When you think of Europe’s brightest startup hubs, certain cities might spring to mind – London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, for instance.

But while these cities are attractive destinations for investors, there are plenty more that are keen to get in on the action. One of these ‘contender’ cities is Hamburg.

With a strong history of trade and media, Hamburg is slowly but surely emerging as a tech hub in its own right. More understated and friendlier than other German cities, Hamburg has plenty to offer entrepreneurs.

The current picture

According to a report by German government-owned bank KfW, Hamburg beat Berlin to claim the most entrepreneurs per capita in 2016.

Hamburg has long nurtured fledgling companies and more recently, the city has been directing resources into developing a network of mentors and investors. As a result, its startup scene has been driven up a notch.

Nearly ten thousand new companies are founded in and around the city each year, attracted by everything from government programs to community initiatives.

Key trends in Hamburg’s startup scene

Leading the way in Hamburg’s startup space are commerce, service-based and tech startups. Being a port city, it’s no surprise that entrepreneurship in commerce is top of the list.

Tech is also big news, with the city hosting some of the tech world’s biggest names such as Google, Facebook, Freenet and Xing. In addition, established businesses (for example, Airbus, Philips and Siemens) are all based in the city and constantly looking for the next big thing in tech innovation.

The gaming startups industry is also one to watch. Hamburg has become Europe’s leader in free-to-play and browser game development. Data from nextMedia Hamburg reveals the city’s games industry employs around 5,000 people. It’s a similar picture in fintech. Even though only 42 of Hamburg’s 575 startups operate in the fintech sector, those companies employ more than 500 people.

A city of opportunity 

From an investor’s perspective, Hamburg offers countless opportunities. The majority of startups are firmly in their growth phase, meaning there is a real potential for seed investors.

Big business plays a crucial role for startups. Hamburg offers programs for startups that provide expertise, mentorship and funding from big-name companies such as Airbus. These so-called accelerator programmes create a collaborative approach to the city’s startup ecosystem, ensuring entrepreneurs have the support they need to succeed.

Because Hamburg’s business community is so heavily invested in the local startup scene, the city’s startups find themselves well-placed to expand and scale their business and take on new markets across Europe.

Startup founders looking for a place to call home want to know they can grow their business, but they also want to know they’ll be happy living there. In Hamburg, quality of life is often cited by newcomers as one of the key reasons they chose to settle in the city. Once they’ve arrived, they soon realise how much they can also benefit from the city’s small, tight-knit community.


If you’d like to find out more about living and working in Hamburg, get in touch with the EU team at Talent International. We can advise you about tech opportunities available in the city today.