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Mayor of Bonn Ashok Sridharan tells Sebastian Shehadi about the city’s thriving IT sector, its internationalism and its foreign investment needs. 

We are here at Mipim Cannes, one of the largest international real estate expos. What is Bonn looking for?

We are focusing on the office sector [for IT] because Bonn has the fourth largest IT sector in Germany with over 10,000 employees specialising in IT security and cyber security. Germany is a hub for this – especially Bonn, which is growing – therefore we need more offices. We have 2.6% vacancy rate within prime office space, so demand is very high. Many investors just start to build an office building without renting a single square metre. When it’s finished it’s all rented out.

What are Bonn’s other unique selling points (USPs) for foreign investors?  

The other USP is ‘international Bonn’. We are the German [location] of the United Nations (UN). We have 20 UN organisations headquartered in Bonn, 150 non-governmental organisations dealing with the UN, and quite a lot of international companies. The headquarters of Deutsche Telekom and of Deutsche Post DHL Group are in Bonn.

There are people from 180 nations living in Bonn and we have international infrastructure in the form of international kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools and six universities. Bonn used to be the capital of West Germany, so the population is extremely tolerant. This attracts expats and international families to stay in Bonn. Though the city is smaller than most by international standards, expats are able to cycle to work, they’ve got beautiful landscapes, greenery and can be involved in international networks and therefore feel at home.

Is Bonn better located strategically than other German cities?

Yes, because we are really in the centre of Europe. It takes two hours to get to Brussels, for example [by car?]. We have three international airports within 70 minutes’ reach – Cologne-Bonn airport is a major low-cost hub in Europe, taking people to all the big cities in Europe. We have the high-speed train, the ICE.

What is making Bonn less attractive?

We need more housing. We are looking for investors not only for office building, but also for housing because there is also very big demand for housing, but an under-supply. The other big challenge is public transport – we would like more than there currently is.

Are there any big foreign investment projects on the horizon?

Our news since the start of 2018 is that there’s going to be a very big investment near our government building, Bundeshaus. It will be an office building skyscraper. Additionally, Postbank has just announced that it will be moving and expanding its global headquarters in Bonn, to a new building with more than 3000 staff.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
fDi Magazine

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