vor 5 Jahren

Berlin to go, english edition, 01/2016

  • Text
  • Business
  • Berlin
  • Digital
  • Startup
  • Startups
  • Innovative
  • Industrial
  • Innovation
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SERVICE “FREEDOM IS AT THE HEART OF THE BERLIN BRAND” Dr. Jürgen Allerkamp, CEO of Investitionsbank Berlin, in an interview on Berlin’s development as a business location – and what makes the city unique Berlin’s economy is on the rise. Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) projects a growth in GDP of 2% for 2016. In the past year, revenue from retail sales, industry and the hospitality sector increased by 4.5%, while exports grew by 4.2%. Berlin offers the right conditions for companies looking to relocate or expand their operations. Berlin to go spoke with Dr. Jürgen Allerkamp and asked for his opinion. What’s the role of Investitionsbank Berlin in fostering the capital as a business location? Dr. Jürgen Allerkamp (JA): First and foremost, we’re a bank for startups, which make up almost half of our customers. Among Germany’s top-ten, we’re actually the most active capital investor for startups in terms of number of investments. Thanks to the SME campaign by IBB and the Berlin Senate, we’re also a strong supporter of small and medium-sized companies. As two-thirds of our financing commitments are to cutting-edge companies in Germany, we also promote innovation. And last but not least, we stimulate housing construction by financing affordable housing in the city – an issue that has become particularly important of late. How would you describe your bank’s mission? JA: Our mission is to advise people seeking to implement their business ideas and to assist them with financing. We’ve been doing this longer than the word “startup” has even existed – from microcredits to venture capital, with both equity and debt financing. For all questions concerning the financing of a business, we’re Berlin’s number one contact partner. The consulting aspect of our work is very important to us, and it plays a particularly large role in our business plan competition. What’s special about this competition? JA: It’s the largest regional business plan competition in Germany. We’ve been organizing it with great success for 20 years. Profitable ideas are presented to us, and we then develop them further in collaboration with the founders, producing profitable companies. Following the competition, we assist these businesses with consulting and coaching tailored to their needs. And how does it work with the financing of companies that are already located here or would like to be headquartered in Berlin? All Photos: IBB 20 BERLIN TO GO

SERVICE JA: For these cases we have great programs that we’ve been offering for years, including our well-known GRW program. There are other programs such as ProFIT, which targets young, innovative technology firms, and Berlin Kredit, a financing program for medium-sized companies seeking specialized investments and operating capital. One special offering is our Innovation Assistant, whereby for a limited period, selected university graduates share their knowledge and practical expertise with small and micro-enterprises. Especially in terms of digitization, which is critical in any industry, this fresh research-based knowledge can provide a decisive market advantage. Small and medium-sized companies are the backbone of a location’s economic development. Are you supporting them in any particular way? JA: For 2016, Berlin’s Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research and the IBB have developed a four-pillar campaign for small and medium-sized businesses. In short: Our Berlin Innovativ program, which finances innovative SMEs, has raised its loan cap to €2 million. The Berlin Mittelstand 4.0 program focuses on the digitization of SMEs in industry and services as well in the IT sector, with a planned annual volume of around €10 million. We also have the SME Fund, which is vested each year with around €30 million. And in the future, our GRW program will also be available to companies with commission-based models, which are common in startups and in the digital economy. We will elaborate on these topics on Funding Day, 6 April 2016. Funding Day is a good opportunity to reach out to you. How do your customers normally get in contact with you? JA: Any way imaginable, be it through our website or by telephone. We either meet startups and entrepreneurs through our business plan competition, or they are referred to us. Companies looking to locate in Berlin find us through Berlin Partner. We value this cooperation very highly and would like to explore new ways to cooperate in the future. We’re frequently contacted by principal banks that involve us in financing processes. How would you rate Berlin’s appeal for new businesses over the past year? JA: It was a terrific year for development which, if I may be frank, we’ve had a part in. We’re thrilled how Berlin is developing, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure that Berlin continues to provide attractive startup conditions for businesses looking to locate here! What’s key to insuring such conditions? JA: The city must remain attractive in all aspects – cultural, scientific, economic – in order for businesses to attract promising and skilled professionals. This also means that Dr. Jürgen Allerkamp, CEO of Investitionsbank Berlin, has ambitious plans for 2016 as well. Berlin must continue to offer comparably low rents in the commercial as well as residential market. Digital infrastructure also plays a sizable role. If we do what is necessary to maintain Berlin’s status as the digital heart of the republic, the expected growth over the next 15 years could mean a quarter of a million new jobs for the city. The task for all those involved in location development is thus to sustain Berlin’s capacity as the most dynamic economic region in Germany. After all, success feeds success. How can this be achieved? JA: By continuing to do as we have in the recent past. There is very close cooperation between Berlin’s institutions for economic promotion – including Berlin Partner, Technologiestiftung Berlin and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce – and we’re all enthusiastically doing our part. One good example is the Startup Unit, in which all relevant parties have joined forces. How do you rate today’s Berlin as a location for business? JA: Two or three years ago, funding commitments for companies looking to locate to Berlin were often decisive. Today, financial support is no longer a primary incentive. This is telling: Being based in Berlin is of economic value in itself, especially for new companies. How would you personally answer the question “Why Berlin?” JA: Why Berlin? For me, the DNA of this city is freedom. Freedom that we, historically speaking, have drawn from others. Freedom in the sense of culture and way of life, as was the case so remarkably in the 1920s. Even Frederick the Great let “every man seek heaven in his own fashion.” Berlin is colorful, creative, innovative, forward-looking and utterly tolerant. Freedom is, if you will, the brand essence of this city. I’m almost a bit sad that I didn’t move here five years earlier! Many thanks for the conversation! Interview by Ines Hein BERLIN TO GO 21

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