special. The company makes use of artificial intelligence and graphene, a material that has only recently become available.
Graphene is a carbon allotrope with practically miraculous properties. It conducts electricity and heat very well and is still extremely hard and flexible. Additionally, it is nearly transparent, as the two-dimensional material consists of just a single layer of carbon atoms connected in a honeycomb structure. Producing the material has only been possible for a few years, so an enormous range of potential applications is yet to be explored.

There are already a number of initial use cases in the aviation industry, but this young company is looking for SMEs as partners.


Since its founding in Malaysia in 2000, ViTrox has been developing and producing innovative, cutting-edge, and cost-effective automated vision inspection devices and electronic devices with an integrated system-on-chip for the semiconductor and electronics packaging industry. ViTrox’s core products include the Machine Vision Solution (MVS), Automated Board Inspection (ABI), and Electronic Communication Systems (ECS).

ViTrox’s customers include outsourced assembly and test companies for semiconductors, printed circuit board manufacturers, electronics assembly companies, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), original design manufacturers (ODMs), electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers, and contract manufacturers from around the world.

ViTrox is currently a global leader in automated vision inspection devices with an extensive customer base in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, the USA, and other countries. The Hamburg branch is the company’s first in Germany.

Container terminal in Hamburg © Mediaserver Hamburg/Christian Spahrbier

Work began on the fairway adjustment of the Elbe River in 2019, attracting the attention of increasing numbers of companies in the marine and logistics industry to Hamburg. Examples include:

AVL Marine

Austrian company AVL opened its first German marine office in Hamburg. AVL Marine focuses on optimizing ship operations, integrating new technologies, digitalization, increasing efficiency, and developing solutions for cleaner air.

AVL Marine in Hamburg targets customer groups such as shipyards, industrial partners, classification societies, ship owners, ship operators, and charterers. These customers are increasingly looking for clean energy solutions, which is why AVL Marine’s scope of activities covers new fuels, exhaust gas emissions reduction, hybridization and electrification, digital solutions for meeting strict requirements, engineering services, system simulation, and optimization of operations.

AVL is the world’s largest independent company for the development, simulation, and testing of powertrain and energy production systems (combustion engines, transmissions, e-motors, hybrid drives, batteries, fuel cells, and software) for passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, and large engines.

Bunker One

Danish shipping company Bunker One opened its Hamburg office in 2019 in order to gain a foothold in the German market. The new Bunker One (Germany) GmbH will focus on supplying ship propulsion products and related services for ferries, container ships, and other commercial ships in ports in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea regions headquartered in Rostock, Kiel, and Hamburg.

Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB)

CMB was founded in 1895 as a shipping company that connected Belgium and the Congo. Back then, the company was known as Compagnie Belge Maritime du Congo (CBMC). Over time, however, the company continuously expanded its operations and was eventually renamed Compagnie Maritime Belge, or CMB. It opened a German office in Hamburg in 2019.

With this step, CMB plans to expand its international network in northern Europe. CMB Germany will represent Bocimar, Delphis, Bochem, and CMB Technologies in Germany and northern Europe.

G2 Ocean

Norwegian company G2 Ocean opened a new office in Hamburg, in order to strengthen its market position and meet the growing demand for project cargo services. It will be responsible for providing diversified project cargo services for new and existing customers from various branches of industry, such as oil, gas, and wind power.

“Germany is the manufacturing and engineering capital of Europe, and by establishing a base here, we are able to further enhance our business and service offerings in the region,” says Leif Arne Strømmen, vice president of innovation and project cargo at G2 Ocean.


New Zealand-based logistics company Mainfreight has opened a new ocean freight branch in Hamburg.

The Hamburg branch and its team will specialize in all ocean freight-related services, from FCL and LCL to break bulk and ro-ro, along with handling all customs clearance services and requirements.

