Digital Geography

22. September 2015

Berlin is the city for the geo-industry…‎

Berlin is the place to be for the geo-industry…‎ Visiting the INTERGEO 2015 in Stuttgart I came to one conclusion: Berlin is the place to be. Forget ‎about Munich, Munster or Bonn. Pack your stuff and head east. Just let me support my opinion a ‎bit with some facts‎ ‎

Berlin? defining the region

‎When I talk about Berlin I talk about the metropolitan region of Berlin. This includes Potsdam which is connected with Berlin by local transport system (buses, city-train) and ‎is easy to reach. Once we include Potsdam in this “review” we also need to look at the growing ‎regions around Berlin. So I am more or less addressing Berlin and the 25km buffer…There was even an initiative to merge the countries of Berlin and Brandenburg which failed. But this still supports the argument of the interaction and integration of Berlin in its surrounding.

Berlin? business relevant facts

There are several facts why Berlin should be the place for your next office or the headquarter for your startup in the geo-industry. Let’s start with some broad business relevant facts:

rents

There was quite an increase in local rents but yet there are plenty of cheap offices that are also part of some quarter development programs like in the Wedding, Mitte or Hellersdorf/Marzahn (GERMAN). Comparing the prices per m² in the bigger cities you can see that Berlin is approx. 10% below other German cities. This certainly attracts startup companies to try it in Berlin.

Statistic: Rental prices of prime office properties in selected European cities as of 1st quarter of 2015 (€ per m²/year) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista Compared to other European cities Berlin still scores great with a net price of about 13€ per m² per month.

costs of employment

labour costs comparison (src)

I have to admit that Germany has quite high costs of employment due to the costs of the health system and the contributions to the social security systems in general. Yet the mean wage of employees is quite low in Berlin (which is nothing to like but still an argument from a business perspective) keeping in mind that it’s the biggest city in Germany. Compared to other cities in Furthermore you will find a lot of freelancers, and students for your projects.

human ressources

Berlin itself has approx. 160.000 students and adding the surrounding Brandenburg with its 50.000 students you can say there is some potential. Of course not everyone is studying something geo-related. Yet you can find plenty departments at the universities, technical universities and universities of applied sciences with a geo or IT-relevant focus. Furthermore the city itself also attracts international job seekers especially from the European surrounding (Spanish, Greeks and many more).

Here are the job postings on digital-geography.com for the last 2 years:

quality of living

One reason coming to Berlin might be the rumour of low living costs in Berlin and the plurality of option. I have to agree that the costs of living is probably lower than in the rest of Germany (Berlin scores second). The rents for flats are still low but increased big style (no, not because of Airbnb). There is a pressure on the market but still: You can find nice 2-room apartments for less than 500€ per month. Overall costs of living are 10% lower than in other bigger German cities. And I don’t need to mention the green character of the city, the famous club culture or the open minded but not so friendly people?

Institutions

Berlin is not only the capital but also the home of plenty research institutions, incubators and possible attractor for your next geo-startup. Let’s start with the federal institutions. You not only have the universities but also the Bundestag, the ministries and also the representations of the federal states like Thuringia, Hesse or Bavaria. Each of those institutions is a potential customer. Especially with the move of the Bundesnachrichtendienst to Berlin there will be even more tenders be announced. Geo-consultancy will be the next big thing in Berlin.

Furthermore you have some “headquarters” in Berlin which might be of interest: Vattenfall, Deutsche Bahn, Wall, Total, TÜV, Air Berlin and many others. Check out this webmap to identify your next lead:

And we need to keep in mind: the discussions about smart grids, distributed services, cloud technology, big (geo-)data just started and there are a lot of companies that might not fit your business idea at first hand. But geodata is gathered nearly everywhere, every time and companies just started to explore the benefit of analysing them… Additionally we have the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences , the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Alfred Wegener Institute and many other institutions in the region with a direct or indirect interest in GEO- and GIS-problems.

And if it’s not the companies and official institutions Berlin offers great unofficial “institutions” as well: Those initiatives are heavily backed up by the open data initiative which had and has a great impact on how we can develop and enrich applications as well as solutions in Berlin.

Geo-IT in Berlin

‎ Looking at the current geo-industry we can count many companies that are already located and ‎either make a good partner in your future projects or a nice competitor…‎ So let’s name them:‎ ‎
And last but not least:
  • Jens

    Interesting thoughts! I am struggeling between Hamburg and Berlin…but what happens if you do not include the 25km buffer? I guess the picture changes then completely?

    • No the above facts are still counting for the city of Berlin. But when we talk about Berlin and geo-aware culture/institutions it’s wrong to not take Potsdam into account. You can also say Potsdam is on of the centres for geo-sciences in Germany yet the big companies and federal institutions are located in Berlin as well as the mass of students. Furthermore the rents in Potsdam are higher compared to Berlin. The 25km buffer point was only related to : When we talk about Berlin we also need to take Potsdam into account [and Oranienburg, and Eberswalde and Großbeeren and also Neustrelitz (which is Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania already, but DLR having a campus there).

      • Jens

        You are right, Potsdam is definitely important. Eberswalde and Neustrelitz are for sure not anymore Berlin and surrounding. Never heard of Großbeeren. Anyway, thanks for that interesting post!