With a historic reputation for being the industrial heart of Bavaria, the German city of Nuremberg has emerged from a period of transformation to become a location for hi-tech and innovative services. It has a population of 500,000 and is one of the country’s 10 largest economies. The city also serves as the business and cultural base for the 3.5 million people living in the greater metropolitan region.

As with other major German cities, Nuremberg enjoys impressive transport links with the rest of Europe. It sits at the intersections of the Paris-Prague, London-Brussels-Vienna-Budapest and Warsaw-Berlin-Rome highways. It is a hub for major European trains and its airport offers more than 50 non-stop flights to 20 countries.

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Nuremberg also sits on the Main-Danube Canal, connecting the North Sea and the Black Sea, and is the largest freight traffic centre in southern Germany. Marco von Dobschütz-Dietl, manager of international economic affairs for the city of Nuremberg, says: “We’re located almost at the heart of Europe, so this is a good location from which overseas businesses can access new markets in eastern and southern Europe.”

Good people

According to Mr von Dobschütz-Dietl, the area has plenty of qualified and skilled workers. “Foreign investors often know about Munich and Frankfurt, but they sometimes haven’t heard of Nuremberg, so that can be a challenge. However, it can be hard to find good people in Munich because of the higher costs of living and wages. In Nuremberg wages can be 10% to 20% lower.”

Nuremberg's major sectors are automotive, medical, new materials, logistics and transport, ICT, energy, cultural and creative. An estimated 25,000 companies have been established in the city. These include a mix of start-ups and global names such as Siemens, Bosch, GfK, Novartis, Puma, Continental, Alcatel-Lucent, Adidas, Staedtler and ING DiBa.

Innovation and development are supported by the 30 universities within a 100-kilometre radius of the city. “You find a lot of hi-tech companies and universities here,” says Mr von Dobschütz-Dietl. “There’s a lot of expertise and knowledge available and lots of opportunities for hi-tech firms to work together.”

Hi-tech hub

According to the city’s authorities, about 1300 companies in the region develop solutions for embedded software and hardware systems in the global hi-tech sector. Nuremberg is also a major R&D, and technology location for the well-established and large energy sector.

Mr von Dobschütz-Dietl says the city scores well for some of the softer factors associated with an investment. “It’s one of the safest cities in Germany. We have an old town and a lot of culture here. There’s a lot of green belt, water and lakes, so the region around the city is also attractive. In 30 minutes, you can be in Franconian Switzerland [a popular tourist retreat] or you can be in Munich within an hour by train. It is less crowded and the cost of living is lower than bigger cities such as Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin, plus we have lots of good schools and day-care centres,” he says.

Nuremberg’s ambitions also include a long-term plan for the transformation of an area in the south, currently used by a railway company, into a new quarter for shopping, working and living.