In conjunction with the company’s strong European forwarding and logistics network, the new branch will allow Mainfreight to deliver an end-to-end supply chain solution throughout Europe.

Conventional industrial companies and their service providers are also expanding to Hamburg or launching from the ground up.

© Mediaserver Hamburg/Christian O. Bruch


US company GoodMills is making a significant investment in Hamburg, expanding the capacity of its Aurora mill to 265,000 tons per year. Soon, its Hamburg location will produce dust-free flour packages.

GoodMills, which manages six other flour mills from its base in Hamburg, has big plans for its first fiscal year (2019/2020). It will expand its Hamburg site and invest 15 million euros. The Hamburg mill can currently process 185,000 tons of flour annually; after the expansion, that figure will increase to 265,000 tons. One third of the flour produced in Hamburg is sold to food retailers, and two thirds go to bulk buyers such as bakeries.

The milling industry in Germany is currently undergoing an intensive consolidation process. There were approximately 19,000 mills in 1950, but since then, their numbers have steadily decreased – currently, there are only about 550 active mills in Germany, and just 200 of those process more than 1,000 tons per year. GoodMills is Europe’s largest milling group and the fourth-largest in the world.

Olympus Europe

The centrally located Olympus Campus will be one of the largest and most modern office complexes in Hamburg.

Olympus is an innovative company in Hamburg’s health economy and a valuable partner for research and development. As an active member of the Life Science Nord cluster, the company is an important strategic partner for the city, as well. The future Olympus Campus in Hamburg offers modern, attractive office space for employees and will have a revitalizing effect on the district of Hammerbrook. The technology company has been active in Hamburg since 1963, and by signing this long-term lease, Olympus is reaffirming its dedication to the city.

Olympus manages its business with the EMEA region from its base in Hamburg.

VTU Engineering

Industrial engineering specialist VTU Engineering of Austria is continuing its expansion with a new branch in Hamburg. The goal is to strengthen its partnership with customers in northern Germany.

“By opening this new location, we will be able to work more closely and effectively with our customers in northern Germany,” explains VTU CEO Wolfram Gstrein. “Additionally, it means further strengthening our position in Germany, which will allow us to continue to grow in the future and expand our position as a partner for the process industry.” The industrial engineering company’s customers in Hamburg include Nordmark Arzneimittel, Ohly, and Aurubis.

Furthermore, Hamburg has always been one of the top locations in Germany for international service providers.


The shortage of skilled workers in the IT industry intensified again recently: According to industry association Bitkom, there are currently 82,000 open positions for IT specialists in Germany. That number rose by about 50 percent within a single year. Not only does this mean that IT specialists and programmers can demand increasingly high salaries; it is also driving business for recruiting agencies.

Consequently, Glassdoor – an American website that allows employees to review employers – decided to open its first German branch in Hamburg. It will initially be staffed by a five-person team that will support existing corporate customers and expand the company’s recruiting solutions business. San Francisco-based Glassdoor launched in 2008, and according to the company’s own data, it is the second-largest job portal in the USA.


Iventa’s strategy of focusing on customers has paid off: The company is growing, and it is currently one of the top HR consulting companies in Austria. Alongside its own offices in all of Austria’s major economic regions – Graz, Innsbruck, Linz, Salzburg, and Vienna – the company opened a location in Bucharest, Romania in May 2018, and during the last few months of that year, Iventa began working on a further location in Germany. Now, Iventa Germany is open for business in Hamburg, and the company’s local customers can enjoy even more personal service.


US publisher advertising technology platform Sovrn is further expanding its European business by establishing a branch in Hamburg.

This expansion comes after Sovrn recently took in more than 25 million US dollars in series E capital during its last round of investment and acquired e-commerce company Viglink, now known as Sovrn Commerce.

Sovrn provides publishers with an advertising platform where they can offer inventory via header bidding; this platform also delivers analysis functions and the option to monetize publisher data. In Germany, the company has already inked partnerships with publishers such as