Berlin´s Industry

Senatorin Pop bei B. Braun

… is flourishing again

After the fall of the Wall and German reunification, Berlin’s economy underwent a profound structural change. Over the last years, though, the city’s industrial sector has regained its momentum and is driving forward economic growth, with Berlin’s industry recording a growth in real gross value added (GVA) of around 20% between 2005 and 2013. Berlin’s industry has thus proved itself to be a highly productive economic sector in spite of the cyclical swings of the last years in the wake of the international financial and economic crisis, and the crisis in the euro area.

Berlin is a leader in Germany in particular in the sectors of energy, life sciences, information and communication technologies, optics, mobility, microsystems engineering and clean technologies. Thanks to the broad diversity of Berlin’s industrial mix, the city’s industry is less sensitive overall to cyclical influences. In addition, it has a strong focus on exports.

In Berlin, approximately 154,000 young people are studying at the city’s 40 universities and colleges of higher education. Every year, 26,000 students graduate from these institutions and enter the labour market as well-qualified workers. Around 35% of these graduates come from the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Approximately half of the graduates from Universities of Sciences remain in companies in the region.

… is productive and efficient

In 2014, Berlin’s industry achieved a gross value added of 96 billion euros. This growth in efficiency is also reflected in an industrial per capita productivity which similarly increased by around one fifth between 2005 and 2014. In 2014, an industrial employee in Berlin generated approximately 80,300 euros, slightly above the average in Germany. In a national comparison, Berlin is now seventh in the rankings.

… is export-oriented and internationally competitive

Berlin’s industry is well positioned internationally. The last years have seen a significant increase in the presence of Berlin products on the international markets. While Berlin’s industry recorded an export share of around 15% in the mid-1990s, this figure is considerably higher today with over 50% of sales presently from outside Germany. Taken together, the pharmaceutical industry, mechanical engineering and the electrical industries even generate around two-thirds of their sales abroad.

… is an attractive employer

After Berlin’s industrial sector underwent a major structural change in the mid-1990s, the last years have seen the total figure of employees stabilising. In mid-2014, Berlin’s industry employed around 105,200 people in jobs subject to social insurance contributions. As a result, the industrial sector offers promising prospects for many specialists and skilled workers, university graduates and trainees.

Berlin has many excellently trained multi-lingual specialists and skilled workers. Businesses can find the qualified professionals and managers crucial for their success among the city’s pool of employees. The labour market draws on around six million people living in the catchment area of Berlin-Brandenburg.

  • Focus: The professional situation of graduates – in particular in Berlin as an employment location

    Through their graduates, Berlin’s universities have a significant impact on the city as a location for employment. At the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin (HTW) for example, approximately 60% of those graduating from diploma programmes, and 73% of those completing undergraduate or masters’ degrees (student cohorts 2007 – 2010) entered the labour market in Berlin.

    This was especially the case for STEM subjects. With Berlin-based companies particularly keen to acquire graduates in these areas, the number of these graduates remaining in the city is high especially, for instance, from electrical engineering (71%) telecommunications / communication technologies (100%), computer engineering (70%), and applied (82%) and business information systems (74% bachelor’s programme, 71% master’s programme).

    Source: Survey of Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin graduates by the HIS Institut für Hochschulforschung for the years 2007 – 2010

… is facing the challenges of environmental protection and climate change

Over the last years, Berlin has developed into a highly efficient and innovative centre for green technologies. Many of these companies are active on the key environmental technologies markets.

Berlin is an outstanding location for eco-friendly power plant engineering and turbo-engine production. The companies applying industrial technologies to power plant engineering are playing a pioneering role in flexible power plants and smart grids.
Numerous photovoltaic companies have either been founded in Berlin or have relocated here, particularly those producing photovoltaic modules and integrated photovoltaic systems.

There is major global demand for the automation systems produced by Berlin’s special engineering manufacturers for production processes in battery technology and photovoltaics.

  • Focus: Industrial park as trailblazer for climate neutrality – NEMo: The “Zero Emissions” Climate Protection Project in Motzener Straße

    With the NEMo project, Motzener Straße aims to become the first industrial park in Berlin to gradually cut its carbon emissions.

    Achieving this objective entails jointly developing, planning and organising measures which offer advantages for the businesses, the district and the site’s energy and carbon footprint. Such measures could be, for example, supplying the location with renewable energies, waste heat usage and storage, traffic reduction and improving e-mobility, waste recycling and exchange as well as improving the micro-climate by such methods as greening, rainwater drainage or unsealing parking areas.

    With this landmark project, the Motzener Straße industrial park is making an important contribution to the Berlin Senate’s policy initiative of turning Berlin into a climate-neutral city by 2050.

    The project is funded by the National Climate Initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.

… is innovative and research intensive

Berlin is one of the major scientific locations in Europe and a leader in many key technologies. The extent of the region’s innovative strength is evident in its research and educational facilities:
  • 4 universities and the Charité university hospital
  • 7 universities of applied sciences
  • 28 private universities and
  • 70 independent research institutions
  • Focus: Berlin boasts numerous Nobel laureates and other award winners in science.

    For example, in 2007, Prof. Gerhard Ertl, from 1986 to 2004 Director of the Physical Chemistry Department at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces. In particular, this prize came as recognition of his groundbreaking research in the field of surface chemistry.

    In 2011, Prof. Emad Flear Aziz, a physicist working at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HBZ) and Freie Universität Berlin, was awarded one of the coveted ERC Starting Grants by the European Research Council. The award provided for a total of 1.5 million euros to support Professor Aziz’s research project into “The Structure and Dynamics of Porphyrin-based Materials in Solutions vs. Interfaces”.

