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Berlin to go, english edition, 02/2019

  • Text
  • Capital
  • International
  • Innovative
  • Berliners
  • Roughly
  • Global
  • Mobility
  • Drivery
  • Germany
  • Startup
  • Berlin

TITLE 12 After the

TITLE 12 After the initial economic slumber that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it took only a couple of years for the so-called “Metropolis on the Spree” to emerge as a top-notch business location. One reason for this success is Berlin’s tangible international flair – a characteristic that no other German city can top to this day. Berlin has 17 city partnerships, including ones with Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo, and these close ties have helped transform the city into the globally networked hub it is today – only 30 years after the Iron Curtain came down. Many of the people who traveled to Berlin out of a fascination for the formerly divided city ended up staying here. And today, the city continues to offer the best of many different worlds: a high and comparatively affordable quality of life, a vibrant and extremely open-minded society, a rich cultural life and, last but not least, a flourishing business landscape. This economic standing continues to attract numerous professionals from all over Germany, but also from across the globe. In 2018, roughly 3.7 million people were living in the German capital, and the number of inhabitants with a foreign passport is on the rise – around 725,000 people from over 190 nations are at home in the city on the Spree. These Berliners have primarily Turkish roots or come from Arabic-speaking countries and the former Soviet Union. Almost one in three Berliners has what they call a “migration background,” and almost two million inhabitants in the capital speak at least two languages. In the first six months of 2018, 63 companies from Europe, China and South America moved their offices to Berlin and brought 2,200 jobs with them. They were quickly followed by talented professionals from all over the world eager to live and work in the capital. This trend is especially noticeable in the Berlin startup scene. Almost 50% of the people employed at startups “The international spirit of this city is unique.” Marie Amigues, CEO and founder of Altagram come from abroad. A survey conducted by the German Startup Monitor in 2017 shows that this is no coincidence: almost 80% of Berlin startups fully agreed when asked whether the startup landscape profits from migration. This puts them far ahead of the national response, which averaged around 64%. Much of the venture capital flowing into the city also comes from international markets; a recent Technologiestiftung Berlin report showed that as much as 35% of the risk capital in Berlin was invested by foreign investors. The key reason for this trend is that international VC donors are often most interested in trade, delivery services and innovative distribution platforms, all of which are areas in which Berlin offers an ideal basis in terms of infrastructure, technology, personnel and culture. “The international spirit of this city is unique,” argues Marie Amigues, CEO and founder of Altagram. The startup she launched in 2013 has now become a globally active specialist in video game localization. The almost 60-person Altagram team is made up of people from all over the world, which means that the lingua franca at the office is usually English. The company offers language adaption and preparation services for game content in over 45 languages, so the theme of multiculturalism is an everyday lived experience here. With more than 600 freelancers and 44 sound studios worldwide, Altagram is able to carry out full-service contracts for the global video game sector. In addition to her Berlin-based team, Amigues also has employees in Seoul and Montreal. Originally from France, she came to Berlin in 2006 after stops in Paris, Ottawa and New York. “Thirteen years ago, just by chance, I met someone at a party in Paris who wanted to found a company in Berlin. I was excited by the idea right away,” says Amigues, recalling the beginnings of her first Berlin company. “I launched Altagram in Berlin in 2013, primarily because the local market here is Fotos: © Berlin Partner

so attractive for the games industry thanks to its international flavor. Everyone wants to come here!” For Amigues herself, Berlin is a great place to live, but it’s also a great place to do business, especially because these days even administrative tasks can be carried out in English too. “People in Berlin recognize and accept the fact that people speak their own languages. This is not necessarily the attitude in other parts of Germany,” gushes Amigues. From her perspective, there’s no need for Berlin to shy away from comparison to Paris or New York. “I value the spirit of this city very much. It’s a place where freedom is lived out every day. The high quality of life here is a huge plus. And there’s one more insight: the uniquely Berlin definition of success means doing whatever you have a passion for.” Stefan Moschko, head of Human Resources Germany at Siemens AG, describes the business location of Berlin as a big world in a small world. Siemens is now in the process of expanding its location in an impressive manner. “Our Siemensstadt project represents the neighborhood of the future,” says Moschko. “We are integrating production, research, learning, working and residential living into one district, and thereby showing what work will look like in the future. Our Berlin location already has a fully international outlook today, with 90% of the products we manufacture here going abroad. Plus, roughly 11,500 employees from a wealth of different nationalities are at home here.” Indeed, diversity is not a mere marketing slogan in Siemensstadt; it’s an everyday lived reality. The company’s history has proven that innovative strength derives from business agility and flexibility. So it’s not surprising that the amount Siemens spent on R&D in 2018 was €5.6 billion, slightly more than the €5.2 billion in the previous year. The corporation is committed to developing innovative and sustainable solutions for its clients – in additive manufacturing, autonomous robotics, “Berlin is a very exciting business location for foreign talents.” Stefan Moschko, Head of Human Resources Germany for Siemens AG networked mobility, artificial intelligence and many more. Talented professionals are decisive in achieving this, stresses Moschko: “For us, internationalization always means diversity, too. Studies prove what we’ve discovered in our operations worldwide, namely that teams with a diverse make-up are simply more success-oriented than non-diverse teams.” This mix creates the framework for innovation and employee performance strength. “In Berlin, we have a business location that is absolutely exciting for many young talented professionals from abroad. We see a clear advantage here.” One local highlight is the international Tech Apprenticeship@ Siemens, which allows Siemens to offer young people from all over the world apprenticeships to become an electronics technicians or mechatronics engineers in Berlin. Right now, 100 apprentices from 27 countries, including Iraq, Egypt, Algeria and Mozambique, are being trained for a period of three-and-a-half years. Moschko is delighted about the personal achievements of his up-and-coming apprentices: “It’s a great program, especially for individuals coming from countries with high levels of youth unemployment. It equips them with the skills and abilities they’ll need to carry out their jobs, while also supporting them in their personal careers.” Roughly 3,000 young people worldwide are currently completing an apprenticeship at Siemens. “We’re seeing an increasing number of international contracts being tied to the requirement of creating apprenticeships in the country concerned,” explains Moschko. “We’re doing our utmost to make this happen, and we’re very proud of our efforts!” In other words, the openness and agility that is a part of everyday life at Siemens in Berlin is also setting precedents abroad. Instead of asking “How international is Berlin?” perhaps we should be asking “How much of Berlin has made its way out into the rest of the world?” 13

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