With its thriving startup ecosystem, Hamburg is the perfect destination for entrepreneurs looking to expand their business.

Hamburg is the ideal destination for innovative entrepreneurs looking to grow and scale their businesses. With its strategic location, international trade connections and thriving startup ecosystem, Hamburg offers founders access to resources, funding, and mentoring, as well as a supportive community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Hamburg is frequently ranked as one of Europe’s most liveable cities and is also a leader in key industries such as aviation and renewable energies. At a very early stage, the city realised that sustainability is the key factor in securing quality of life and economic wealth at the location. With its own ambitious climate target to be CO2-neutral by the year 2045, Hamburg is also setting the pace on climate action. Moreover, Germany’s second largest city is emerging as a leader in the transition towards renewable energies and approaches for ramping up a functioning green hydrogen economy by 2035. As a renowned international urban ‘test lab’, Hamburg offers blueprints for realising e.g. intelligent mobility systems and sustainable housing concepts. All of this makes Hamburg the perfect location for GreenTech startups especially in the areas of mobility, logistics and green hydrogen.

Hamburg – Germany’s new startup capital

Photo: Mediaserver Hamburg / Christian Brandes

Tailored startup programmes

The Hanseatic city attracts international attention as one of the few European cities to boast their own startup programmes with a special focus on green technologies, such as the Future Hamburg Award and the Scaleup Landing Pad Hamburg.

Metropolitan regions around the world are facing the same challenges, such as increasing traffic, rising emissions and limited space – and all of these developments call for innovative approaches. With the Future Hamburg Award and the Scaleup Landing Pad Hamburg, the City of Hamburg aims to support smart solutions for the city of tomorrow. GreenTech startups and scaleups that contribute to sustainable change in urban life in the areas of energy, sustainable mobility, logistics or construction and all related fields are invited to apply online.

Hamburg – Germany’s new startup capital

Photo: Mediaserver Hamburg / Konstantin Beck

“With the Future Hamburg Award, we support future-oriented startups in realising their business models for innovation and technology in Hamburg and thus creating sustainable solutions for the future and competitiveness of metropolitan areas. The Landing Pad makes it easier than ever to gain a foothold in Germany and Europe, as the programme is unique in Germany in terms of its services and needs-based flexibility,” says Dr Rolf Strittmatter, CEO of Hamburg Invest.

In 2023, the winners of the Future Hamburg Award were the startups Colipi (Germany), Make My Day (Israel), and AraBat (Italy). These three impact startups convinced the Future Hamburg Award’s 2023 expert jury with their intelligent solutions for sustainable cities of the future. Young, up-and-coming enterprises from 28 countries had applied for the award. The Future Hamburg Award 2023 was aimed at honouring pioneering startups whose innovative business models and products have an impact on sustainability and quality of life. The focus here was on innovations that can help improve city life in the realms of greentech, mobility and logistics.

Plug and Play, the renowned international innovation platform, is the main partner of the Future Hamburg Award. With a network of more than 60,000 startups and 500 companies, Plug and Play is active in more than 20 industries and over 50 locations worldwide, making it one of the leading international players in the corporate innovation industry.

“We are proud to be able to support the Future Hamburg Award with our international network and thus contribute to shaping Hamburg’s international innovation ecosystem. The award offers the opportunity to share expertise, integrate ecosystems, promote startups and develop long-term strategies for urban living across industries and countries,” says Sallar Faridi, Senior Director at Plug and Play.

Hamburg – Germany’s new startup capital

Photo: Mediaserver Hamburg / This Is Julia Photography

Increasing Germany’s visibility as a startup location

To increase Germany’s visibility as a startup location especially at an international level, the four largest German cities – Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Munich – are taking their cooperation to the next level: on 5 October 2023, the management of the relevant four business development organisations have signed the Startup Champs Germany Cooperation Agreement at Expo Real, the leading real estate fair in Munich. With this, they have created a solid framework for future collaborations. Launched in 2020 under the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, Startup Champs started as a national pitch competition. Since then, the format has been able to establish itself as a prestigious live event. The project’s expansion demonstrates the previous success of these joint efforts and is aimed at promoting Germany’s startup economy, while at the same time strengthening its international presence.



In recent years, the global startup economy has developed into a major factor in economic performance and innovation. A major part of Germany’s startup community is based in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Munich – Germany’s largest cities with over 1 million inhabitants and more. Together, the four most populous cities in Germany also make up a significant share of the national startup ecosystem, with around 9,000 startups and an investment volume of almost €8 billion, according to Dealroom, a startup database. As each city features a unique ecosystem with specific strengths, the cooperation agreement offers a variety of opportunities for all stakeholders to build on previous collaborations.

Hamburg – Germany’s new startup capital

Photo: Mediaserver Hamburg / This Is Julia Photography

The agreement between the four cities includes a roadmap for future joint projects and initiatives to utilise the great potential of startups both nationally and internationally. The main goals behind the Startup Champs Germany cooperation are to initiate joint projects to market the four largest startup locations in Germany, to increase the visibility of the participating startup locations at national and international levels, to support the local startup ecosystems, e.g. through networking and information sharing, as well as to foster initiatives aimed at stimulating the startup scene, e.g. by promoting female entrepreneurship.

Dr Rolf Strittmatter, Managing Director of Hamburg Invest, Hamburg’s business development agency, is convinced that the cooperation agreement will open up excellent opportunities for founders in particular: “Germany’s startup ecosystem offers enormous potential, from innovative strength to sales markets. With the Startup Champs project, Hamburg has kicked off a joint success story with Berlin, Cologne and Munich, making the locations tangible and adding impact through the cooperation’s international design. Going forward, cross-city activities will provide even more startup teams with insights into the advantages of the relevant locations.”

Hamburg – Germany’s new startup capital

Photo: Mediaserver Hamburg / Christian Brandes

A multifaceted IT and media industry

Hamburg is a publishing location with a rich tradition, a creative advertising capital, a gaming and film stronghold and a centre for high-quality information and entertainment broadcasting. In short: it is one of the most important European media centres. Business, trade and media can no longer be successful without ‘digital’.

The digital economy has now penetrated all fields and industries. Whether telecommunications, IT, media or advertising (TIMES) – and with more than 110,000 employees from over 23,000 companies – Hamburg is one of the continent’s most important technology and creative locations. The IT branch alone with around 10,000 companies and more than 50,000 employees represents a key economic factor. In addition to Hamburg’s established media companies, a dynamic social media scene has also developed in the city. From App programmers to JavaScript designers – the industry is witnessing increasing job specialisation in the area of digital platforms.

Hamburg – Germany’s new startup capital

Photo: Mediaserver Hamburg / Julia Schwendner

Today’s media locations are facing stiff competition. This is why Hamburg created optimal conditions for bridging the gap between the media industry and digital economy with the initiative nextMedia.Hamburg. The goal of the initiative is to secure Hamburg’s leading position in the media industry and to improve conditions for local companies. The nextMedia.Hamburg initiative and the nextMedia StartHub are the first point of contact for companies, institutions and the general public in Hamburg when it comes to questions and issues related to the digital economy. It is funded by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the Hamburg Business Development Corporation, the association Hamburg@work, and other committed companies.

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