    Sources: Press release 10.10.2007,, Hermann Nachrichten der Helmholtz-Gesellschaft.

Berlin is ranked second in Germany in terms of the research and development share (R&D) of the gross domestic product, and leads the rankings for the share of R&D expenditure solely in the public sector. The strength of R&D in the city creates an excellent basis for cooperation projects.

R&D plays a major role for Berlin companies. In 2011, businesses in Berlin spent 1.4 billion euros on R&D, up by around 3% on 2009 (with the manufacturing sector alone accounting for 965 million euros). In the same period, there were new jobs for 580 scientists and researchers, an increase of approx. 3% over 2009. Overall, Berlin’s economy employs 11,340 people in the R&D sector (2011).

Berlin’s large-scale enterprises (over 250 employees) account for 75% of the economic sector’s R&D and employ 40% of the R&D personnel. The research landscape in Berlin is notable for a high percentage of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) actively involved in research. Over the last years, this number has also significantly increased, with SMEs now accounting for over 25% of industrial research expenditure compared to a national average of around 11%.

Berlin’s companies offer a new generation product range. On average, around 20% of sales are generated by new products, and 24% by improved products – a key indicator of the competitive edge and future viability of Berlin’s businesses. In Berlin’s most intensive R&D industrial sectors, the latter figure is even higher with improved products generating approx. 31% of sales – significantly above the national average (26%).

  • Focus: Successful cooperation between science, industry and the state
    Fraunhofer innovation clusters stand for cooperation between the fields of science, economics, politics and civil society to secure the long-term interaction and exchange of knowledge in a region.

    The Fraunhofer Innovation Cluster “Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) in Energy and Transport” aims to develop resource-saving and energy-efficient MRO processes and technologies and establish them sustainably in the capital region. The cluster is receiving funding of around 14 million euros over a period of three years, with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the federal states of Berlin and Brandenburg, and the participating companies each providing one third of that sum within the context of various projects.

    The Fraunhofer innovation cluster has proved extremely successful in improving competitiveness by developing MRO solutions and applying them in industry.


… is an industrial location with a long tradition

Berlin is an industrial location with a long tradition. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, such renowned business figures as August Borsig, Johann Georg Halske, Emil Rathenau, Ernst Christian Friedrich Schering and Werner von Siemens played a major role in developing Berlin into Germany’s largest industrial centre.
After the Second World War and the division of Berlin, the industrial sector lost some of its competitive edge – due in part to companies leaving the city as well as company headquarters and the R&D departments of large-scale companies relocating to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Today, after years of structural change in the wake of reunification and a further significant cutback in jobs in industry, Berlin’s industrial sector has a solid basis of modern, competitive businesses with a new generation of products.
Today, with its fresh innovative drive, Berlin’s industry is building on a successful tradition.  

Skilled crafts and trades in Berlin Skilled Crafts Action Programme 2015 – 2017 With 30,433 businesses, 185,000 employees and over 10,000 apprentices, Berlin’s skilled crafts and trades sector has developed into an important partner for the city’s economy and a driver of innovation for Berlin as a future location. The third edition of the joint Skilled Crafts Action Programme 2015-2017 is a work programme geared to practice and developed on the basis of existing economic and specialist policy initiatives. The Action Programme continues an ambitious cooperation project between the Berlin Senate and the Handwerkskammer Berlin (Berlin Chamber of Skilled Crafts), with the aim of implementing concrete measures, promoting and supporting innovative solutions for Berlin’s skilled crafts sector, and further strengthening the public image of the city’s skilled crafts and trades. Importance of the skilled crafts sector for Berlin
  • 30,433 businesses (-614 businesses over the end of the previous year, 2013); of these
  • 14,869 crafts and trades requiring official permits – Annex A of the Trade and Crafts Code (Handwerksordnung) – (-273)
  • 15,564 permit-free crafts and trades – Annex B1 and B2 of the Trade and Crafts Code (Handwerksordnung) and Annex AeT (small businesses) – (-341)
  • 9,706 apprentices (-679 less than in the previous year, 2013); at the end of the year, this figure comprised 8,462 apprentices in skilled crafts and trades and 772 trainees in commercial professions.
  • 765 apprentices from outside Germany started their craft apprenticeships here in 2014 (+ 26 over the previous year)
  • 3,705 young people started an apprenticeship in 2014 (approx. -5%)
    Current situation of Berlin’s skilled crafts sector (spring 2015)
  • The current business situation has again improved over the previous year. A positive outlook predominates across all areas of the skilled crafts and trades. Over 80% of businesses are at least satisfied with their results.
  • Berlin’s skilled crafts and trades foresee a stable development over the coming six months, a confidence equally evident in the numbers of anticipated orders.
  • The labour market has slowed somewhat, with the total of employees in this sector falling slightly.
Organisation of the skilled crafts sector
  • The Handwerkskammer Berlin (Berlin Chamber of Skilled Crafts) is a corporation under public law, and its organs are the general assembly, the managing board and various committees.
  • The other skilled crafts organisation include nearly fifty guilds and other professional associations representing business interests in this sector, promoting their particular interests and concerns and, in some cases, running training facilities.
  • The Handwerkskammer Berlin (Berlin Chamber of Skilled Crafts) has two major training facilities:
    - the Bildungs- und Technologiezentrum (Training and Technology Centre – BTZ) on Mehringdamm , as well as the
    - Bernau/Waldfrieden Training Centres.
    These facilities primarily focus on providing industry-wide training for apprentices, preparatory courses for the master craftsman examinations, and further training courses.